Saturday, November 28, 2020

What has been behind West Ham’s resurge?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 25 Oct 2020

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Opening up the 2020/2021 campaign with a sluggish 2-0 defeat at home against Newcastle last month and with a string of issues off the pitch, many had tipped West Ham to find themselves at the midst of another relegation scrap this season.

However, managing to collect what was a well-earned point against former champions Manchester City at the London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, the Hammers suddenly find the mood in their camp at a real high and some around the East end feel a resurge is on the cards.

Unbeaten in their last four Premier League appearances on the spin, a run that has seen them face off against the likes of City, Tottenham, Leicester and Wolves, what has been behind West Ham’s change in fortune?

Switching to five at the back

While a host of injury issues might have somewhat forced David Moyes into a change of formation, the Hammers made the decision to switch to five at the back against Arsenal last month and they haven’t looked back since.

While the former Manchester United boss might have seen his side slump to a late 2-1 defeat at the Emirates, West Ham appear to have finally found a settled formation that best utilises what Moyes at his disposal.

Finding some much-needed defensive resolve that has haunted them over Moyes’ two reigns in the London Stadium dugout, the likes of Aaron Creswell and former fringe player Arthur Masuaku have really flourished in their new roles on the left-hand side of the Hammers’ defence.

A high-flying Antonio

While Moyes’ decision to switch to five at the back might have helped West Ham find some defensive stability, it has been their recent showings in the final third that have really put the Premier League on notice.

Including the stunning comeback against Spurs earlier in the month that saw them come from 3-0 down in the dying embers across the capital, they have bagged 11 goals on their four-match unbeaten run and Moyes really has one man to thank for that tally.

Once again finding the net against Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime with a sublime overhead kick, Michail Antonio has now recorded 12 goals in his 14 top-flight appearances since returning from football’s enforced break over the summer.

Showing his versatility during his tenure with the Hammers, Moyes has done almost an identical job with Antonio as he done with former talisman Marko Arnautović during his first spell in East London two years ago.

New arrivals hit the ground running

Although the departure of former homegrown starlet Grady Diangana to West Brom over the summer may have rightfully upset many West Ham fans across the county, the new arrivals that Moyes has brought through the door have really made an immediate impact.

Watching Vladimir Coufal sign up on a three-year-deal for just £5million, the right-back has already gained plenty of plaudits from his new boss and pundits up and down the Premier League.

Really cementing his spot as Moyes’ number one choice and playing a crucial role in their recent defensive resurge, Coufal isn’t the only Czech star who has become a fan favourite at the London Stadium.

Since making the move to East London back in January, along with Jarrod Bowen who already has three top-flight goals to his name this season, Tomáš Souček has quickly become one of West Ham’s standout performers.

There is no doubt that Moyes and Hammers fans will be desperate for £25million arrival Said Benrahma to have a similar impact after making the move from Championship outfit Brentford.

Keeping hold of Rice

While many were rightfully excited to see Benrahma secure his dramatic deadline day move earlier in the month, there is no doubt that West Ham fans will universally agree that keeping hold of Declan Rice was their most important piece of business over the summer.

Although it was no secret that Chelsea were desperate to add the 21-year-old to their ranks after their summer spending spree, Rice remained in East London and has undoubtedly only further cemented his spot as the Hammers’ MVP.

Now a fully-fledged England international and clearly Gareth Southgate’s number one choice as a holding midfielder, Rice’s stunning rise under Moyes has seen him rewarded with West Ham’s captain’s armband after watching club icon Mark Noble drop down to the bench.

Desperate to build something special around their new skipper, The Daily Mail are also reporting that West Ham are set to offer Rice a bumper new deal worth £120,000-per-week.


Tom Dunstan

Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan



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