Blood, sweat and tears but still West Ham are in the bottom three at New Year
PUBLISHED: 13:30 02 January 2018
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Dave Evans looks at the rollercoaster ride that has faced West Ham fans so far this season
After all the fine and surprising results against the Premier League big boys; after the watertight defensive formation that new boss David Moyes introduced, West Ham will have started 2018 sitting in the bottom three and with plenty of problems.
They were certainly not helped by the disgraceful overrule of Bournemouth’s injury-time equaliser on Boxing Day by referee Bobby Madley.
Nowhere near in line with the play, he discarded the linesman’s decision to rule it offside and at the same time, they both missed Callum Wilson putting the ball in with his arm.
It was a similar situation at the beginning of the season when Southampton were awarded a last-minute penalty for what looked an innocuous push by Pablo Zabaleta.
That cost the Hammers a point, while the Bournemouth game resulted in two points lost and it has been a sign of what has gone wrong this season under both Slaven Bilic and now Moyes.
Bilic had to go. He was too close to his team and that meant a lack of discipline and a lack of intensity in training which affected them on the pitch.
He had done well in his tenure at the club, but he had taken the team as far as they could go, especially after the mutiny of his man Dimitri Payet.
Moyes came in on a contract until the end of the season and it was fair to say that he arrived with low expectations among the fans.
But his training methods seem to have a positive effect and the games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal showed just what his West Ham team could do.
He made it five at the back, gave Arthur Masuaku his head on the left-hand side and turned around the floundering West Ham career of Marko Arnautovic.
He helped the team to their first away league win of the season at Stoke City, but it was after that win that the wheels came off once again.
Moyes decided to rest players for the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Arsenal. They lost and it seemed to lose the team their momentum as they then lost at home to a poor Newcastle side.
Then came that Bournemouth game which they would have won, but for that dreadful refereeing decision.
But in truth, it was an equaliser that was waiting to happen. The Cherries, like the Magpies, seemed to cut through the West Ham defence at will and though they were lucky to get that goal, they always looked like they might get it.
Late goals have been a story of the season. They have let in eight goals in seven games in the final 10 minutes of games.
There were two against Manchester United on the opening day, but one apiece against Southampton, Newcastle, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Bournemouth.
That has cost them seven precious points that would have put them in 11th place in the Premier League rather than third from bottom and we would not be holding this inquest.
Players need to improve. We need to see more from Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Cheikhou Kouyate, Winston Reid and Javier Hernandez.
These are some of the key players for the club, quality Premier League players who if they are firing on all cylinders would make sure that West Ham are not battling among the relegation candidates.
But Moyes has a lot of work to do. He must find the right formation to get his best players on the field, while he must add some steel and determination to the squad with some fresh players.
The new manager is in a hurry. He has only until the end of the season to prove that he deserves a new contract.
It is not inconceivable that this West Ham team could go down, but they should be good enough to stay up and do a little bit more.
Surely there are at least three teams who are worse than the Hammers.
Hammers: W7 D6 L11 F30 A41
Scorers: Ayew 6, Arnautovic 5, Hernandez 4, Sakho 4, Ogbonna 3, Kouyate 2, Antonio 1, Lanzini 1, Noble 1, Obiang 1, Masuaku 1, Collins 1.
Five clean sheets in nine games and he adds an authority to the defence. Clearly he is the number one.
Joe Hart 6
Hasn’t played badly, but has let in too many goals and doesn’t seem to inspire the defence.
Pablo Zabaleta 7
Started the season badly, before finding a rich vein of form. Has struggled a little lately.
Winston Reid 6
Injured too often and it has been difficult coming in and out of the team. Nowhere near his best.
Angelo Ogbonna 7
Surprisingly, the best defender this season, but that tells us the troubles the team has been in so far.
James Collins 7
Long-term injury has not helped him, but when he comes into the team he lets nobody down. Scored a goal.
Aaron Cresswell 6
Been moved from left back to centre back by Moyes and though he coped well, it has not been ideal.
Declan Rice 7
Shown he can hold his own in midfield and defence, although he has made one or two costly mistakes.
Arthur Masuaku 7
The big find by Moyes. Has dazzled on the left, created chances and had shots on goal. Does lose it too often.
Pedro Obiang 6
Always works hard and tackles well, but inconsistent and the new boss seems unconvinced by him.
Cheikhou Kouyate 4
Been injured at times, but when he has played he has looked poor and unable to work his way into games.
Mark Noble 6
Dropped by Moyes, but has shown when in the team that he still has things to offer as the team leader.
Marko Arnautovic 8
Club record signing started terribly with red card, but since Moyes’ arrival he has proved himself invaluable.
Manuel Lanzini 6
Had a great game at Stoke and a few other moments, but has not taken games by the scruff of the neck.
Andre Ayew 7
Leading scorer, but still doubts about him. Drifts in and out of games and his best position is unclear.
Michail Antonio 5
Has worked hard, but doesn’t look fully fit and has only one goal to his name. Always seems knackered.
Javier Hernandez 6
Started well enough, but Bilic messed with his position and now he can’t get into the team. Looks disinterested.
Diafra Sakho 7
Has scored goals and always looked dangerous when he comes on, but still hasn’t had a league start.
Andy Carroll 6
Has looked dangerous at times, but still has no goals and no assists this season. Must do better and soon.