West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has called on his players to turn their recent blip around against Newcastle this weekend, insisting that the next five matches will define their season.
The Hammers were unbeaten in five games prior to the loss at Everton last week however they now haven’t tasted victory in their last three.
Allardyce is adamant the team needs to recapture their cutting edge or run the risk of seeing their impressive start to the campaign tail off to a disappointing outcome.
The Hammers have been extremely impressive over the course of the season thus far, deservedly beating the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. Their only two poor performances came in the loss to Southampton and the draw against Stoke, other than that they have put in consistently good performances.
It has become apparent, though, that in their last three matches their clinical finishing has deserted them.
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This has not been helped by injuries to their two front men Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia, who may have been able to influence the outcome of the games against Aston Villa and Everton, but it is something that needs to be rectified quickly in order to keep the side’s confidence up.
“We have to turn this slight blip around quickly. Winning games gives you the confidence you need and we haven't had that recently,” Allardyce told the official club website.
“We know if we're going to have to convert our performances into wins. The main thing we need to do is to find our clinical finishing again. That was what was so good in the early part of the season."
The Hammers next five fixtures are Newcastle, West Brom, Swansea, Sunderland and Leicester which are all winnable games. They will hope to have players returning from injury during this period, too, which should provide a welcome boost.
Allardyce has stated the club usually struggle over the busy Christmas period and it will be a massive test of his team’s credentials this time around. It will take great character for them to get the results on the board during the hectic spell of matches, but if they do it will give them massive confidence and a good platform to push on for a finish in a European spot.
“It's a hugely important time for us. Historically we've struggled at this point. The last international break was in many ways the worst I've suffered because three players came back injured,” Allardyce said.
“Dealing with the amount of games in such a short period of time is a massive test for us all, it'll define how our season goes I think. We haven't achieved the results that our performances have merited which is really disappointing.”
Quick turnaround needed
Allardyce will be hoping they can turn their fortunes around against an in-form Newcastle side on Saturday. A win against Alan Pardew’s outfit, who have won six matches on the bounce in all competitions, would restore them with the confidence they need to go on another unbeaten run.
Andy Carroll will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to deliver the goods against his former side with Sakho and Valencia still expected to be out. The Hammers results could well come down to how quickly it takes the 25-year-old to find his form after his lengthy spell on the sidelines, a goal against Newcastle would do everyone at the club a world of good.