Could West Ham have finished in a Europa League place without long term injuries?

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West Ham have been safe for a long time, that is the positive news the bad news is that it doesn’t feel like the club have moved on and gone onto the next level. They are set to finish the season in 11th place, though if they can beat Watford away in their last game of the season they would squeeze into the top 10 and finish the season with 52 points. Last season the Hammers finished on 42 points so there has been a significant improvement.

However with the quality that the team possess and a world class stadium to go with it and a successful manager in Manuel Pellegrini perhaps we were expecting more. But the one noticeable problem for the club has been the amount of injuries that they have had to endure. And we are not talking about players missing one of two games or even a few weeks, but chunks of the season which must have greatly affected the team.

Jack Wilshire has only just returned from an injury that he picked up in September and Andy Carroll keeps coming back in fits and bursts but has hardly played this season. But even before the season started there were problems. Manuel Lanzini got injured for Argentina in last summers World Cup- his return date, last month. The case of the highly rated Andriy Yarmolenko is another head scratcher. Injured early on his West Ham career, he wasn’t expected back until March, now he won’t take any part in the season, Winston Reid has been another casualty of the season.

The clubs training facilities at Chadwell Heath have been cited as a problem in recent years but they have another two training grounds and the first team rarely train there although it has been known. Then there is the medical staff- are they up to the job? The probability is that they are indeed and that the clubs injury list is simply down to being unlucky. But then again why does it seem that the Hammers keep missing key players that can make all the difference for long periods of time?

Certainly deciding to bring in Wilshire and Carroll made no sense in the light that these were two injury prone players well before they came to West Ham- to end up with one was a surprise, but both seems odd. Of course on their day and when fit they can be a danger for any opposition team but they simply do not get enough games to play.

One can only wonder if West Ham with their best 11 playing regularly could have challenged for more this season? Perhaps at least 7th and a final Europa League spot in England and a deep run in a cup competition would have been welcome for a side who haven’t won a major trophy since 1980.

Every club gets injuries it is part and parcel of the game, but West Ham need to address why their injuries are taking a season and not a few weeks to mend, otherwise the club no matter who they bring in will be able to go forward.

 

West Ham must manage injuries over festive period

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Like many other Premier League teams, West Ham have an incredibly important period coming up in December, as they prepare to play seven matches in the space of a month. Each of those is seen as realistically winnable, as the Hammers will face: Newcastle United, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Watford, Southampton and Burnley. However, at a time that is notorious for causing injury, it is vital that Manuel Pellegrini manages the squad well.

The Chilean is already without Andriy Yarmolenko, Ryan Fredericks, Manuel Lanzini and Carlos Sanchez among others. He’ll be boosted by the imminent returns of Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere, though they will both need to have their game time managed in order to avoid a return to the treatment table.

Among these two, others who should have an eye kept on them are Marko Arnautovic and Pablo Zabaleta. The Hammers’ leading scorer this season has had trouble with his knee in recent weeks, if that were to be aggravated to the point where he can’t play then the Hammers will be without their main threat, with the impact on the team being heightened due to how quickly the fixtures come along.

In the case of Zabaleta, Pellegrini has already claimed that he will be looking to rotate the Argentine, saying that at 33-years-old he shouldn’t be playing that number of games in such a short space of time. With his usual replacement Fredericks suspected to be out until after the New Year, Pellegrini will have to find a suitable replacement for when Zabaleta is rested. Michail Antonio was used at right back by Slaven Bilic which didn’t go down well, so he may not be used. Another option could be Reece Oxford – seemingly down to his last chance to impress in a West Ham shirt- who played at right back multiple times while on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach last season.

There have been times already where a youngster has come in due to injury and ended up impressing enough to keep their place. Declan Rice and Grady Diangana are the two main examples, as they’re currently regular features in the starting line up. This could encourage Pellegrini to use the likes of Oxford, Nathan Holland, Marcus Browne and Joe Powell at certain points during the festive period in order to keep his older and more experienced players injury free.

The manager will of course need to find a balance between keeping players match fit and fielding a strong side. As he has already stated, it is far from guaranteed that the Hammers will win a plethora of games just because they’re avoiding the biggest teams in the league. However, it is important that they do pick up points, as despite being 14th in the table, they currently sit just four points outside the relegation zone. This is arguably the most vital period of Pellegrini’s tenure at West Ham to date, it is also likely to be the most difficult to manage. West Ham’s manager has struggled at times since moving to East London, though it’s imperative that he and his team get things right in December, as if they don’t they could be in trouble.

 

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Can Andy Carroll still do a job for England?

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West Ham fans have been through the wringer a few times this season, and they’ll always give a completely honest and unbiased assessment of their team and club if asked.

To a man, they all still rate Andy Carroll, and so do the club.

Injuries have played a huge part in his lack of game time this season, and theoretically he needs to have a full pre-season to get back to somewhere approaching his best form.

But there’s no denying that he offers something that no other England striker does.

His presence and physicality allow him to dominate most opponents, particularly aerially, and as he’s shown on a few occasions, he still knows where the goal is.

To this point, he’s not really been in the England conversation, but he has to be given due consideration.

Harry Kane is in a league of his own, so there’s no suggestion he’s a replacement. Far from it in fact.

Ditto the other front men that may be under Gareth Southgate’s microscope. The candidacies of Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Jermain Defoe et al can’t be ignored.

And yet, they all offer much the same in terms of attacking threat. Reasonable pace and an eye for goal.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but when a game is getting away from you and something different is needed, having a powerful ‘old school’ No.9 at your disposal as an alternative could tip the scales.

Three goals in his seven appearances is a ratio that affords him the courtesy of having Southgate or one of his staff at least ‘take a look.’

Even if he were to be an impact sub, there’s enough about his natural game, if he stays fit, to give him a spot in the squad.

Remember, Theo Walcott was taken to a World Cup and then not played. Even if Carroll only had 10 minutes at the end of each match, he could be the game changer.

Kane will often be ploughing a lone furrow and has the nous and the form to be England’s talisman, but why not go route one occasionally? Get the midfield pushing up and ready for the inevitable knock downs.

It won’t be pretty and almost certainly won’t curry favour with those who prefer a more beautiful game.

But let’s be clear. Given the choice of aesthetically pleasing football or a style – when needed – that brings results, surely the most pragmatic style is the right choice?

England don’t have to be ‘pretty’ nor ‘inventive’ to win the fans over.

If back to basics works, even occasionally, England are cutting their nose off to spite their face if they don’t take advantage.

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Chelsea’s Reported Interest in Peter Crouch and Andy Carroll Divides Opinion

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The new age of austerity at Chelsea has seen the London giants being linked with a host of names to take up the mantle of striker at the club, and while there are some logical suggestions one or two have seem to come out of nowhere.

For example, Roma forward Edin Dzeko has been mooted for an imminent arrival at Stamford Bridge, and indeed that would appear to be one of the names that makes perfect sense. He is a player with big club experience, as well as tenure in the Premier League having previously played for Man City. The deal looks set to go through very soon. Continue reading

Is it time for Andy Carroll and West Ham to part ways after latest injury?

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The news that Andy Carroll has injured his knee and could be out for at least four weeks will be no surprise to West Ham United fans.

The 27 year old has endured a succession of injuries during his time in London and one can only wonder what type of effect this will have on Carroll’s longevity as a professional football player.

Carroll joined the Hammers in 2012 and has roughly since then played just two seasons. Not counting the beginning of this season from a possible 152 games he has participated in 80.

To their credit West Ham have never spoken out about the players constant injuries and have always backed him, and so they should do. Carroll arguably had his best season with the club last term and he netted 9 league goals his best return in five years.

Carroll’s lack of goals is a different matter and a different story to be told elsewhere but it’s the fact right now that the player simply isn’t able to play to nearly a full season which is more of a worry.

Time and again the player has missed crucial matches and it can’t be ignored that he is on a reported £100,000 a week salary. He will earn then during his lay off almost half a million pounds. Of course it’s quite ridiculous to criticise Carroll for this but can his club not be?

West Ham paid their fee for a player and it is quite clear that Carroll has huge physical problems leading to sustained injuries. Has the club ever investigated why Carroll keeps getting injured? Is it not time to part with a player who is arguably holding up another place for a squad member?

This isn’t to say of course that Carroll should be simply tossed aside- he is on his day a quality player, but the Hammers do not want to be hampered in their quest of chasing a good finish and doing their best in the Europa League. In short they need a fixed team of players that get plenty of time playing with each other.

Carroll appeared to send a tongue in cheek tweet earlier that suggested he is still a 15-20 goal man- however he hasn’t achieved this feat ever in the Premier League and we would have to go back to his Championship days in 2010 for evidence of him scoring as many.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is optimistic on Carroll’s latest setback, claiming that the striker could be back sooner than planned. But when will Carroll’s next injury surface?