West Ham are riding high in seventh but they can’t expect to be there at Christmas
Hold your horses, Hammers. Let’s not get carried away, here.
However, before we get realistic, there are a few points to mention following last night’s 2-1 victory over QPR at Loftus Road: The return of Andy Carroll, who continues to look dangerous at the point of attack; West Ham’s first away win this season; and a new record (albeit one not to be proud of) – being the first team in Premier League history to receive eight yellow cards in a single match.
Despite my reservations in attack – how does Ricardo Vaz Te get a game with Yossi Benayoun vying for a place? –West Ham’s ball retention and testing of Julio Cesar, especially in the first half, really impressed me last night.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was just as pleased: “I think the outstanding qualities we showed today both in our ability to take the game to the opposition away from home and our ability to score goals was fantastic to see.
“As the underdogs, having just been promoted, to come to QPR and take the game to them and dominate that first half was great for me to see.
“If I had to say anything, I was a little bit disappointed we didn’t get more than two.”
Sitting in seventh, any newly-promoted side should be more than satisfied. But let’s not count our chickens yet; West Ham are almost certainly not going on a European tour.
Despite sitting above Arsenal in the league table, the Hammers are not overachieving. I don’t think the team have excelled in any particular area and, despite a promising opening 45 minutes yesterday and an above average midfield, we still fail to dominate possession in the middle of the pitch.
This doesn’t mean to say, however, that West Ham were expected to be seventh in the league at any point in the season; we’ve just had a fortunate opening six games.
My first thought when I saw West Ham’s fixtures at the beginning of the season consisted of expectations of a positive start and an interesting six weeks in the approach to Christmas. After a fine start, I fear the honeymoon period is over.
With the opening six fixtures consisting of Aston Villa, Swansea, Fulham, Norwich, Sunderland, Wigan and QPR at least 8 points were to be expected, so eleven – with a positive goal difference – is perfect. However, with Arsenal, Manchester City, Newcastle, Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all in the next six weeks, us Hammers can expect a turbulent winter.
We could easily exchange places with Southampton, whose sorry Premier League campaign until now has left them in 17th – outside of the relegation zone on goal difference alone. West Ham could easily have been in the same position if the early fixture gods hadn’t been so kind.
How many points would you expect West Ham to have accumulated from the opening six matches of Manchester City, Wigan, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Everton that Saints faced? Anyone who can claim over five is, probably, deluded.
So moving forward, how can the Upton Park natives expect to deal with the imminent storm of world class players?
Fan blogs have suggested that should the current vein of form continue, then Allardyce should pay the agreed £17m fee for Carroll in January as opposed to waiting until the summer as agreed. An interesting trail of thought, but what has Carroll produced? The Geordie is yet to play a full 90 minutes for West Ham, and games have never been won by strikers who are just looking dangerous.
Questions have been asked about the Hammers’ defence, particularly of goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskalainen who kept the boo-boys firmly in their seats with a string of world class saves last night, but how will they fare against the likes of Robin Van Persie and Sergio Aguero in the coming months?
Come Christmas, West Ham fans are likely to see their side considerably lower down. We haven’t set the world on fire in terms of style or execution and we certainly shouldn’t be renewing our passports in anticipation.Tagged in: Andy Carroll, Premier League, QPR, West Ham
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