Romelu Lukaku is usually West Ham’s nemesis but Fabian Balbuena helped keep him quiet yesterday.

West Ham beat Manchester United 3-1 and Lukaku was unable to score his 12th goal in 12 games against them.

The Belgium striker did hit the post with a header but other than that, his chances were limited.

Balbuena played a pivotal role in preventing Lukaku from running riot again.

Here is Balbuena’s performance in numbers and we analyse how important he has been for West Ham.

Balbuena’s stats

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United is tackled by Fabian Balbuena of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on September 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Balbuena had a very impressive game yet again, as we will see with his statistics (sourced from Who Scored).

The Paraguay international was a rock at the back, as he has been all season.

He made two interceptions and three tackles to really halt Man United’s forward surges.

 

Moreover, his tally of 10 clearances once again eclipsed everyone else on the park.

On the ball, he is getting better, completing 86.7 per cent of his 30 passes and having a ball-playing defender reassures the rest of the team.

Lukaku is renowned for his aerial presence, but Balbuena came out on top, winning three aerial duels against him.

Growing partnership with Diop

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United is tackled by Issa Diop (l) and Fabian Balbuena of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on September 29, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Considering he has not played outside of South America until this season, Balbuena has been a revelation.

The 27-year-old is the complete defender. He is strong in the air, committed in the tackle and reads the game well.

As each game passes, he is developing a strong bond with Issa Diop, who also arrived in the summer.

Although they are far from the finished product, Diop and Balbuena are certainly improving each game.

They are forming a very solid backbone to this team and providing the foundation for good results by keeping things tight at the back.

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