Settling In and Underperforming: Issues amongst West Ham’s Front Four
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 16 October 2019 at 7:46pm
Written by: @daena_bodie
A lot of things didn’t go West Ham’s way against Crystal Palace before the season’s second international break. A bit of poor decision making from Declan Rice led to Patrick Van Aanholt putting away a Palace penalty and then an extremely tight VAR call saw Jordan Ayew finish the game off on in the dying minutes.
While the chips didn’t fall for West Ham at the London Stadium, the Hammers didn’t quite do enough to finish the game off in the first place. The East Londoners have lost seven points from winning positions this season, with only Aston Villa giving up more (8). Pellegrini’s side are showing some frailty when it comes to closing out games and it could be said that it is stemming from the sides lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.
That’s not to say that the Hammers aren’t scoring goals – they currently sit just outside of the top ten in goals scored – but based on the attacking style of play and threat the club have going forward, most fans are expecting more.
Looking back at the Palace game, West Ham edged the possession (51.7 per cent) and matched Palace’s shots on target but failed to put the game to bed. Haller, Anderson, Yarmolenko, and Lanzini were on the pitch for a large part of the match and it just wasn’t clicking for them. With Haller’s presence up top, many fans are questioning why service into the French target man is so limited.
It’s hard to argue against Haller being one of the best target forwards in the league at the moment and his ability to bring those around him into play with such ease is something to be admired. However, two of the three players behind him are finding it difficult to deliver consistent performances. Most fans will be hoping that this disjointed service to Haller is simply an issue related to the Frenchman settling into the squad and something that will be resolved with time amongst West Ham’s other attacking players.
Outside of Haller’s growing chemistry with those around him, it has to be noted that Lanzini offered up a poor performance in his first full start since picking up a knock and Anderson has been hugely inconsistent despite popping up with the odd assist here and there. The form of those two West Ham stars has really minimised any potent threat that the club have going forward.
It’s a tough issue to fix because it’s not a lack of quality or poor tactics; it doesn’t even necessarily concern Haller or Yarmolenko, but a lot of West Ham’s attacking “woes” are down to the fact that two of the four up-front are underperforming. After seeing promising glimpses from Lanzini early in the season and knowing that Felipe Anderson is a slow starter, there is still a lot of promise for West Ham as the season goes on. Now the international break is over, Lanzini needs to find form and quick, while fans are begging for Anderson to step up and start taking games by the scruff of the neck. If not, it could be time for Pellegrini to start shuffling the pack with an array of talented youngsters eager to stake their claim.