Numerous times over the past decade, when West Ham United have needed him most, Mark Noble has stepped up.
That was the case again on Saturday as the skipper produced one of his best performances of the season to inspire the Hammers to a 2-0 victory at Leicester City.
In a match West Ham won to ultimately secure their Premier League safety, Noble not only scored a goal with his only shot on target, but was instrumental all over the pitch.
Let’s start with the captain’s goal, which was a thing of real beauty and very probably the best of the 51 he has scored in a Claret and Blue shirt.
West Ham were leading 1-0 midway through the second half at the King Power Stadium when Joao Mario delivered a curling free-kick from near the right touchline. Leicester substitute Aleksandar Dragovic cleared with a looping header and Noble shaped his body to send a skimming right-foot volley into the bottom left-hand corner of Ben Hamer’s net.
Noble’s fourth of the season was also his first goal from outside the penalty area since another important away win, 3-1 at Southampton in February 2017.
Aside from his goal, the No16 covered more ground than any other West Ham player – and 670m more than any other player on either side – with 11.58km.
To put Noble’s work-rate in context, only three other players – Joao Mario, Cheikhou Kouyate and Leicester’s Adrien Silva – covered more than 10km.
The captain was also influential in possession, making the joint-highest number of passes, 43, with Joao Mario, with both players completing 34 of them for a 79.1 per cent pass-completion rate.
Unusually, on the defensive side, Noble did not make a single tackle – Manuel Lanzini made four – but he did regain possession a team-high seven times, make three interceptions, a clearance and block a Leicester shot.
Having also scored the opening goal in each West Ham’s previous two away victories at Stoke City and Huddersfield Town, the 30-year-old has proven yet again that he will stand up and be counted when the pressure is on.