Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How have West Ham found themselves in the midst of a December nightmare?

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While West Ham might have once again opened the 2021/22 campaign enjoying another purple patch, it appears that the Hammers have really come crashing back down to earth over the recent weeks.

Putting in yet another woeful display at home against relegation outsiders Southampton on Boxing Day, the east London outfit have managed to win just one of their previous seven Premier League outings.

With their dreams of making a Champions League debut taking another dent on Sunday, West Ham now has the feel of a side desperately seeking some kind of boost.

From injury issues to a string of defensive disasters at the back, has the Hammers’ bubble really started to burst?

A defensive unit riddled with mistakes

Bringing French international Kurt Zouma across to east London over the summer, there is no doubt that West Ham’s big-money arrival made an immediate impact after moving from Chelsea.

Forming a stellar partnership with Angelo Ogbonna, the Hammers were left devastated by the news last month that both of their defensive stars had sustained long-term injury issues.

With Ogbonna ruled out for the remainder of the season and Zouma not expected to make his return for at least another four weeks, Moyes’ men have only seen their defensive issues worsen over the past fortnight.

Still unable to call upon influential left-back Aaron Cresswell who remains on the sidelines with a lower back injury, West Ham’s deputies have really failed to step up.

With both Issa Diop and Arthur Mausuaku continuing to be a defensive liability, the partnership of Craig Dawson and Diop has also played a key role in the Hammers’ December nightmare.

Shipping at least a pair of goals in each of their last three outings, Moyes’ men have also landed just a single clean sheet since Ogbonna’s ACL injury against Liverpool last month.

Attacking instability

Although West Ham might have at least bagged themselves a brace in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at home against Southampton, it does not cover what has been an inconsistent spell in the final third.

With Moyes announcing his displeasure at his side’s clinical edge over the past weeks, the Hammers will be more than aware how important it is to get Michail Antonio back firing on all cylinders.

Coming under real scrutiny from West Ham fans during their December blip, the one-time Nottingham Forest man did end his own extended drought on Boxing Day as he recorded his first Premier League strike since October.

Struggling to match a similar level that saw him open the 2021/22 campaign with a stunning flurry, the likes of summer arrival Nikola Vlašić have also failed to make any kind of impact at the London Stadium.

Although Moyes’ men might still be getting themselves into decent attacking positions, they must find a more ruthless streak if they’re to kickstart their Champions League ambitions.

January can’t come soon enough

Opting to make the decision not to bring in a second striker to compete with Antonio over the summer, West Ham fans from across the county will know just how important the January transfer window is.

Bringing Jesse Lingard to east London almost 12 months ago in what turned out to be a blockbuster loan switch, Moyes should be seeking a similar impact over the coming weeks.

A squad that appears to be struggling with a stacked schedule, the Hammers will be desperate to bring in reinforcements all over the pitch.

With Obgonna ruled out for the remainder of the campaign and no return date given for Cresswell’s return, it has been widely reported over the fortnight that new defensive arrivals are at the top of Moyes’ wishlist.

With continued links to both James Tarkowski and Nathaniel Phillips, the former Manchester United boss will also know how crucial it is to bring in another out and out number nine.

Watching Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský take a minority share in the club last month, fans around in east London will be calling on their new investor to immediately back a depleted squad in January.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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