It’s now time to analyze yesterday’s pivotal victory over Huddersfield Town in far greater detail, as we go over the Main Talking Points from a drizzly but magical night at The London Stadium.
Home Comforts The Winning Formula For Hammers
It was good to finally be back home, wasn’t it Hammers? Even if The London Stadium is shrouded in controversy at the moment, playing in front of our own fans was something that we utilized perfectly to our advantage against The Terriers.
In fact, over 50,000 fans rooting for our Claret & Blue idols may be just the kick-starter that was needed this season to abolish performances like the one at St James’ Park where traveling fans are situated in the heavens.
Contrary to the toxic and rebellious atmosphere that was expected in E20 for the tie, there was a great sense of support and cohesion felt inside the stadium at times.
The mood also reflected onto the pitch with a great team performance and the three points that were necessary achieved, with the demons of our first three league games laid to rest.
Many fans are now suggesting that, while our away form looks to be atrocious at the moment, we have all the ingredients to make The London Stadium a fortress this season.
Although the World Athletics Championship has tarnished our start to the season and the arena’s reputation as a football ground, the energy and atmosphere of May’s derby defeat of Tottenham has seemed to have been carried over to this season.
Rest assured that the place will be buzzing when Spurs come back to town on Saturday week, as more and more fans start to embrace the stadium as our true new home.
Bizarre Bilic Tactics Prevalent In Spite Of Victory
Despite birthday boy Slaven Bilic finally delivering us a win yesterday evening, the encounter still wasn’t without its fair dosage of strange tactics from the Croat, that could have cost us the game.
Although Bilic’s defensive plan did seem to work effectively in the driving Stratford rain, it was his attacking plans that drew the most raised eyebrows.
The offensive was spearheaded by the trio of Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez, but Carroll was positioned mostly wide during the game, as was Chicharito, with Antonio through the middle.
The formation categorizes Bilic’s policy of playing players out of position and would have surely worked better with Carroll as a middle target man.
However, to give credit to “Super Slav”, fans booed as Chicharito was unjustly sacrificed in the 64th minute for Andre Ayew.
The move may have seemed perplexing, but Ayew would go onto grab a goal and an assist to win us the game, with Hernandez still suffering from fatigue from his long-haul journey from The Americas.
So, with another game of outwardly strange tactical decisions from the former Besiktas boss passing, will he see the sense against Tony Pulis’ men on Saturday? Or will his outlandish tactics finally merge into a recipe for three points?
Bemused Fans Fume Over Rice Exile
Arguably our Player of the Season so far, Declan Rice, was dropped by Bilic ahead of yesterday’s encounter, much to the disgust of most Hammers.
The starlet earned rave reviews in our first four games in all competitions and is even a full Republic of Ireland International at the age of just 18.
However, the starlet came unstuck at St James’ Park with a goal-costing mistake, subsequently being hauled off by Bilic then and not included in the starting Xl yesterday.
Meanwhile, Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang didn’t turn too many heads with their performances against Huddersfield, with Rice left to watch on from the bench to the anger of many fans.
Many will now be hoping that the former Chelsea man will not suffer the same confidence loss and place around the squad, that Reece Oxford did before him.
Carroll Returns Without A Hitch, For The Time Being
The return of Andy Carroll from the last episode in his injury saga is usually a Heart in mouth moment for any Hammer, with last night’s return a successful one.
The No9 was mobile and energetic with his usual brand of busy football, chasing loose balls and sprinting to engage in and mostly winning aerial duels.
Despite drifting wide for most of the game in Stratford, Carroll still had plenty of footwork to showcase, with a number of superb balls being delivered into the box.
“AC” also managed to knock out 82 minutes in his comeback fixture, showing no signs of injury or fatigue on his way off and acknowledging the applauding crowd after his outstanding efforts.
Many members of The Claret & Blue Army have now been left questioning whether this could actually be the year, the season where Carroll finally lives up to his 20 goals per campaign billing. But more importantly, the season where he stays fully fit, The London Stadium faithful can only hope.
So, with all the pressing issues from E20 discussed, we can now look forward to a few day’s break from the trials and tribulations of following our beloved Hammers. Until we do it all over again next weekend.