West Ham’s new summer signings have now had a few games under their belts. Who has impressed you most so far and who has work to do to win you over?
Lucy Woolford: Javier Hernandez has impressed. His workrate has proved to be really good and he knows his skillset well enough that he can capitalise on what’s going on around him. Marko Arnautovic let us all down with his ridiculous red card and for that I’m expecting him to work extra hard in the coming months to make up for it.
Geoff Hillyer: I’ve enjoyed watching Pablo Zabeleta’s performances. He’s lost a little pace but you can see the experience that he adds to the side, and he’s also a trier, giving everything to the cause. Although he picks up yellow cards at a ridiculous rate so I expect him to miss a game through suspension soon.
Holly Worthington: I agree, Zabaleta has been the one for me. He’s got a lot of energy and closes people down a lot more than I’d expected. To be honest Chicharito hasn’t fulfilled my expectations yet but I’m putting it down to being played out of position and playing too deep.
Sam Hills: Arnautovic is certainly the one who needs to work to win me over. His attitude is questionable and his ego makes him a bit unlikable as far as I’m concerned.
Slaven Bilic admits it is a struggle to get Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez in the same side. How would you solve the issue?
LW: I can’t see how it’s so much of an issue. Hernandez wants to hang around the goal and Andy Carroll wants to pick the ball out the air and hold it up. They’re more than capable of working out between them how to make it work. Let Carroll hold up the ball and free up Hernandez to bang them in. Just like Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips did for Sunderland.
GH: The easy solution is to continue with the status quo, i.e. play Hernandez out of position, on the basis that unless we play five at the back, our defence is a joke. The difficult solution is to work on that defence so we can comfortably play four at the back, then play Hernandez and Carroll together up front. I’m not 100 per cent sure that Bilic is capable of working this one o
GH: The easy solution is to continue with the status quo, i.e. play Hernandez out of position, on the basis that unless we play five at the back, our defence is a joke. The difficult solution is to work on that defence so we can comfortably play four at the back, then play Hernandez and Carroll together up front. I’m not 100 per cent sure that Bilic is capable of working this one out to be honest.
HW: I’d be tempted to experiment with different formations but if you look at both Hernandez and Carroll’s history, Chicharito is the more prolific of them both, so for me we should make playing him the priority. Carroll would be missed but a bit of competition is always healthy.
SH: To play Hernandez on the wing, for me, is a sin. We have a top goal scorer on our hands and it’d be a complete waste to push him on the wing. I’d like to see us try a 4-4-2 with them two up top as a pair.
It looks as though Manuel Lanzini will miss most of October with his on-going knee injury. How big a loss is the Argentinian and how can the Irons make up for his missing creativity?
LW: He is a huge loss. He’s the player we should be building the team around. Having said that we can’t be too reliant. We’ve done ok without him before and we have the attacking talent to cover. That said, he’ll be pivotal for the second half of the season.
GH: It certainly is a huge loss. There is very little creativity in the centre of the park at the moment – lots of endeavour, but not that bit of quality that opens up defences. We’ve achieved a decent result against Huddersfield but I have yet to see flowing football, which Lanzini can be the architect of.
HW: It’s a massive loss. Watching us play, we are clearly missing someone who runs at players and creates so many opportunities. It’s time for other players to step up now. Arnautovic looked great against Bolton so I’m looking forward to seeing if he can fill the void left by Lanzini.
SH: I don’t feel we have a player to fill in for him while he is out. In his absence we’ve seen Hernandez dropping really deep to collect the ball which also affects his game. In the formations we are playing, an attacking midfielder is essential, however, we do not have someone who can do it like he does.
The Hammers have been drawn against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup and the winner will earn a place in the quarter finals. How much should we prioritise the competition this season?
LW: I’d suggest that the opponent has some kind of influence on my answer — West Ham should be well up for beating Spurs at Wembley. It won’t be easy but I hope we’ll give it a good go and gain some confidence. I always think the League Cup is important to go for as is any silverware, as long as it doesn’t come at a cost to the League campaign in terms of injuries or suspensions.
GH: I think we have a decent chance in this competition and I think we should go in every game to win. That said, I remember the last time we progressed in the League Cup – under Avram Grant – and we all know what ended up happening that season.
HW: For me, the league is always most important but a cup win would be massive for us. Beating Spurs and progressing in the cup would be an enormous confidence boost for both players and fans and could help when it comes to pulling power in January’s transfer window
SH: I really hope we give the cup a good go. At the end of the day football is about winning silverware, and I feel we will be safe in the league. So why not give the cups a good go? It would be great to see us finally win something and the excitement of a run could bring the club all together, especially with a win against Spurs at Wembley!
West Ham host Brighton and Hove Albion and have trips to Burnley and Crystal Palace this month. How many points do you expect to get?
LW: How long’s a piece of string? The predictions are getting harder! We should be looking at taking maximum points from those opponents but as it stands so far, who knows? I’d like five points, please.
GH: I honestly have no idea. I look at these fixtures and think it’s conceivable that we’ll win all three. But we could conceivably lose them too. I’ll go with six or seven points. The bare minimum is five. Palace would have been a banker last month, but I think their results will improve.
HW: If we want to finish in the top 10, these are all games we should be aiming to win. I’m going for three points from every game. It’s time to step it up and climb the table.
SH: In theory they are three winnable games but with two of them away from home I think three wins is a bit too much to ask for. I think realistically we should be aiming for at least six points against sides of this ability.