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Monday musings: defensive frailties prove costly again

Filed: Monday, 30th November 2015
By: Graeme Howlett

West Ham United's run of Premier League games without a win extended to four on Sunday afternoon following a desperately disappointing draw at home to West Bromwich Albion at the Boleyn Ground.

In itself, a 1-1 draw with Tony Pulis' Baggies isn't the worst possible result.

However it will satisfy few Hammers fans given the Irons' complete dominance of the opening 45 minutes and the team's disappointing home record so far this season, with just two wins at the Boleyn since August to boast of.

Prior to the half time interval on Sunday, Slaven Bilic's side bossed the game; they enjoyed 62 per cent of possession, created eight chances - to Albion's two - and scored the only goal of the half, a fantastic free kick from Mauro Zarate.

It all looked so good after Zarate's opener...

However there were few West Ham fans inside the Boleyn who, if questioned, would have argued the Argentine's strike would be sufficient to secure all three points - and that's exactly how it transpired, with Ricky Lambert grabbing a point for Albion courtesy of a deflected shot five minutes after the restart.

In the end either side could have grabbed a winner although a draw was probably a fair result. But West Ham's inability to keep a clean sheet is becoming a major concern and seriously affecting what was a fantastic start to the campaign.

You have to go back to the 2-0 win over a hapless Newcastle United on September 14th to find West Ham's last clean sheet, some ten matches ago - and that was only their third of the campaign, having kept Arsenal at bay on the opening day of the season and then Liverpool in our first win on Merseyside since 1963.

Since then, Bilic's team have shipped 17 goals, even though Tottenham are the only opponent who managed to register more than twice. And regardless of the personnel employed - Angelo Ogbonna returned to the starting XI in place of the out-of-form James Tomkins this weekend - it appears to make little difference to West Ham's defensive frailties.

... but Ricky Lambert's deflected equaliser secured a point for Albion

Yet perhaps an even bigger blow than the two points dropped was the loss of Diafra Sakho to a thigh muscle injury, one that is likely to keep the Senegal international out of action for the rest of the year - at least.

And although he was far from his best against Albion, the striker's pace and commitment will be hugely missed by the Hammers who are already operating without fellow goalscorer Enner Valencia who has also been sidelined until the new year.

Although the point briefly lifted West Ham back up to seventh place in the table, it doesn't get any easier for United with the daunting prospect of a trip to Old Trafford on the horizon. Without the likes of Dimitri Payet and Sakho - who between them have contributed one third of the goals scored this season - it promises to be an even tougher task than usual.

* An abridged version of this article first appeared in the Echo newspaper. Images © Daily Mail and Sun Sport.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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