It would appear the West Ham injury curse is very much alive and kicking after our talismanic Frenchman Dimitri Payet was sidelined for three months.
In previous seasons this could have had a huge impact on our campaign but we aren’t a one-man team, far from it with the emergence of Manuel Lanzini. Having said that, Payet is still a huge loss for us. Since joining from Marseilles in June, he’s shone and was involved in eight West Ham goals in his 12 appearances, scoring five including match-winning goals against Newcastle and a vital equaliser against Sunderland.
As soon as Payet fell to the ground after James McCarthy’s lunge, you could feel the fear and worry inside the Boleyn Ground. There was an eerie hush around the ground before a typically defiant chant of the Frenchman’s popular song. It wouldn’t be at all naïve to say that Payet is West Ham’s equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo at Madrid and Leo Messi at Barcelona in terms of his importance to the squad, but it’s critical that we don’t dwell too much on his absence.
His layoff comes at the pivotal time of the season with such a busy festive period coming up but it will give players like Michail Antonio and Lanzini the chance to show their true capabilities. Bilic, however, may now need to look at a slight change of plan in terms of style of play with his main man sidelined.
With Payet pulling the strings, the team looked settled and you always could rely on him to create something from nothing. With him injured, the pressure now lands on the shoulders of the back-up players to star. Mauro Zarate, in particular, seems like the obvious option to come into the starting line-up.
I think the biggest blow to come from the draw against Everton was not only to lose Payet but to lose Enner Valencia as well. The Ecuadorian would have been the readymade replacement for Dimitri, he adds goals and pace to the Hammers side. But much like the West Ham way, the injury curse always bumps us back down to reality