West Ham United: The Good and the Bad of the Season so Far
We´re now eleven games into the season and flying high. As we near the half way point, we can see our team finally taking shape, playing coherent football with enough creativity to frustrate supposedly better teams.
There are not many negatives, and more than enough positives to keep everyone debating all the way to January, so let´s take a look at how the team is shaping up, the good and the bad.
Good: Kevin Nolan
Hello, Mr. Hodgson. Myself and the rest of the Claret and Blue faithful would like to ask you why the premiership´s leading English goalscorer hasn´t been chosen over Wilfried Zaha. Care to respond?
Kevin Nolan has gone from strength to strength this season, with his chicken run celebration becoming a welcome and familiar sight during a West Ham fixture. His goals are one of the most important reasons that West Ham are currently sixth in the league. Though this does lead me onto the first negative.
Bad: Over-Reliance on the Midfield
I cannot knock Andy Carroll for his performances per se. He has set up goals and caused havoc amid the opposition back four. He has spectacular vision and the touch to match.
The downside, and this applies to all of our strikers, is that they are not scoring.
Granted, Tim Krul pulled off an amazing save to deny Carroll what could have been a good goal, but he´s not being played as a striker. Sam Allardyce is playing him as a target man who feeds balls down to an advancing Nolan or a bull-like Mohamed Diame, but he´s not getting the service that he needs to score goals for himself. He is the focal point of the attack when he should be the one creating the end product.
Then, we have Allardyce´s favourite tactic: taking a pacy striker and playing him as a winger. Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga are fast strikers with a lethal finish, but they are being played on the wing, limiting their ability to burst into the box and score goals. They need to go into a more central position. Then the question is who do you drop?
Good: A Dominant Midfield
Seriously, Roy, how have you managed to ignore West Ham when making your selection?
Mark Noble has been a revelation this season, bossing the midfield and allowing Nolan and Diame to get forward to collect the knock downs from Carroll. His passing has been assured and his maturity to hang back and not overstretch the midfield during an attack. Surely, he deserves a first cap.
As I have spoken at length about Nolan and Diame in previous posts, let´s analyse the rest of the supporting cast.
Matt Jarvis, whilst somewhat anonymous in the last game, has shown his pace and his ability to swing in a threatening cross in previous games, injury allowing. He hasn´t justified his 10 million pound price tag just yet, but he is proving to be an important asset in our push for an impressive finish.
On the other side, we have Yossi Benayoun. This is his second stint at Upton Park, and he is only just being given the chance to shine, though an injury might curtail his momentum. Otherwise, he has proved creative enough to ensure that service is being provided across the midfield.
Bad: James Collins' Mistakes
Many Hammers cheered when the board announced the resigning of the Ginger Ninja. He may be getting on in years, but he is a player on the verge of legendary. So, why does he keep making mistakes?
It seems that he makes one mistake every game that could have been, or has been, a goal for the opposition. Be it under hit back passes or a lack of pace that has allowed strikers and wingers to get behind him, he does seem the weak link in a strong wall.
Good: Winston Reid
Winston Reid has been West Ham´s most improved player this season by far. It may have taken two and a bit seasons for him to really hit his potential and his stride at a high level, but he could not have picked a better time to be the first name in that back four.
Rarely putting a foot wrong, Reid has risen to the challenge of top quality strikers and proved their better on many occasions.
Bad: A Lack of Depth in Goal
Firstly, this is not an attack on Jussi Jaaskelainen, who has been a pair of sure hands between the sticks. Instead, I'm looking at Stephen Henderson and how many goals he has let in whilst on loan at Ipswich.
Henderson has leaked goals on a consistent basis and is looking like he wouldn't be a fourth choice keeper, let alone Jaaskelainen's replacement.
Good: Variation in Tactics
Quite simply, one second we´re playing long ball, then we´re playing passing, then running, followed by possession but not in that order. We´re being creative and positively so.
We are cursed.
Every season, our squad's depth is put to the test by a legion of pulled hamstrings and dodgy shoulders. It´s not something that you can prepare for, but it´s a kick in the teeth.
Hit the comments section and keep on Blowing Bubbles. West Ham are here to stay!