Which West Ham players have the most to prove?

With the return of the Premier League seemingly drawing ever closer, West Ham players are now back in training with the aim of trying to get back to full fitness.

As well as their physical priorities, though, some will just as importantly need to revert back to the mindset that may help West Ham maintain their top-flight status.

Before the footballing hiatus, David Moyes’ men looked to be slowly but surely improving. While the form guide didn’t necessarily back this up – with a home victory against Southampton being their only three points since New Year’s Day – performances against difficult opposition certainly left many hopeful.

The January additions of Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen both made positive impacts on the starting XI when the team looked to be turning stale, which has helped rejuvenate a lacklustre squad.

But which players may come back with a point to prove more than others?

The first player that comes to mind is Felipe Anderson. After a highly promising first season in east London, the Brazilian has failed to live up to the standards that he once set.

With just one goal to his name in 24 appearances, Anderson looks unrecognisable from the talismanic winger that saw him bag double digits in his debut Premier League season. Along with his lack of goal-threat, he has often looked hesitant to take on opposition defenders, despite evidently possessing the pace and trickery to get the better of most.

This clearly shows that his problems lie in his head, with his mentality issues prolonging his on-field issues even further.

His place in the team looked to be under threat just before the break, as the quartet of Sebastien Haller, Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen looked to have found some chemistry, leaving no place in the side for Anderson.

From an individualistic perspective, the stoppage may have come at the right time for Felipe, as it has given him a chance to recharge his batteries and find the certain headspace that made him so deadly last season.

Sebastian Haller is another attacker that has had a disappointing season, with prolonged periods without scoring after a big summer move to the Hammers.

It isn’t just his lack of goalscoring exploits that have heralded criticism, however, but the lack of effort on the pitch that has often been seen when the going gets tough. The Hammers faithful would almost certainly be a lot more forgiving of his poor form if he showed more enthusiasm to help the team.

The Frenchman can’t solely be blamed for his poor campaign, though, as the lack of support provided around him throughout the season has often left him demoralised.

Haller famously played in a strike partnership with Luka Jovic at Eintracht Frankfurt and, to no surprise, looked like a completely different player. His quality link-up play was there for all to see, as well as having more chances to find the net himself.

We have seen this Haller on occasion, mainly with Antonio supplying him with the support that he needs to thrive.

Moyes has had an abundance of time to figure out what to do with Haller, so West Ham fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that they will finally get to see the 45 million man that the club signed last summer.

Last but not least is Issa Diop, in what is a curious case similar to Anderson, as he has been failing to live up to his own high standards.

The 23-year-old had a terrific maiden Premier League season, but like others, he has failed to regain the form that saw him linked with clubs such as Manchester United.

It is the older and more experienced Angelo Ogbonna that has managed to keep the Hammers defence somewhat functional this season, despite being written off by many beforehand, and displaying qualities that Hammers fans expect to see from Diop on a weekly basis.

The French defender has been accused of a lack of concentration, which has proven costly on a number of occasions. If he can improve on this side of his game, he has the physical capabilities to become one of the elite defenders in the Premier League.

Next: West Ham must stay away from Stoke City’s Butland

The West Ham defence will need to be difficult to penetrate if they want to avoid the drop, and Diop will need to stand up and be counted if that is to happen.

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