It’s now time to delve deep into the primary causes of discussion from yesterday’s disappointing London Stadium defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, as we fell into The Relegation Zone for the first time since the start of the campaign.
Reds Defeat Leaves Bilic On The Brink
If there was a time that Croatian Boss Slaven Bilic has been under more pressure during his spell in East London, many Hammers are unaware of it altogether as Bilic comes under fire from left, right and centre in the wake of Saturday’s loss.
Rumours of his sacking started several weeks ago, and it will be a surprise to very few if he manages to keep his Job throughout The International Break, but why was the Liverpool loss so definitive?
Having reportedly been the given the Carabao Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur and the away Premier League affair at Selhurst Park to save himself.
He appeared to do well, winning and progressing at Wembley and drawing against Crystal Palace, but as he admitted himself when speaking to The Press last Thursday, the manner of the draw in South London was a real blow.
Heading into Matchday Eleven, Bilic also lost the likes of Michail Antonio, Jose Fonte and Sam Byram to injury, whilst Pablo Zabaleta was suspended, leaving the Croat was something of a defensive crisis against one of the best attacks in Europe.
There could only be one result and unfortunately for our Manager of two years and six months, the end could very well be nigh.
Unfortunately, one only had to listen to the disgruntlement of The London Stadium faithful as he made what were perceived to be his last Claret & Blue substitutions to gauge how the majority of fans are currently feeling about him.
But, after months of endless speculation, has Saturday’s 1-4 thrashing at the hands of Klopp’s Liverpool proved to be the final nail in the Coffin for Slaven Bilic?
As of Monday, it has.
Pundits Question Hammers’ Fight In Vital Clash
One of the main criticisms from fans, Pundits and so-called “Footballing Experts” on Saturday night was the lack of grit, guts, and determination that was shown by the team in Claret & Blue.
Take, for instance, the visitors’ first goal on 22 minutes, as Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino pulled away on the break from our corner, they met little opposition along the way.
This is because there appears to be “busting a gut” as many a Hammer would put it, to get back and try to prevent Mane from finding Salah and slotting past an out of sorts Joe Hart.
But, that wasn’t the first time in the affair that Liverpool players were able to come forward with little apprehension as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was left free to have a second effort at Hart and score just seconds after we had pulled a goal back.
And Salah was left with the whole of The London Stadium on the left to strike home a low volley after he was picked out by his African compatriot, albeit these errors were made by a makeshift defence, as mentioned earlier with Edimilson Fernandes and Cheikhou Kouyate filling in, although the latter has been for a few weeks now.
If all of that want conclusive enough, the stats don’t cover Bilic’s starting Xl in glory either, not only did the away side win 45% more of their total tackles in Stratford.
They also committed to more headed clearances, made more clearances in general, blocked more crosses and intercepted more passes in a game where they had almost three times as many efforts.
Regardless of who is in charge for the visit to Vicarage Road after The International Break, the players must show more fight in a must-win encounter, as Bilic is surely not the only accountable character.
London Stadium Misery Continues Against The “Big Six”
One noticeable outcome of the regrettable loss was the continuation of a dismal home record at The London Stadium against The League’s “top six” sides, one that makes for abysmal viewing.
One can call to memory such home ties as the 0-5 and 0-4 defeats to Manchester City last season or the 1-5 Arsenal thrashing, not to mention what that very Liverpool side did to us in May, to touch on just a few embarrassing encounters in Stratford.
But, this is very much a new problem, even to Bilic and his Coaching Staff, as in the final season at Upton Park the only away teams that took home all three points were Leicester City, AFC Bournemouth, and Swansea City, albeit one of those teams did go on to lift the Crown despite not being a regular at that end of The Premier League Table.
Stats come into the argument yet again, quite harrowing ones such as the fact that we have lost two more games than we have won at our new home and have conceded the second most home League goals in that time in The League.
The Reds have now scored eight goals in their last two trips, which is the same tally that we have managed in our last nine games combined on home turf, however, is it just that the better teams can exploit wide open spaces better?
Or is it that the panic button is pressed as soon as a Hammers team concedes, or the hostility of The London Stadium as a whole? This remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, home form is something that needs to be improved quickly.
Lanzini Strike The Only Positive On A Night To Forget In Stratford
There is no doubt that one of the very few positives to take from the affair was the lifeline given to us early in the second period by a wonderfully skillful goal from Manuel Lanzini.
The Argentine, receiving an impressive pass from Andre Ayew, chested the ball down and proceeded to so delicately touch it into the far corner and past Simon Mignolet.
The strike gave us very short-lived hope of a revival after a more positive start to the second-half, it was also Lanzini’s first of the season, incredibly.
Earlier in the game, we had also created with Lanzini setting up Ayew, although the Ghanaian could only hit the post and the away side would soon turn the tie on its head, putting a game that we were on top of out of our reach in a few first-half minutes.
So, now that everything there was to pick at after our sixth defeat of the campaign to date has been covered, will there be more positive discussions after Sunday week’s away clash with The Hornets? Or will Bilic’s Boys be plunged deeper into trouble?