Joey O’Brien has been one of the most consistent performers for West Ham United so far this season, yet he’s a player that never really gets the attention he deserves.
He’s gone about his business, kept his head down and done his hard work which is one of the main reasons he’s started 22 league games and only come off of the bench on one occasion.
His defensive game seems to have improved dramatically from last season and from his time at Bolton Wanderers, which must also mean he’s in the running for West Ham’s most improved player this season.
What he adds to the West Ham defence is security because although his best position is at full back, he can play a central defensive role, which adds cover to the squad.
His athleticism is something that allows him to get forward and get involved in the attacking play, which is something that Sam Allardyce deserves praise for because he doesn’t seem to have fiddled around too much with his technique.
It’s that athleticism and fitness which also allows him to put in the hard yards, which means tracking back and getting into his defensive position after an attack so the shape of the West Ham defence isn’t put at risk.
He’s also showing good aggression this season which is something West Ham need and it helps to take the pressure off of aggressive midfielders such as Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble.
One of the things a neutral may suggest about O’Brien is the fact that he doesn’t appear to be an intimidating figure. Therefore, the fact he’s one of the best tacklers in the West Ham side this season, shows he cannot be underestimated at any point.
He’s also showing great maturity which is important in relation to the younger players in the side.
He’s very important in terms of calmness and composure when West Ham win the ball back in their defensive third and then build an attack, as opposed to hoofing the ball forward to release the pressure very quickly.
His energy and enthusiasm means he’s going to be a mainstay in the West Ham team for the rest of the season and next year could be his best year as a professional football player, if West Ham can hang onto him.
Hammers fans, what do you make of O’Brien this season?