In the middle of east London, a football revolution is currently taking place.
West Ham, one of the sleeping giants of English football, have been awakened by the genius of David Moyes, and the Hammers are now thriving.
And their rise isn’t just a random improvement of form, but a consistent ascension to the upper echelons of the Premier League table.
Last season, David Moyes and his men were agonisingly close to qualifying for the Champions League. Their consolidation prize is a first ever appearance in the Europa League group stages – which considering the team finished 16th two years ago, is pretty damn good.
Central to the rise of the Hammers is the form of Pablo Fornals – particularly in recent weeks when he’s bagged himself two goals in his last two games.
He has been so good for the Hammers in fact, that the Spanish squad called him up this week for World Cup qualifiers against Sweden, Georgia, and Kosovo.
What makes Fornals so good however isn’t what you’d expect from a diminutive Spanish midfielder. He doesn’t play like the Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silvas of this world – he’s less technically gifted yes, but he makes up for that by being much more industrious and hard working.
From his position behind Michail Antonio in a 4-2-3-1 formation, his job is moving the traffic along and linking up the defensive duo of Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček with the pacy three pronged attack.
The stats for the midfielder perfectly show how he is the engine in West Ham’s blistering counter-attack team.
In three games this season, Fornals has supplied four accurate long balls and he has crossed the ball into the box six times, and he’s also created two ‘big chances’ for his teammates.
His role can best be examined through West Ham’s first goal against Crystal Palace. On the 39th minute mark, Antonio won the ball inside the area and held it up, knowing that the midfielder would be there in the position just behind the forward line.
Fornals dashed in and fired into the bottom corner, giving the Hammers the lead in front of a packed London Stadium.
There are very few players in the Premier League who operate solely in between the forward line and the defensive third of the pitch. Fornals is excelling in that position, alongside other greats like Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne.
Despite his form, Moyes believes that the work the Spaniard is doing is going unnoticed at West Ham:
“He was really good last year, went a little bit under the radar and got what he deserves,
“He’s a great boy to work with because he’s so generous and so humble in everything he does,” he said.
The next test for the midfielder is Europe, when West Ham step foot in unfamiliar Europa League territory. If they are to succeed in that competition, they’ll need their main man Fornals to continue his fine Premier League form.