After a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea, West Ham find themselves above the relegation zone only by goal difference.
This weekend their London counterparts, Fulham, will look to leapfrog the Hammers and send them into the danger zone. But why are West Ham in this position?
Last year they were flying, and also grabbed a famous victory over Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground. Goals from Mohamed Diame, Carlton Cole and Modibo Maiga turned the game around, and sent fans home purring over a fine display. However, none of these three even started against Chelsea last weekend, and this is where the first issue arises.
After the win away at Tottenham, the 4-6-0 formation lost its surprise factor. Despite having fit strikers available to play, Big Sam has persisted in the formation and this has hindered West Ham’s goal-scoring capabilities.
Even if Carlton Cole, Mladen Petric or Modibo Maiga do not score freely, a target man who will occupy one of the central defenders is key in building attacks for West Ham. Midfielders running from deep just won’t cut it for the majority of the time - especially at home. It begs the question why Allardyce has signed Cole and Petric if he isn’t going to play them?
The next issue is personal errors. Guy Demel was the culprit this time against Chelsea, but Jussi Jaaskelainen was at fault away at Norwich. Mark Noble’s sending off against Everton paved the way for their victory, and arguably a refereeing error cost the Hammers away at Hull. If those errors had not have happened, then we might have seen a West Ham side with eight more points at a minimum.
I have already written about why West Ham’s starting line-up should not automatically contain Kevin Nolan, and his performances since then have not seemed to vindicate his selection.
Allardyce persists in playing the midfielder, but in a 4-6-0 formation Nolan is very ineffective. In fact I would say against Chelsea he was useless, and we should have had a striker on instead.
Joe Cole was also taken off, a player also more than capable of playing in Kevin’s position. Add to the mix the fact that Matt Jarvis (West Ham’s record signing) and Mohamed Diame didn’t even make the first 11, then there are some alarm bells ringing over team selection as well.
If West Ham are to reach the level of performances we saw last season then these issues all need to be addressed. The major concern for me, however, is an over reliance on Andy Carroll when he comes back.
Unless changes are made in accordance with his return, we will not see the anticipated improvement in the Hammers' fortunes. Sam has until the Sunderland game to turn things around, or he may be walking out of the door.
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