For many fans, football is just more than a game. They follow all the games, support the team, and share the ups and downs year in, year out. That being said, it’s particularly annoying, and sometimes even stressful when your team is in a downward spiral, with relegation even looming over the edge. It can lead to a lot of frustration, and for teams like West Ham, it’s really reached the threshold level. With another 3-0 loss at Arsenal, the Hammers are as far as can be from the promising Europa League start they had at the start of the season.
It’s been downhill on all fronts for a club that many pundits thought to have no place to go but upwards. First came the embarrassing exit out of the Europa League to Astra, and a poor start fueled by crowd violence at London Stadium. In January came the exit of star man Dimitri Payet to Marseille, a fan favorite that was thought to lead West Ham to unparalleled success. As a West Ham fan, it’s sad to see a club with so much promise at the end of last season just five points above relegation. At this point last season, Alexandre Lacazette was linked with a move to the club- this year, the team’s top transfer target January was Brentford’s Scott Hogan. What has led to such a bad downhill spiral for West Ham?
In a previous article, I discussed how the stadium move influenced the bad performances on the pitch (READ: here). Today I want to talk about a more direct cause- squad depth and selection. Obviously the loss of Dimitri Payet was crucial in the recent bad run of form, but not all can be blamed on his absence. There are three transfer targets that I want to look at for the Hammers, which could really make them be a much better team next season and reach the levels fans hoped they would this year.
There’s no other way to put it- West Ham’s defense is not quality, especially the full-back positions. Aaron Cresswell has been a shadow of his former self this season, and is yet again out with an injury. Sam Byram’s counter-attacking play has been poor. He has shown a few bright spots this season, and I can see him as a good player to come in the future. However, he still needs development and doesn’t fully click with players like Robert Snodgrass in crossing positions. Cheikhou Kouyate has been playing in the full-back role for several games, and while it is evident that Kouyate’s versatility certainly helps the team in situations like these, he is not fully adapted to the role.
Solution: Arthur Masuaku
Unlike the other two positions, the solution to the full-back dilemma is already playing for West Ham- well, more like sitting on the bench. Arthur Masuaku is a highly touted youngster who was sought after by Inter Milan and Roman when he was playing at Olympiakos, and should be eager to cement a starting role as left-back in the absence of Cresswell. While his first few starts were rough adjusting to the more faster and physical Premier League, his individual skills on the ball and crossing ability could prove to be effective. Usually being on the back foot against upper half teams, West Ham has to be smart and efficient on counter-attacks. Masuaku could provide that spark.
West Ham already have one very talented attacking-minded midfielder in Manuel Lanzini. The rest, however, are mediocre at best. Captain Mark Noble is well past his prime, and Pedro Obiang is out until the end of the season. He seems to fit in well at the role, but is out until the end of the season. What West Ham needs is a versatile midfielder who can be influential on both sides of the pitch, taking the ball in one end and creating chances on the other.
Solution: Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere could be the perfect complement to Lanzini in midfield. While Lanzini is attack-minded and can take on defenders one on one, Wilshire is a box-to-box midfielder who can spray all types of passes in attacking plays. At just 26 years of age, the Arsenal loanee at Bournemouth could prove to be a vital piece in the West Ham midfield should he sign with the Hammers.
The Hammers need a striker, preferably one that’s not injury prone. Andy Carroll is a big physical presence whenever he steps onto the pitch, but is often out with medical issues. A fast, pacy striker who can get in behind the defense could be what is needed, adept at counter-attacking with a clinical finish.
Solution: Lucas Perez
The Arsenal fallout could turn out to be a big success at West Ham. Despite scoring 7 goals in 21 appearances for the Gunners, Perez has not been able to find a regular role under Arsene Wenger and is said to want a move away from the Emirates ‘at all costs’. West ham could be the perfect destination, who are in need of a pacy, clinical striker and can offer him regular Premier League football. With rapid players like Feghouli and Antonio on the flanks and Perez down the middle, there could be an attacking force to be reckoned with developing at West Ham.
Let us know what you think in the comments!