Defensive fragility defines poor start to the season
This season started very disappointingly for West Ham United, whereby Slaven Bilic’s side struggled throughout the months of both August and September.
Specifically, whilst losing their UEFA Europa League qualifying play-off to Astra Giurgiu for a second successive year, West Ham collected just three points from their first six English Premier League games.
In the process of doing so, they conceded 16 goals, with West Ham’s defensive fragility being compounded by a lack of cohesion, creativity and inventiveness in their attacking play.
Whilst goalkeeper Adrian delivered several unconvincing displays, with his decision-making and handling in particularly lacking conviction, the 29-year-old Spaniard was left severely exposed by a back four, who were guilty of haphazard and irresponsible defending.
Payet produces cataclysmic moment
However since witnessing his team lose 3-0 at home to Southampton at the end of September, when they were comprehensively outplayed, Bilic has galvanised his players to embark upon a markedly improved run of form, which began with a sublime solo goal by the mercurially talented Dimitri Payet.
With West Ham 1-0 down at home to Middlesbrough, Payet brilliantly drifted past several defenders, before angling a fine finish beyond Victor Valdes. Although unable to score a winning goal, West Ham earned a valuable point to end a run of four successive league defeats.
Subsequently Payet’s moment of individual magic has proved to be the catalyst for West Ham’s players to collectively rediscover their belief and confidence, as testified by their last two English Premier League performances.
Successive league wins for the Hammers
After securing their first away win of the season by beating Crystal Palace 1-0 at Selhurst Park, as Manuel Lanzini scored following excellent work undertaken by Aaron Cresswell, West Ham then overcame Sunderland.
In order to do so, they showed great determination, perseverance and resolve, since despite being frustrated by a resolute Sunderland defence for the majority of the game, West Ham once again won 1-0 courtesy of a 94th minute goal by Winston Reid.
The 28-year-old New Zealander scored with a powerful 18-yard shot to inject further momentum into West Ham’s season.
Progression in League Cup
That improved yet further as they progressed to the quarter finals of the English League Cup by thoroughly deservedly beating Chelsea 2-1.
Whilst Cheikou Kouyate gave West Ham the lead with an excellent header, Edmilson Fernandes scored a second goal, before Gary Cahill replied for Chelsea. Nevertheless by reassuming control of the game, West Ham emerged victorious after producing a cohesive, high-octane and intense performance, which was wonderfully appreciated by their loyal supporters.
Bilic oversees a marked upturn in West Ham’s fortunes
Therefore by winning two and drawing one of their three English Premier League games during October, whilst also reaching the quarter finals of the League cup, West Ham are amidst a spell of continuous improvement, which Slaven Bilic will aspire to mastermind a continuation of against Everton, whom the 48-year-old Croatian served as a player.
It is Ronald Koeman’s side whom West Ham are next due to play in the English Premier League, with the Hammers aim being to end the month of October unbeaten and move towards the top half of the league table, so that they can once challenge to qualify for European competition.
Although West Ham’s outlook for the season was bleak a month ago, it is now far brighter with their prospects of enjoying a strong campaign having greatly improved as a result of a excellent run of results.
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