A rag-bag of results has meant we are languishing somewhat precariously above the zone of terror. Injuries and suspensions haven’t helped but a distinct lack of goals has been the main offender. The diamond in the rough for the month of November was a vital win over fellow strugglers Fulham; a victory which has kept us marginally more comfortable in our league position and protected Big Sam’s job.
The saving grace for us has been the fact that we have managed to keep so many clean sheets (eight in total matched only by Everton). This would be all the more enjoyable, however, had we managed to score a few more. Even if we had threatened a little bit more in front of goal would be of some consolation. That aside – and there really is no point in reiterating the obvious – I think it is clear that we have the potential to make a push towards the better end of the table.
After all, we have coped far better than most against the likes of Manchester City etal this season and have shown signs of taking advantage of momentary weaknesses in our opponents. A stalemate against Sunderland wasn’t a disaster as such, but a game we certainly could have done with winning.
It was, of course, to be expected from two sides reluctant to take gambles going forward, and with our side crippled by injuries and suspensions it was just nice not to have relinquished maximum points to a club that is currently propping us up.
Our game against titlechasers Arsenal will hopefully mark a turning point for us. They are on the back of a mauling by Man City and a never-easy contest with tailchasers Chelsea. All factors which could go in our favor. One of the questions will be then be whether we can close the door on relatively freescoring and quick-passing table toppers? The other will be whether we can actually squeeze past their shellshocked back four.
With Andy Carroll still not fit at time of writing, we will be solely reliant on firepower from elsewhere in the squad. It also means that we’ll need to be on top of our game at the back and through the middle. Returning players will hopefully bolster the chances of that, particularly with Downing, Morrison and Nolan hopefully due back in the squad. It’s such a familiar and frustrating state of affairs when our treatment room is busier than Lakeside Shopping Center on December 24th, but it’s one we need to deal with all the same
Co-chairman David Sullivan has once again come out and barked his support of Allardyce, which I think was the right thing to do. His usual irritating statements of “regret” and altogether unnecessary damnation of the £15m the club shelled out for the crocked Carroll were not, however. We all know how important the Christmas period is to teams at the wrong end of the table and we have clearly not been given the most favorable run of fixtures with a resurgent United in the mix.
We have also not done ourselves any favours, ironically, by getting so far in the League Cup. In conclusion, we must keep the faith. Criticism and naysaying is thoroughly counter-productive for the cause, no matter how much we all want to. It is a difficult league to stay in and this season has spewed up a few surprises already.
It’s all about the long game for West Ham and with 20 games left of the season, it is far from over. A returning Carroll in 2014 will give us the boost we need, as well as a couple of January loan signings. It’s clear that we have defensive quality in droves – we just need the career-peak forward to poke away some Jarvis/Downing crosses.