West Ham defender illustrates the improvement under Moyes
PUBLISHED: 11:00 15 January 2018
Angelo Ogbonna is loving it in the West Ham defence
When you look at the remarkable improvements that the West Ham defence have made since the arrival of new boss David Moyes, one man epitomises that more than anyone.
Angelo Ogbonna has been there throughout that period. Winston Reid and James Collins have both had injuries, but not the big Italian centre back.
He played and scored in the narrow defeat at Manchester City, in the clean sheets against Chelsea and Arsenal and as the games have come and gone, he seems to have improved in every one of them.
“I feel more protected at the back,” said the 29-year-old. “The team is playing really well, but not just because we are playing five at the back.
“We have changed a lot of things and our mentality is better than before.”
He is right. Ogbonna always talks to you with a smile on his face, but underneath that there is a steel in his persona which is showing itself on the pitch.
“You have to keep concentrating because this is the Premier League and you can never joke with the Premier League.”
Ogbonna showed his improvement in the game against West Brom when his superb last-ditch tackle on Oliver Burke saved a probable goal.
His no-nonsense defending and clearances have also been important and he seems a different player to the one that made silly mistakes when he first arrived.
“I wish I can keep this form until the end of the season,” he said. “For me, it is not about my form, it is the team that are helping me to play well.
“If the team plays badly then maybe I can still play well, but it is difficult to keep that up.”
Ogbonna played his part in Saturday’s thumping win at Huddersfield. As well as defending well, he also delivered the pass at the start of the second half that led to Marko Arnautovic restoring the West Ham lead.
“It was a brilliant win,” he said with a beaming smile. “We spoke all week about this game and we can come and get the win.
“We got the points and that is the most important thing for us to step up the table, that is what it is all about.”
Victory took the Hammers up to 11th place, but Ogbonna is not satisfied with that.
“It is scary to look at the table because we are 11th now, but it is so close which means we have to keep concentrating and keep focused on what we have to do.”
While Ogbonna was holding his own at one end, he was delighted to see Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini doing the business at the other end.
“I think they deserved what they got,” said the Italy international. “It is important to have players like that because they can keep the ball and let the rest of us breathe.
“Pedro Obiang as well can keep the ball and give us a break, it is a really good time for us at the moment.”
It is a really good time for the Hammers fans when they see Ogbonna ruling the roost in defence and manager Moyes has certainly had a lot to do with it.