Why West Ham United need not be worried about their slow start this season
West Ham United currently find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table after three back-to-back defeats at the hands of Liverpool, Bournemouth, and Arsenal. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have failed to pick up any points from their first three games but the Hammers have shown plenty of character.
From a realistic point of view, West Ham are still a mid-table team despite their spending spree over the summer. Hence, losing against Arsenal and Liverpool shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
The Hammers were poor in the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool. Pellegrini’s decision to play a high defensive line against a team stocked with world-class attackers is questionable as well. However, they put up a brave challenge against Arsenal. Despite taking the lead against the Gunners, West Ham fell apart in the later stages of the game and suffered a 3-1 loss.
However, West Ham have every reason to blame themselves for the 2-1 loss against AFC Bournemouth. The Hammers looked on course for three points after Marko Arnautovic put them ahead from the penalty spot but some bizarre defending from the Londoners allowed Callum Wilson and company to snatch the victory.
Even though West Ham have had a poor start to the season, they have plenty of positives to take from the losses. For example, their new arrivals have been quite impressive so far.
Until now, Felipe Anderson has been their standout performer in the ongoing campaign. The Brazilian has quickly adapted himself to the demanding nature of the Premier League and has played brilliantly, to be honest. Not only has he looked like a threat in the attacking third but the Brazilian also tracks back to help out his defenders.
He has shown tremendous pace and energy while carrying the ball into the attacking third from the deeper areas of the pitch. Pellegrini has assigned him a free role in the attacking third and the Brazilian has made the best use of that opportunity. The manager’s flexibility has allowed him to play with a lot of freedom – through the left, right and the centre of the park.
Anderson’s ability to link up play with Robert Snodgrass, Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez has made the Hammers look menacing while going forward. It was Anderson’s incisive pass to Hernandez that lead to the penalty incident against Bournemouth and the new signing also played a part in Arnautovic’s goal against Arsenal. He has created numerous opportunities for the strikers.
West Ham should take heart from the showings of Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic as well. Andriy Yarmolenko has looked bright enough in the limited game time he has received. Jack Wilshere has also shown glimpses of his past brilliance.
That said, defending has been a major problem for the Hammers as neither the centre-backs nor the full-backs have looked comfortable. Pablo Zabaleta can be partially blamed for Callum Wilson’s goal and Pellegrini replaced him with Ryan Fredericks in the next game.
While centre-backs Angelo Ogbonna and Fabio Balbuena have been average, to say the least, West Ham have lacked an effective leader in the absence of Mark Noble. New signing Issa Diop has looked good but conceded an own goal against Arsenal.
West Ham should tie the loose ends and take heart from the positives they have shown in the previous games. They have the makings of a solid mid-table team and should aim to get their campaign back on track this weekend as they face Wolverhampton Wanderers.