Let’s begin by running through the stats from yesterday afternoons 3-2 defeat down on the South Coast at the hands of Bournemouth.
Possession: Unlike many other League games this season, we were not on top in terms of possession at the Vitality Stadium. The hosts had the edge in terms of keeping the ball with 52% possession to our 48% possession.
Shots on and off target: The game was not without its fair share of goal mouth action with the South Coast side having 21 attempts to our 15, 9 of them were on target compared to only 7 of ours being directly at Artur Boruc’s goal. 2 of Bournemouth’s 21 attempts were penalties which were both missed by Josh King and Benik Afobe, with Afobe’s effort being saved by our keeper Darren Randolph. One thing is clear; yet again we did not take enough of our chances and were punished by our opposition.
Passing accuracy: Bournemouth were the better side with regards to most stats in their victory yesterday. However, not passing accuracy. We just had the edge over our fellow Premier League strugglers with 77% to 76% of our passes finding their recipients.
Corners: A major sign that we just weren’t clinical enough yesterday was having more corners, 6 to 5, than our opposition. When you have as much aerial threat as a team like ours does, it is vital to make the most of set pieces, something we just didn’t do at the Vitality Stadium.
Bilic “we deserved more”
Our Croatian manager, Slaven Bilic, believes we deserved more after our defeat to Bournemouth yesterday. Bilic, in his post match interview, said, “it was a good game and we deserved more”. The Croat was speaking on account of our tally of missed chances against the Cherries; Bilic is now under a bit of pressure after we slipped to our second League defeat in a row. We are now without a win in 4 Premier League matches and for the sake of Bilic, we must fight back when we face the champions, Leicester City, in 6 days time.
Bournemouth game main talking points
Slaven Bilic’s tactics came under major fire at full time yesterday, with the main criticism being the inclusion of Cheikhou Kouyate in his unnatural right back position for the third consecutive week. We are yet to win a game with the Senegalese midfielder in the position with many calling for young right back Sam Byram to take up the position from him. Kouyate is the third midfielder to be tried in the position and Hammers fans are hoping for the purchase of another full back in the Summer transfer window. Bilic was also criticised for the starting of Algerian international Sofiane Feghouli over January signing Robert Snodgrass, Feghouli contributed little to the game apart from winning the ball back for Antonio’s goal. Feghouli was also involved in one of the biggest moments of the match when he pulled Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels down inside the area, the referee Bobby Madley pointed to the spot only for Josh King to fire wide.
For the third consecutive League game, our club record signing Andre Ayew has come on from the bench to make a major impact. The Ghanaian international has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 3 games since returning from the AFCON, all of which have been appearances from the bench. Many Hammers fans are calling for Ayew to be started and make no mistake about it there should be some tactical changes ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Leicester.
Poor defending comes at a heavy price again
One major issue in our relatively poor season so far has been defending, an inconsistency that cost us again yesterday on the South Coast. Our sorry looking back 4 was time after time cut open by the pace and power of Bournemouth’s Josh King and Benik Afobe for the 90 minutes. Jose Fonte was signed in January to cope with the loss of Angelo Ogbonna through injury for the rest of the season but has struggled to settle in and is yet to keep a clean sheet in 5 appearances for us. We don’t have much in the form of back up when it comes to centre back with veteran James Collins our only proper back up in the position. Bright young academy prospects Reece Burke and Reece Oxford are both currently out on loan, so many are asking the question “is it maybe time to give youth more of a chance at West Ham?” Yesterday’s frustrating defeat leaves us rooted to 11th place, it is important for the sake of Slaven Bilic that we finish top half.
West Ham DVD Iron Men released
A unique DVD made by and for the Hammers fans was released for us last week. The film starring club fan and Hollywood actor, Ray Winstone, documents our emotional final season at Upton Park and our move to our new home, The London Stadium. The East London born actor said: “the film is about where we come from and that is why I wanted to do it”. Winstone was speaking to WHUFC TV at the premier of the film held in East London last week with many first team players in attendance. The film Iron Men takes its name from our nickname “the Irons”. The ode to Hammers fans is on sale now at most large DVD retailers.
This morning’s transfer gossip: Hammers eye Zabaleta and Gray
It has been rumoured this week in the Mirror that we may be eying up a move for Argentine international and Manchester City right back, Pablo Zabaleta. The 32 year old’s contract is up at the Etihad in the summer and is being reported that the City veteran will not be offered a new one. The Argentine has played in a number of different positions this season, including central midfielder and right back, Zabaleta has made over 200 appearances for City scoring 8 goals. It has also been reported in the Mirror this week that we have joined the race to sign prolific Burnley striker, Andre Gray, The inform Englishman has 8 Premier League goals this season and is thought to be being hunted by 8 other Premier League teams. We may have to battle hard for the 25 year old who burst on to the scene in Burnley’s promotion last season.
Bilic backs skipper Noble
Our manager Slaven Bilic has given support to our much scrutinized captain, Mark Noble. The 29 year old Englishman has come under fire from critics this season for his level of performance in big games, such as our 1-2 defeat to League leaders Chelsea last Monday. Bilic is having none of the critics and in an interview with WHUFC.com he said “He listens, he leads, and he is a top professional. It’s ideal when you have players like him in your team”. At the end of last season many were calling for the midfielder to be given his first England cap. Noble enjoyed a superb 15/16 campaign reaching his highest ever goal tally for a season, but miss out on the call from Roy Hodgson for Euro 2016 and almost a year later it is hard to deny that Noble’s level of performance has dropped. Noble’s best years are almost undoubtedly behind him.
U23 side draw Newcastle in PL 2 cup
The defending champions of the PL 2 cup our under 23’s have been drawn away at Newcastle in the first knock out round of this year’s competition. Our second side won the 2016 competition on penalties overcoming Hull City just over the 2 legs with Raphael Sméagol making a number of key saves in the shootout. The tie will be played at Newcastle’s St James’s Park.
Payet comments on exactly why he left the London Stadium
Ex Hammers play maker Dmitri Payet has commented on why he left us just over a month after his controversial departure. Payet caused one of the biggest Premier League transfer sagas in January when despite his £120K a week wages, he simply refused to play for Bilic with Gold and Sullivan shipping him back to Marseille for £25m, over twice the amount we bought him for. The French winger said “I have no desire in playing in the lower reaches of the Premier League; the defensive system we put in place did not give me any pleasure”. Payet was talking in an interview with French Football magazine L`equip. Payet enjoyed a fantastic first Premier League season with us, winning the Hammer of the Year award and getting into the PFA PL team of the season, the superb season also get him a FIFA Ballon D’or nomination and got him back into the France side that almost won Euro 2016. The France International’s achievements in the 2016/17 season foreshadowed his poor form this season, when news of his rift with Bilic emerged the fans turned on him and he left us for France in a very bad light, earning him lots of criticism. There is no doubt that Payet has been enjoying his time back in France of late, assisting two goals in Marseille’s 3-0 win over Angers on Friday night.
Masuaku on his way out
It has been reported in The Sun that Hammers flop Arthur Masuaku will be sold in the summer, just one year after joining from Olympiakos. The former France u19 man has endured a tough first season with us which has included 6 months out through injury and being dropped numerous times. Masuaku has been much criticised for his performances in Claret and Blue this season and will reportedly be shipped away from The London Stadium in the summer transfer window.