West Ham United: Why Things Are Rosier Than the Last Premiership Campaign
It has been a good few months for West Ham United.
They are sitting ninth in the table as of November 8, with goals in hand and points firmly under their belts.
Some people are now pointing to our latest run of games over the next couple of months as a sign that we are about to start slipping down the table. These are most likely the same people who tipped us for relegation—a prospect that is as unlikely as John Terry winning a MOBO.
But, honestly, do we really have a reason to cheer this season?
Let's have a look...
A recurring problem with West Ham has been our inability to attract a top quality striker to our ranks in recent years.
Paolo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez aside, we have not had a striker come to our team who has set the world on fire. This may be for a couple of reasons, poor service being the most likely, but we have always seemed a little shy in front of goal.
That is until West Ham manager Sam Allardyce found his man.
Andy Carroll epitomizes everything about Allardyce's famous long ball tactic. He's tall, strong and, unlike Carlton Cole, good with his feet and smart with the ball in open play. He hasn't scored at the time of writing, but he has set up vital goals and forced the opposition into playing deeper and drawing their attention away from other key players.
We also have Modibo Maiga, a player with pace and the ability to beat men with ease, as we saw with his perfectly crafted finish against a struggling Southampton.
He may not be a starter, possibly due to fitness, a contract stipulation or Allardyce's belief that Carlton Cole is more valuable due to his experience, but it is hard to argue that we are going to suffer for goals when he is on the bench.
A Midfield That Runs Like a Dream
After our first match, Mohamed Diame had his own Twitter account retelling Chuck Norris facts in his name, Kevin Nolan had a goal, Mark Noble had hit his stride and we knew that Yossi Benayoun and Matt Jarvis were almost ready.
This is not forgetting that Matt Taylor, Alou Diarra, Jack Collison and Gary O'Neil are waiting in the wings, which makes it a first in a long time that West Ham have had quality in reserves. In years before, an injury to a key man would decimate the side, as shown when Scott Parker would get injured.
Now, we have options to play other formations should Nolan, Diame or Noble get injured.
As an added bonus, they are scoring the goals that we need whilst our strike force find their feet and chemistry. Nolan has always been an underrated player, and his elevation to that Paul Scholes/Gascoigne role has made him a massive goal threat.
Mark Noble is reminding us why he is our penalty maestro, and Diame is reminding us why Chuck Norris won't go to sleep in the dark if West Ham loses.
An (Almost) Consistent Defence
Out of 10 games played this season, I can count on one hand the amount of times that our defence has been run ragged.
As a supporter for over 20 years, I cannot express, in words, how excited I am that our defence has become almost rock-like this season. Winston Reid has turned into a linebacker, stopping all who think that they can walk into our 18-yard box. James Tomkins is our best defender, and he is being forced to fight for a spot on the bench.
James Collins has made some errors, but he has also thrown himself in the line of some thunderous shots, though whether he tripped and fell is up for debate.
At fullback, Joey O'Brien has rediscovered his Bolton form, and George McCartney has linked up well with Matt Jarvis and, as a result of having the impressive Dan Potts waiting in the wings, he is playing some of his best football ever.
A Confident Goalkeeper
Just one look at the two very different seasons enjoyed by Jussi Jaaskelainen and Robert Green will show you that we made the right choice.
Green had a horrendous start to his QPR career, an annual performance that every West Ham fan would have been aware of, whilst Jaaskelainen has gone from strength to strength in the twilight of his career.
His kicking has been sure and his marshalling of the defence has contributed to some impressive displays.
The Emergence of a Potential Golden-Age
The West Ham developmental squad currently sit first in their league, with players such as Spence, Chambers and Hall appearing on the bench for the first team, and also gaining a few valuable minutes here and there.
To further aid their development, they are training with the first team.
Names like Dan Potts, Rob Hall, Eoin Wearen, Dylan Tombides and Jordan Spence are quickly becoming the names on everyone's lips, as the new youth structure in place this year has forced teams to modify their youth development.
Loans to lower league clubs have been replaced by taking the cream of the crop and having them spend time with the first team, easing their transition from youth to adult-level football.
I'm not holding out for European football in our first season but, by jingo, we're here to stay!