From the London Stadium - There's this age old myth that's been doing the rounds for years, particularly among young football hipsters.
Or that's what they think they are, at least.
And that myth is that West Ham captain Mark Noble is a bit of a laugh in the middle of the park. Immobile, slow, and essentially one of those players that fans only appreciate and support because he's a local lad, willing to give his all.
Well I'm here, admittedly as a West Ham fan who has just frozen to near death at the London Stadium, to set the record straight. Why? Because that myth is just that – a myth.
Granted, he does some funny stuff from time to time. Noble can, at times, saunter round the middle of the park and be bypassed in the blink of an eye. But that's Premier League football for you - playing against the best of the best is tough and creative players in this league tend to be pretty handy.
But outside of West Ham circles, not many rate Mark Noble's ability to do anything at all. As we all know though, it's often those that you don't notice doing all the hard graft. Getting the miles in the legs game after game, whilst setting an example to the other 10 players on the pitch.
With Noble, you know you're going to get that. He's been consistently deployed in the holding role for years now - holding things together, breaking up play and offering outlets for the team to pass the ball around. And he's done it well. There was even talk of an England call-up a couple of years ago, though that never materialised. Probably a good job, mind.
But over the last 18 months, he's done even more for this team and for manager Manuel Pellegrini. As captain, you are responsible for setting the tone and getting those on the pitch pulling in the same direction. Nobody can fault Noble for that - hell, he's even ranked #1 skipper in the league by 90min's Wilfred Laurence, and that's a ringing endorsement coming from a staunch Chelsea fan.
So what's new? Well, for a start he's nurtured Declan Rice and taught him the art of protecting the back four. The Irish-turned-Englishman already has the tools, by the look of it, to become a breakout star in this division, but there's no doubting that Noble has influenced his reading and understanding of the game.
Such has been his development, West Ham have transitioned from playing two deep lying midfielders and Rice has taken on the mantle himself. That's allowed Noble to venture further forward, giving the side a more entertaining outlook.
Against Crystal Palace, Noble wasn't at his best - but he was industrious enough. His main strength in possession has always been his positioning, bringing others into the game at will. It's a skill that often goes unnoticed in football, because everybody's attention is drawn to the player on the ball.
He's not fast, he's not particularly skilful but he's sure as hell clever. He presses when he needs to press, he distributes and recycles possession simply and knows that there's many others around him with the ability to win West Ham games - plenty of them now actually. He also scores penalties too, which is nice.
On this occasion, the result of today's game, inevitably, didn't hinge on the performance of Noble, but VAR once again delivering a late, decisive hammer blow.
This time it was West Ham who drew the short straw as a combination of Aaron Cresswell's sock fluff and Issa Diop's shoelace saw Jordan Ayew's late strike overturned - after the assistant referee had ruled it out for offside (Yes, they've been told not to do this anymore but anyway). As a result, Palace ran out 2-1 winners - but we'll ramble on about technology another time.
For now, it's disappointment - but today is just another chapter in the Mark Noble is better than people give him credit for book. Don't believe me? Ask his fellow professionals.
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Source : 90min