West Ham United will be hoping for Fabian Balbuena’s return as soon as possible, because Issa Diop’s form has dropped as a result.
Diop has gained major plaudits this season for his some commanding performances at the back for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
The summer signing from Toulouse has had some great games after finding his feet against the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.
But in recent weeks, Diop has not played with the same kind of dominance.
He has been caught out of position more often and his inexperience has come across a bit more.
Perhaps a reason for his lapses has been the absence of Fabian Balbuena, who has been just as impressive as Diop but not gotten the same credit.
Balbuena the unsung hero
Diop has looked a bit more shaky in the absence of the Paraguayan enforcer.
Angelo Ogbonna is not the most reliable central defender and is often poorly positioned.
There is then a knock on effect; Diop has to cover the space left by the Italian, meaning his original area then becomes vulnerable.
Balbuena showed a much greater discipline at the back before his knee injury. His calming and authoritative presence really transcended to Diop, who looked a lot more solid alongside him.
Ogbonna has undoubtedly upset the balance a bit with his more rash nature.
Concerningly, Ogbonna has been involved in just two clean sheets this season – against lower league Macclesfield Town and Birmingham City in the Carabao and FA Cups respectively.
football.london report West ham are ‘hopeful’ over Balbuena’s return for the next game against Arsenal.