Having lost their first four league games, West Ham are now on a four match unbeaten run. This is impressive in itself, but factor in that two of those results came during visits from Chelsea and Manchester United and it becomes an even more notable achievement. More importantly though, this run has given the Hammers some much needed stability following that turbulent start to the campaign.
There had been worries after those early season defeats that the Hammers could be going into Friday night’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion with no points. However, following wins against Everton and Manchester United as well as the draw against Chelsea, they go into the fixture with seven points and have climbed to 14th in the league- one place above their upcoming opponents.
Improvements have been visible all over the pitch as new signings begin to settle into the club. Andriy Yarmolenko has grown into an integral figure in the side having not started any of the first four league matches, while Felipe Anderson has truly kicked on, scoring his first goal for the club on the weekend. Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena have built a trustworthy partnership at centre back. Lukasz Fabianski has been a consistent performer for the club from the start, even when those around him haven’t been. While Lucas Perez and Ryan Fredericks both opened their accounts for the club in the Carabao Cup after their early struggles. Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez have both picked up injuries, but all the other signings look as though they will have a part to play in the coming weeks.
All of this has helped to ease the pressure which had begun to build on Manuel Pellegrini. There had been questions over the Chilean’s tactics and recruitment after the stalling start to his first season in the West Ham hot seat. However, an inspired tactical change has ended that talk. Since he moved to the three-man midfield –usually fielding Declan Rice, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang- the Hammers have been much more balanced, with the trio quickly becoming the base for the team’s upturn in form.
If there is one thing this whole episode has shown, it’s that people shouldn’t get too carried away in either a positive or negative sense. Losing four games at the beginning of the season doesn’t mean you’ll go down; equally, going undefeated in the next four in all competitions doesn’t mean you’ll be conquering Europe next season. One thing that West Ham have lacked since moving to the London Stadium is consistency and any real sense of normality. There have been numerous protests, a failed attempt at a European run, relegation battles and everything in between in the short time the club have spent there.
It is great to see the focus returning to what is happening on the pitch rather than having attention turning towards the stands. This run should act as the launch pad for the club to excel this season. There has been investment in talented players, managerial staff and people working behind the scenes, so it is brilliant to see this taking its effect. Tonight’s encounter at the Amex is a brilliant opportunity to keep the positive run going.
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