Text  Larger | Smaller | Default


As it stands: West Ham United strengths and weaknesses

Filed: Monday, 21st August 2017
By: Staff Writer #3

Let’s lay some facts bare: West Ham has not had a brilliant pre-season or a terrific start to the competitive games.

Two draws, two losses and one win during pre-season, and one loss during this season’s opening match against Manchester United. Despite this rather negative observation, these games have given us time to observe and analyse the lads on the pitch, what worked and what didn’t, as well as helped to pave the way for strategic improvements in the team.

We’re now going to take a look at what we’ve observed from watching the Hammers on the pitch. Can the club manage to turn its weaknesses into strengths? The bookies aren’t exactly delivering high hopes: with a 350/1 chance of winning the Premier League, the club has to prove it’s worth its salt to earn a better position than the one placed in the 2016/2017 season. With the football betting season now open, avid fans who enjoy betting on their favourite teams will hope for more favourable results – especially those who have groaned in exasperation these past months. But are the Hammers ready to deliver?

Weakness: Injuries

For the last two summers, West Ham have had their pre-season interrupted with Europa League competitive games, an event which upset the player’s individual training program. This year, medical planning could be set in stone up until the first season match against Manchester United, reducing chances of injuries and dedicating more energy to the individual player’s fitness. However, stoic fans will still shake their head in disagreement, stating that the players’ fitness performance on the pitch was, and still is worrying, especially given the dismal display against Man Utd.

The new Summer signings were all fit to take on Manchester United, but no matter how careful one’s medical planning and training (with physio Gary Lewin newly appointed at the helm of the Hammers’ medical services), injuries will always find a way to creep up on the team. Andy Carroll, Cheikhou Kouyate, Michail Antonio, Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini have all missed out on the season’s first match due to injuries. Whether this has had an affect on the disappointing 4-0 loss to Man Utd is still to be decided.

Strength: The “Academy of Football” can still provide rising stars – enter Declan Rice.

The 18-year old teenager initially made his breakthrough from U16s to U18s in the 2014/2015 season, making a lasting impression on both coaches and fans. He has also recently won the Young Hammer of The Year award for his outstanding performance so early in his career. Touted as the star of the pre-season tour, Rice shone in his defending role and is definitely one to look out for this season.

The fans are also pleased with Rice’s intentions to be the next Mark Noble, a player who has been on West Ham’s books for his entire football career. In a world dominated by overblown transfer markets and where talent comes with a hefty price tag attached, this sentiment is commendable. While achieving that sort of status will require a lot of work, the rising star is well on his way to meet those ends.

Declan Rice has also been called up for a position on the Republic of Ireland national team only two days after his debut on the Premier League in the 2016/2017 season. This will definitely help him acquire more experience on international fronts.

Strength: New Summer Signings

Two names: Hernandez and Arnautovic. Former Manchester United front man, Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez may be the answer to many a West Ham fan prayers. Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio both struggled to net goals last year, making the demand for a quality striker imperative to achieve favourable results on the pitch, not to mention Andy Carroll’s injuries and other failed attempts at acquiring decent strikers. Hernandez’s track record is on his side, with 1 goal every 134 minutes. He has proven to be consistent, though it is up to Bilic to somehow give enough fodder to West Ham’s Chicarito – who has a tendency to score when given the chance.

Embed from Getty Images

The Mexican is not the only new hopeful star on this side of London. Arnautovic’s £24 million signing is West Ham’s record signing to date, with, many claim, the talent to prove it. Famous for his swagger on and off the pitch, Marko Arnautovic signed a five year deal with a club he has deemed as “big”, with a “big history”. With Arnautovic on the left of Hernandez, Lanzini on the right and Antonio bringing up the rear, West Ham fans are hopeful that this star line up could improve their position from 11th last year. However, we will need to wait at least 2 more games for everyone to get back in shape to see this promising quartet in action.

Strength: A fresh start

The Hammers’ first season at their new London Stadium was far from smooth. The transition may well have boosted their morale starting off, but it became apparent very soon that they lacked a sense of direction. London Stadium was not enough to get the team where they wanted to be by the end of the season. Of their 8 new signings, five left and Slaven Bilic was refused a new contract, making this year his last. As a result, bookies are not looking at the side of London favourably this year either, despite the new signings.

Despite all this, these past games were the perfect chance for all the players on the team to start afresh, bolstered by the new, big signings from Premier League players. It may not have taken off at an astonishingly bright start, but it has been the chance to visualise the players’ performance and to look forward in anticipation for the full team. That’s when avid West Ham punters will, hopefully, have their hands full with more favourable odds.

Embed from Getty Images

So what will it be this time round? Will the Hammers provide us with exhilarating games or will we have to endure a slow-paced team, out of ideas and lacking in tactical strategies?
Will they offer enough excitement for the bookies to change their position, or are West Ham fans destined to bet against the team they love to win? While betting around the clock might be an option for fans who need more than the weekly Premier League betting fix, viewers will have follow the fixture dates to see whether the beautiful game will unfold the way they want it to at the London Stadium.

The Guardian place West Ham in 10th position this year, just one up from last year. Perhaps it’s time to step up the game and start netting the goals we are thirsty for.

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.

Your Comments

comments powered by Disqus