Slaven Bilic’s second season in charge of West Ham is not quite matching the heights of his first campaign, in fact it’s nowhere near as the East London side have only picked up a solitary win in their first five league matches. That win came at the London Stadium housewarming party against Bournemouth on the second weekend of the season but since then they have added three successive defeats to their opening weekend loss at Stamford Bridge.
So the question that needs to be asked is where is it all going wrong for West Ham at present? Lets now look at three main reasons
Defensive horror shows
West Ham have conceded 13 goals in their first 5 league matches, which in any context is quite a worrying statistic but what makes for worse reading is the fact that 11 of those have come in their last three outings. Conceding 3 at The Etihad arguably isn’t that bad as teams as other sides have fared worse against Manchester City so far this season but conceding 8 times in back to back matches against Watford and West Brom will be a huge cause of concern for Slaven Bilic.
The home defeat to Watford saw a capitulation from 2-0 up which then led to Watford running riot to overturn what looked like a healthy lead for The Hammers. You could perhaps attribute that to just a bad day at office, obviously not forgivable but you would hope it’s the kind of result that you put to bed in time for the arrival of the next fixture.
But their trip to The Hawthorns was almost comical as West Brom raced into a 4-0 lead. You know you are having a bad day when a team puts four goals past you, it’s even worse when it’s a team managed by Tony Pulis. That was the first time that West Brom have scored four times under the helm of Pulis.
West Ham may have some impressive attacking talent but the defence looks all at sea, it’s something that Bilic is going to have to work on before the season becomes a real shipwreck
Injuries to key players
One mitigating circumstance is the fact that they have had injuries to key players and West Ham are yet to actual field what you would consider a full strength line up. The biggest absence is undoubtedly Winston Reid, he hasn’t featured in the last two matches and West Ham have shipped 8. Everyone connected with the club will be hoping his return is just around the corner
The side looks like it has rediscovered it’s spark since the return of Dimitri Payet, he has assisted all of West Ham’s goals from open play since his return and the difference in the side as an functional attacking unit is almost night and day since the return of the mercurial Frenchmen
But that said they are still lacking key personnel up front, the presence of Andy Carroll harassing defenders is a big miss while Andre Ayew’s long term injury after only one appearance will have no doubt been a massive blow. There’s only so much you can prepare against injuries with a lot of it coming down to luck and it seems as if The Hammers are having more than their share of bad luck
As Tottenham showed at the start of their Champions League adventure at Wembley it’s not always easy playing football at a new home. With West Ham leaving Upton Park in May and picking up the keys to the former Olympic venue you have to wonder if the London Stadium is going to be a help or a hindrance.
They may have won their first league game their with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth but that arguably only came about once The Cherries were reduced to 10 men. Their embarrassing collapse at home to Watford sparked ugly scenes in the stands as life in the new stadium is going through some teething problems.
With a new stadium there comes a weight of expectation and maybe after their 7th place finish last season perhaps that expectation has become too great. There’s no taking away from last season efforts but that is undoubtedly bringing it’s own pressures and the fact they are playing in a new environment means the team are going to take some time to settle.
In conclusion there is plenty of talent in that West Ham squad and first things first Slaven Bilic needs to sort out the defensive issues regardless of whether or not he has a full strength lineup as the errors that are being made are basic ones. If and when they can build a defensive platform to work with then you would imagine that results will come but that rejuvenation has to come quickly otherwise as the London Stadium may become a pretty soulless place to play in. The next few weeks are going to be pretty testing for West Ham.