Tomas Soucek, the Czech Engine, has been scoring a lot less this season. Our joint top league scorer last season has mustered 2 goals in all competitions so far this campaign. Some football fans, mostly people who aren’t paying attention, have likened this to a dip in performances and form.
It is, however, not as clear-cut as this. Soucek has not been netting for the Hammers as much this season, but there are other reasons for this and his importance for the team and the squad’s brilliant start to the season cannot be underestimated.
One of the reasons for Soucek’s dip in goalscoring form is clearly a switch in midfield responsibilities between him and Declan Rice. Rice has become otherworldly in his attacking play this season – Surging Yaya Touré-esc midfield runs, killer attacking passes and Declan has even begun channeling his inner CR7, taking beautifully hit shots from 30 yards (any second now they are all going to start going in).
It seems that while last season Soucek was the go to man to get late runs into the box to score, this season Rice has been given that permission, giving Soucek the responsibility of sitting back slightly in order not to commit too many bodies to the attack. This argument would take some of the blame of Tomas’ shoulders.
Soucek has, however, been missing chances. There is no doubt about that. Most notably, our cup tie with Manchester City saw Soucek miss several chances that you would have banked on him putting away a year ago.
The Czech is still bossing our midfield in terms of defensive solidity, control, and breaking up opposition play. These traits, which he remains consistent with, are his most important qualities. If our attacking players can get themselves out of this current slump, Soucek can be content with scoring less and maintaining control of midfield along with Rice.
Soucek may have started scoring less, but he is still an absolutely essential part of the team and is not even close to being dropped. The goals were a bonus, they aren’t his job.