Areola proving West Ham's main game-changing addition to the starting XI


West Ham United are having quite the season. The Hammers are seventh in the Premier League table and just five points behind leaders Manchester City. Their 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday ended a streak of two losses and was their fourth victory of the campaign. For a little context here, during the 2022/23 campaign, David Moyes’ side didn’t register their fourth win of the season until matchday 12.  


Their early season form is even more remarkable when you consider they parted with Declan Rice in the summer. The former skipper was the heartbeat of the team and though the club received over £100m for him, replacing him was going to be difficult.  


However, the Hammers did some good business this summer. James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez bolstered the midfield options while Mohammed Kudus was added to the West Ham attack and Konstantinos Mavropanos, the VfB Stuttgart centre-back, arrived to round off an impressive window.  


Ward-Prowse has been a revelation since the move, scoring twice and assisting three goals in six outings. Alvarez has settled in nicely too, adapting to the rigours of the Premier League fairly quickly. It isn’t just the new signings making an impression though. Jarrod Bowen is in fine form and already has five goals to his name. Lucas Paqueta is regularly putting on a show after his move to Manchester City failed in the latter stages of the summer window. Vladimir Coufal already has three assists this term too.  


One big difference when looking at the team this season to the one that struggled last term is between the sticks.  


Alphonse Areola has replaced Lukasz Fabianski as the east London side's number one. The 30-year-old Frenchman was signed on a permanent basis in the summer of 2022 having spent season on loan with the Hammers. Many thought the one-time Real Madrid loanee would replace the former Arsenal man as the starting goalkeeper but Areola was limited to cup appearances. He played just five teams in the Premier League last term but did play in Europe as West Ham claimed the Europa Conference League.  


He’s now the first-choice for the Hammers having replaced Fabianski at the start of the season.  


Areola has slready made more Premier League appearances this time around (7) than he managed last term. He’s one of only six West Ham players to have a WhoScored average rating of over 7.00 this term. With a WhoScored rating of 7.15, he's the best rated goalkeeper in the Premier League this season. The ex-PSG shotstopper has been in inspired form in a number of matches and he’s been pivotal to their climb up the table.  



The No. 23 made three saves in the win over Chelsea, one of which was a penalty save to thwart Enzo Fernandez. He made nine saves against Brighton as the Hammers claimed a 3-1 win away from home. Areola then made a remarkable 10 saves in the loss to Manchester City. Without him in goal that day, the champions would’ve racked up quite the scoreline.  


He also made four saves against both Bournemouth and Liverpool.  


Moyes’ starting goalkeeper ranks favourably for a number of metrics this season. He’s fourth when looking at save percentage with 72.7%. Only Nick Pope (76%), Guglielmo Vicario (79.4%) and Alisson Becker (88.2%) can boast a higher percentage.  


Areola is also averaging the second most saves on a per 90 basis with 4.6. Only Wes Foderingham (5.9) is averaging more. The biggest one, however, is the goals prevented stat. Most Expected Goal models have West Ham down as having given up opportunities to the opposition worth 14.1 goals. The Hammers have only conceded 10 goals though, meaning Areola has prevented 4.1 goals due to his exploits. It is a huge overperformance and one that might tail off as the season progresses, but the Frenchman could well be the difference between a mid-table finish and a European place.  


The new signings are getting the plaudits for their performances but the real game-changer for the Hammers this season has been Areola.

Areola proving West Ham's main game-changing addition to the starting XI