A superb performance from West Ham led to a 4-0 victory over Wolves for the first three points of the season. Here are my thoughts on the match and what it means for the Irons moving forward.
Defensively sound but in need of reinforcements: West Ham kept the club’s first clean sheet of the league against Wolves. The three at the back system has proved effective as there has been more cover for our fullbacks on the flanks and our lack of pace defensively is negated with five defenders being utilized. However, if this formation is to continue to be used, it is even more important to bring in defensive reinforcements before the transfer window closes.
More defenders are going to be used per game and some defenders are injury-prone. Combined with a global pandemic that has already sidelined Issa Diop, West Ham are extremely thin defensively. It will catch up with the club if defensive signings aren’t made.
Pablo Fornals is the most underrated Hammer: Fellow Green St. Hammer Adam Smith wrote about Pablo Fornals being West Ham’s unsung hero, and I couldn’t agree more. I do believe he is not best utilized on the wing and would be more effective in a central role. Some fans have even called for Fornals to be benched because of this. However, what Fornals lacks in natural wing ability, he more than makes up for in heart and effort.
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He is always giving 110% and was the hardest worker on the pitch on Sunday. On top of that, he was extremely effective with his performance, grabbing an assist to Bowen and almost scoring a fantastic goal that hit off the woodwork, only to lead to Bowen’s second goal of the game. Fornals needs to continue to start and the lineup should be unchanged for the match against Leicester at the weekend.
Haller is the odd man out for now: It may be unfair, as our record signing has scored five goals in all competitions so far this season, but Sebastien Haller should be the odd man out in the league for now. The starting lineups used for the Arsenal and Wolves matches have proved effective and formidable, both in formation and players used. Many fans have called for Haller to start upfront. While understandable, I don’t believe that is the right move at this time.
‘Antonio has caused defenders countless problems with his strength and speed, so you can’t move him out of the lineup. Fornals is the only other candidate to move out of the starting lineup but, as mentioned earlier, I don’t see how you take him out of the XI either. It’s a good problem for David Moyes to have as he has plenty of attacking options who are in form. Right now, Haller is the odd man out but he will get his chance to start in the league eventually.
Arthur Masuaku has found his role: You could make the argument Masuaku has been the best player for West Ham over the last two matches. While I would disagree with you on that, he has been absolutely superb. West Ham fans had been clamouring for Masuaku to be moved from the left-back role he had been played in to a more attacking-focused role that better suits his on-ball skills.
His good form continued against Wolves with great attacking play that resulted in an assist during stoppage time. This 3 at the back formation is the best fit for Arthur. If the team ever moves away from this formation to a classic 4 at the back, Arthur should only be considered for a midfielder role.
Jarrod Bowen will be key: I predicted that Jarrod Bowen would be our joint top scorer. While Haller leads the team with five goals in all competitions, Bowen got off the mark in the league with a brace against Wolves. While some fans were calling for him to be replaced by Yarmolenko, Bowen responded to the critics with clinical finishing in the final third.
His first goal was expertly taken and he found himself in a great position for his second. Bowen has cemented the starting right-wing spot for himself and more goals will be needed from him if West Ham are to continue getting wins.