West Ham United – The Season So Far
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 23 October 2020 at 6:53pm
Written by: Harry Fitzpatrick
After the drama of Sunday’s game against Tottenham, West Ham sit ninth in the table heading into the next round of Premier League fixtures, with seven points from a possible 15. In a normal season that may seem a slightly disappointing start; however, if you were offered that after the opening day disaster you wouldn’t turn that down. Since the Newcastle horror show, we have won two, drawn one and lost the other, all against 4 of last season’s top 8. That’s the form of a side who want to challenge for European football.
The change that stands out is the shift in formation before the Wolves win. We looked lost on the opening day. Rice played one of his worst games in a West Ham shirt, the defence was non-existent, and we were toothless in attack. Since then, the front three have scored eight goals between them and Fabianski has conceded just five, three of which were in the abysmal opening 16 minutes on Sunday.
It is hard to deny the quality of Spur’s attacking trio. Supported by Bergwijn and Bale, it has to be one of the most dangerous in the league. They have already scored five against Southampton, seven against Maccabi Haifa and six against Manchester United this season. As brutal as that first 20 minutes was, we aren’t the first and surely won’t be the last to suffer defensively against them this year. Not many will bounce back for a point.
That being said, it cannot become a theme of our season. The defence that denied a Leicester attack spearheaded by Jamie Vardy a shot on target must return if we are to stand a chance in our next two matches. First at home to Manchester City then away to a Liverpool side who will still be waving pitchforks outside Jordan Pickford’s front door. After that, the fixture list finally eases up on us, and as brilliant as Lanzini’s strike was, my heart cannot handle it every week.
Another key aspect to our positive start has been the continuation of Antonio’s post lockdown form. After scoring eight during Project Restart last season, his two goals in five games return seems like a drop off on paper. That is not the case though, as you cannot underestimate his importance to the team, especially in the Wolves and Leicester games. His hold up play has been phenomenal and the way he’s linked up with Fornals (who’s notably improved out on the left) and Bowen has given us a front three anyone in the league is scared of. The way he bullied Soyuncu at the King Power stadium was almost unfair, and that was just a week after he toyed with the England centre-half Conor Coady. It is key Antonio remains fit with there just Haller waiting in the wings for his chance. An injury crisis could seriously derail the season, so the medical team have a real task on their hands. With a bit of luck, there may be some incomings in January to ease this issue.
We could do with signings not just up top, but almost all over the park. The lack of depth at Left Back and Central Midfield are blindingly obvious. The signing of Coufal has been a success and that area of the pitch looks sorted for the foreseeable. January could be a huge month of the season. If we are pushing the Europa League spots, or alternatively toying with the relegation zone, Gold and Sullivan may feel their hand is forced in terms of bringing in new signings. If we are sat in 12th, comfortably mid table and Europe out of sight, I don’t see any major signings being pushed through. Arguably it’s more important that Rice stays. There are rumours of him being offered a large new contract to put off any Chelsea interest and encourage him to stay, whether or not they are true only time (or Ex) will tell.
Considering it wasn’t all that unlikely we’d have no points until November, this has been an incredibly positive start to the season. Complacency must not creep in though, it was only last September we drew away at Bournemouth and moved up to third, whilst Bournemouth dropped to seventh. Come August, we stayed up by the skin of our teeth whilst they began preparations for a year in the Sky Bet Championship.