Sky Sports talks to Matt Jarvis about his England hopes and the arrival of Stewart Downing.Occasionally there are statistics that just resonate. Some are flattering, such as the one that saw the passing of Swansea midfielder Leon Britton favourably compared to Barcelona's Xavi. Others are curiosities such as the fact that it took Gareth Bale until his 25th Premier League game for Tottenham before he was on the winning side... And that after more than 40 hours of action, Matt Jarvis was still waiting for his first West Ham assist. The likeable Hammers winger put in more crosses than any other Premier League player in 2012/13 and set up his fair share of opportunities. In fact, the 27-year-old created more than any other player not to have an assist to his name. But after a season spent plugging away on the left flank, Jarvis delivered on the opening day of the new season - providing the cut-back for Joe Cole to slam the ball home for the breakthrough goal against Cardiff on Saturday. When the dreaded stat is mentioned his relief is palpable. "Yeah, exactly! It's was nice to get it," he admits. "Especially after being top of the chances created without getting one. That wasn't great reading but it's nice to be up and running this season already."
BenefitJarvis didn't have a pre-season with West Ham last year, joining from Wolves for a then record £10million just before the window shut with the campaign already underway. This time he appears to be feeling the benefit of a summer with the squad, having produced a man of the match performance in a win over Hamburg last month and then impressing against the Bluebirds when the league season began. "It's helped that we've had quite a few games as we wanted to get as match-fit as we possibly could ahead of the new season," he explains. "It's always nice during pre-season to get a few assists and feel like you're back in the swing of things. To hit the ground running on Saturday and get an assist was a nice little confidence-booster. "I think the start that we had last year was the key. We got 14 points from our first eight games. It was the massive boost of confidence that we needed and I think we were around sixth to eighth in the table at that stage and that really motivates you. That really helped us last season." Some would suggest Jarvis needed a good start himself. Having dealt with the pressures that came with his transfer fee last season, the signing of fellow England international winger Stewart Downing on the eve of the opening game might well threaten his spot in the team. It was Jarvis who made way for Downing at the weekend. He bats away the issue of his place being under threat in predictable fashion. "It's another fantastic signing and it means competition for places, which is always healthy in a squad," says Jarvis. "It makes everyone play a bit better and that always helps the team. Hopefully we can play in the same team." There is certainly some reason for optimism in that regard given the fact that both men can play on either flank. Sam Allardyce may appear a manager at home with the knockabout banter on the Goals on Sunday sofa but his love of the science of the sport is also well-documented. So it seems unlikely he is unaware of the fact that Downing is one of only two men to fire in more than 200 crosses since the 2010/11 season. Jarvis is that other man, having achieved the feat in each of the last three campaigns.
|200+ PL crosses from open play - last three seasons|