As I write this piece, I’m still glowing in the euphoria of the fantastic 3-0 win at Spurs – as I’m sure all West Ham fans are! What a day — totally unexpected, if we’re honest, but it makes me feel much more positive about our season than would have been the case had we lost. So, ahead of the match against Manchester City, how do we stand? Well, on the face of it, it’s still not a fantastic start.
Eight points from seven games with, let’s face it, not the worst run of fixtures represents a pretty average return. The defeat to Hull, whilst we played OK and had chances, was absolutely the kind of game that we should be getting something from if we want to keep our heads above water. At the rate of points that we are accumulating, we’ll get about 43 — which is marginally above the relegation zone but a bit too close for comfort.
It was very interesting that Big Sam changed the formation against Tottenham. Much has been made of the strikerless system which worked so effectively but the simple truth of the matter is that Modibo Maiga has not cut the mustard up front and we lack decent options in Andy Carroll’s absence. I know that Ravel Morrison has been a revelation — but as much as I love Ricardo Vaz Te, he is not a player who is going to score bucket-loads of goals.
Certainly, in order to get any kind of result, the team performance will need to raise again against Manchester City. Sam might be tempted to be slightly more attacking in his formation this time around but defensively we’ll need to be very tight, given that City have scored more than any other team in the Premier League so far
If we can frustrate them for long periods, then we do have a chance at getting something out of it, but if they score early, it could be a long afternoon. Looking ahead, after this weekend’s match it’s an away trip to Swansea. Last year, I oozed confidence ahead of this game and we promptly got spanked 3-0. I do think that we will be more competitive this time around, but again it’s about being tight and defensively solid. Do that and with Morrison in the side, in his current form, you always have a chance. I thought at the start of the season that we would be OK — and I still think that, because when fully fit, we’re not a bad side — but the next two or three matches will probably determine the course of our season. Not losing will be key — the last thing we want with a quarter of the season gone is to be sat in the bottom three .
So, let’s look at this positively. After Manchester City and Swansea, we have winnable matches against Burnley in the League Cup, and Aston Villa in the league. If we do OK in the next two matches, there’s a great opportunity for a springboard to a decent season.