West Ham United suffered a shock defeat to Romanian Liga side Astra Giurgiu in the second leg of the Europa League playoffs on Thursday night to be eliminated from the competition for the second season running.
The Londoners failed to score at the London Stadium, and haven’t looked at their attacking best this season without 2015/16 Hammer of the Year Dimitri Payet, currently recovering from a muscle problem.
Goals have unsurprisingly dried up
Dimitri Payet scored and created 21 goals in 29 Premier League starts for West Ham last season, and his absence has certainly hurt the London outfit. United have scored one or less goals in five of their six games this season, compared to the 23 goals netted in their last 10 Premier League games of 2015/16 when Payet was in the side.
West Ham have been without a playmaker who created 119 chances and made 67 success dribbles in the league last season, and Payet’s ability to pick any defence apart was sorely missed. Their goal tally has diminished while he’s been sidelined with injury, and matters haven’t been further helped with a lack of fit strikers to choose from.
West Ham scored 65 goals in their 38 Premier League games in 2015/16, ending the season with two or more goals in eight of their last 10 outings, but they have averaged just a goal a game in the division so far. Payet was the side’s joint-top scorer, and no other player has yet to step up to the plate to take the scoring burden.
Slaven Bilic forced into tactical alterations
With Andy Carroll injured, Diafra Sakho exiled from the first-team and Enner Valencia more of a wide forward due to his lack of strength, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has been forced into changing up the team to place more emphasis on creating multiple chances to ripple the back of the net.
Michail Antonio has been utilised higher up the pitch due to his excessive pace and power, as well as a knack for goalscoring, and the sooner they can welcome back their ailing attackers the better. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, with West Ham sitting comfortable in the league table with three points from their two games, but their manager will certainly lose sleep over trying to get deals done to bolster the strikeforce.
The Hammers have been linked with many players, but it’s Payet that has proven to be the key from his outstanding debut season. West Ham United are 4/7 to finish in the top-10 of the Premier League this season, but will any success lie on Dimitri Payet’s shoulders?