What a difference a week makes, following West Ham has its ups and downs and the last 7 days have seen both extremes.
The capitulation against Brighton was one of the most insipid performances I have seen a West Ham side produce in my time supporting the club. West Ham lacked leadership, motivation and seemed devoid of any plan, these failings were only highlighted by Brighton who were fantastically organised, stuck rigidly to their game plan and deservedly came away with a brilliant win. It wasn’t just the defeat that rang alarm bells, it was the manner of it, certain players looked so off the pace and way out of form. The mistakes were too many to name but in my view, only Zabaleta emerged with any credit despite giving away a penalty for Brighton’s 3rd goal.
Slaven Bilic came under huge scrutiny after the game, as usual, the interaction with the board was played out over all media outlets and it was decided that the Croatian had two games to save his job, anyone who tuned in to see Spurs demolish Liverpool on Super Sunday would have started clearing the desk early doors. At half time on Wednesday night West Ham were looking down the barrel, a 6-0 hiding seemed a real possibility but somehow they pulled it back showing fight and a determination to play with pride for the club and its supporters, amazingly 15 glorious minutes at Wembley washed away Friday’s hangover, 3-2 in our cup final, fantastic. So now onto Saturday’s hugely important clash with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace have some real pace in their side with Zaha and Townsend and they beat champions Chelsea in their last home game. In midfield they have Cabaye, a French international with real talent and at the back they have Sahko and Dann, a bruising duo to say the least. Palace, much like West Ham, have some real talent at their disposal but have underperformed so far this season.
For West Ham, Wembley showed what the team is capable of. Belief and togetherness are intangibles that are only obvious when they are absent as they were against Brighton, if West Ham are as insipid as they were against Brighton they will be comfortably beaten, they must show courage both physically and by imposing their game on the opposition with the likes of Lanzini and Antonio. Ayew has to start after his heroics and I would keep Hernandez as a starter despite his rather stroppy demeanour. Hernandez like Carroll has specific strengths that dictate how the team plays, I think his pace and movement against the robust Dann and Sahko could be key, Noble showed how important an influence he is on the team this week and has to lead the side, and despite last week’s horror show I would keep the back 5 the same. Arnautovic is not so lucky, he was dreadful against Brighton and is yet to show anything of his talent in a claret and blue shirt. Another big game for the club but hopefully Wednesday’s positivity will continue to work its magic.