It marks a welcome change that there are a host of West Ham United players who can lay claim to being the star of the club’s season so far.
When a host of pundits predicted West Ham would reach this stage of the season bottom of the table with no points there weren’t too many fans disagreeing with them.
But fast forward six games since that lacklustre opening day defeat to Newcastle and things are oh so different.
West Ham have earned eight points from one of the toughest runs of fixtures ever handed to a team at the start of a Premier League season.
And by rights they should have at least 10 – which would be a fairer reflection of their start.
Hammers star of the season so far? Take your pick
Perhaps just as surprising and hard-earned as the points is West Ham’s positive goal difference.
Any number of players have starred so far.
Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell in David Moyes’s new-look formation have been excellent.
Angelo Ogbonna has been as dependable as ever and even earned an Italy recall.
Declan Rice has been outstanding. Michail Antonio had continued his superb form from last season until his injury.
Vladimir Coufal has been great since his arrival. Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen have married hardwork with goals and assists from the wide positions.
Balbuena the unsung West Ham hero
But is Fabian Balbuena, the forgotten man supposedly not rated by David Moyes and written off as a bad Mario Husillos buy, the unsung hero of them all?
Balbuena arrived at West Ham in the summer of 2018 for around £3.5million. He was one of Husillos and Manuel Pellegrini’s signings during the £90million splurge.
Balbuena impressed his first season, making 23 appearances and averaging a hugely impressive 6.98 average match rating (Whoscored.com).
If his debut season was a success, his second was torrid. Balbuena made just 17 appearances for the Hammers, most of them while Pellegrini was still the manager.
Balbuena lost his place under David Moyes and barely kicked a ball for the remainder of the campaign.
He then became one of the names used by certain sources in the blame game directed at Husillos and Pellegrini over their dealings.
It says everything that West Ham insiders Claret & Hugh – who have close links to the club’s owners – claimed Balbuena was up for sale over the summer.
Indeed Moyes brought in Craig Dawson on loan and saw a host of bids knocked back for other central defenders.
Fab stats from a man with a point to prove
Despite it being clear Balbuena was far from first choice under Moyes, the 29-year-old has revived his West Ham career in the manager’s new formation.
With the added protection of two centre-back partners Balbuena has been immense so far.
And it shows in his statistics (Whoscored.com).
His average match rating is over 7. And he has made just under two crucial tackles per game, 2.4 interceptions, won 0.4 offsides, made just under six clearances and 0.2 blocks.
The West Ham defender has been dribbled past less than once per game. And he has only committed just over one foul per match too.
His stats make for impressive reading. But his leadership on the pitch and his committed style have been just as endearing.
And let’s not forget the all-important – and excellently taken – goal against Tottenham which got the ball rolling on that unforgettable comeback.
It speaks volume that Balbuena has kept his place in the side despite Issa Diop being fit as well.
Balbuena’s contract is up at the end of this season.
And he is certainly playing like a man with a point to prove.
Long may it continue for West Ham.