Th(Ings) Can Only Get Better for West Ham

But first we need to improve our record against Brighton

What a difference a proven goalscorer makes! The acquisition of Danny Ings may not totally fit the plan of buying young, hungry players that was mooted a couple of seasons ago, but needs must. The two goals within a minute or so that opened the floodgates against Nottingham Forest weren’t the prettiest, although the first wasn’t one of the easiest to put into the net, but goals are goals and count however they are scored. The lovely strike from Declan Rice only equals Danny Ings’ second goal, however it went into the net.

The performance was much improved as the manager perhaps realised that he was instilling too much caution into the players in previous games. The two goals in quick succession relieved the pressure, and the freedom to express themselves was evident in the final twenty minutes.

A decent performance at Old Trafford on Wednesday followed with an excellently taken goal from Benrahma, and other chances (that a striker / finisher of the calibre of Ings might have put away?) could have put the tie beyond the home side. But unfortunately he was cup tied after turning out for Villa in their defeat to Stevenage in an earlier round. Hopefully he will be back for the trip to the South Coast this weekend.

Aguerd, who has looked so good in recent games, had a nightmare performance. The goal we conceded in the 75th minute when he headed it into his own net, was the first that we have conceded from a corner this season. We were the only team in the Premier League not to have let in a goal in this way in the campaign to date, and it was unfortunate that it came in this way. We were still level as extra time loomed but two late goals from mistakes, Johnson not closing down and Aguerd’s lack of concentration, meant a 3-1 score to the Red Devils that flattered them.

I’m afraid I wasn’t impressed with the ITV coverage of the game. A neutral onlooker on TV would easily have known that Manchester United were playing, but might have struggled to know the name of the opponents. The pre-match and post-match coverage was typical fare in respect of what we can expect from the media I am afraid.

At least there was some consolation on the night with Tottenham going out of the Cup to a Championship side, and Arsenal thrashing Everton plus Liverpool beating Wolves in the league; good results for us in respect of the other clubs involved towards the bottom of the table.

It wasn’t his best night in the end but I feel much happier with Areola in goal. I wonder if he will now get a consistent run in the league games with the unfortunate injury to Fabianski. If he performs well, and I believe he will, I hope that he retains his place once Fabianski is fit again. 

After Wednesday night we now have a game in hand over both Wolves and Everton. It would be good to use this advantage by winning it! An extended run of wins would help us to pull clear of the bottom three. Can we achieve this? The defeat of Forest, good as it was, must be followed up by more good performances and points.

In recent articles I have been analysing the position and current form of the bottom teams. I will continue to concentrate on the bottom nine as Palace in twelfth place are still only six points clear of the relegation zone. The points of the bottom nine (with the number of games remaining in brackets) are:

Palace 27 (14 to play), Forest 25 (14), Leicester 24 (14), Wolves 24 (13), West Ham 23 (14), Leeds 22 (14), Everton 21 (13), Bournemouth 21 (14), Southampton 18 (14).

Our goal difference is significantly superior to the other teams involved (apart from Leicester who are equal in this respect) so that might be worth another point in the final reckoning.

The points gained in the last 5 games are a guide to current form and we have now (at last) moved to the top of this mini-league which is a good sign:

West Ham 8, Leicester 7, Wolves 7, Everton 6, Forest 5, Bournemouth 5, Leeds 4, Palace 4, Southampton 3.

With the bottom six clubs still achieving less than a point a game so far this season, and an average of a point a game equalling fourteenth place in the table at present, and so many clubs potentially involved in the relegation struggle, then I still reckon that a final total of 37 or 38 should be enough to confirm Premier League football next season. That would mean 14 or 15 from those games if my estimate turns out to be correct. Based on current averages then 35 could be enough.

Looking at our remaining fourteen fixtures can you see where the requisite number of points will come from? Five of them are against teams that I have previously identified as being in the bottom nine, so winning (at least not losing) in those fixtures takes on added importance. Five games are against teams in the top six, against whom we have not collected many points in recent times, and the remaining four are against sides in ‘no-mans land’ between 7th and 11th in the table, although Fulham in 7th are level on points with Liverpool (6th), and this weekend’s opponents Brighton (8th) and Brentford (9th) both have games in hand that could push them closer to the top with positive results.

The figures in brackets below are the points that we picked up in the reverse fixtures already played earlier in the season. If we were to replicate those then we would collect another 12 points to take us up to 35. Might that be enough? We would be cutting it fine, so we must therefore hope for more than that I would suggest.

4/3 Away v Brighton (0)

12/3 Home v Villa (3)

19/3 Away v Man City (0)

2/4 Home v Southampton (1)

5/4 Home v Newcastle (1)

8/4 Away v Fulham (3)

16/4 Home v Arsenal (0)

22/4 Away v Bournemouth (3)

26/4 Home v Liverpool (0)

29/4 Away v Palace (0)

6/5 Home v Man Utd (0)

13/5 Away v Brentford (0)

20/5 Home v Leeds (1)

28/5 Away v Leicester (0)

Our performances against Brighton since they were promoted to the top flight do not bode well for this game. This is the sixth season, and in the previous eleven encounters we have not beaten them at all! We have drawn on six occasions and been beaten five times, and have never kept a clean sheet in any of those eleven games. With the increased amount of statistics available these days it has been identified that the opening 15 minutes could be vital in this match. Brighton have scored more goals in this period of the game than any other team in the Premier League so far this season. On the other hand we have yet to score a goal in the first quarter of an hour in any game. Why are we so slow off the mark?

We could really do with improving our record against the Seagulls and this weekend would be a good time to start. Recent history is against us. Can we do it? A point would be good but three would be even better. What are the chances?

6 thoughts on “Th(Ings) Can Only Get Better for West Ham”

  1. Well, as I wrote to your compadre Geoff Hopkins in the week, Antonio was able single- handedly to stem the flow of goals and in the process cost us the tie. Personally, I’m happy to forget the FA Cup this year and “ focus on the league” as the old cliche would have it. We have enough on our plates at weekends and in Europe not to harbour too many regrets over the Cup. I just hope Aguerd is not unsettled by his very uncharacteristic lapse at the end of the tie. The own goal was mostly Areola’s fault.
    Also, I dream of one day being able to field our best side, but I guess that will never happen. Certainly not while we have a medical team that lets a player ( Coufal) take the pitch with a known injury, bad enough for him to be taken off at half time. Who are these clowns?


    1. Hi Mike

      It’s difficult to compare statistics but our injury record as a club for a few years now must be one of the worst of all top flight clubs.
      I am disappointed that we are out of the FA Cup. Being old enough to watch us win the trophy in 1964, 1975, and 1980, and possibly the best night of all the Cup Winners Cup in 1965, it doesn’t require winning many games and they are memories that live with you forever.
      I can’t see us winning the league in my lifetime so the cup competitions are the only hope. Had we progressed on Wednesday there would have been only two ties to get through to be in the Final.
      So many of the really great games have been in cup competitions – the 1964 semi final beating ManU and the 1976 semi final beating Frankfurt are just 2 highlights to add to the winning finals.
      Oh well there’s always next year.


      1. I went to the game in ‘65 a night another Hammer of limited ability, Alan Sealy , had his day ( or night) in the sun. Antonio has been great for us and always tried his heart out, but the limits to his ability have been well and truly reached.
        I know nothing about our medical team , other than that they appear, at best, to be incompetent. At worst they are downright criminal.
        The other area we have never come close to getting right is the transfer market. Historically, the list of disasters is too numerous to even think of listing. Currently, nothing I saw of Pacqueta against us made me think he was worth £60 million plus, and whilst Scamacca had had a few games for Italy, he hadn’t scored in any of them. That doesn’t make him a bad player, but he is wrong for the system Moyse asks him to play in. Meanwhile, there is a guy called Newman somewhere out there stealing a £1 million a year living IMO.


  2. Hi Richard, you mention the chances…I see we’re 7th favourites to go down, with both Leicester and Palace marginally better rated. I can see us climbing above the pack, though, if the current mood continues. The atmosphere at LS last week was better. Don’t know if you went, but the players looked far more up for it (also off the ball). They also competed well the other night. I believe things are getting better, but only because the players made their feelings known to the management who seem to have listened. I was disappointed to see Antonio start the other night ahead of Scamacca, but believe the latter may yet have a say in our season. Would love to see him up front, heading balls down to Ings. But maybe I’m a dreamer…


    1. Hi John

      Yes we were seventh favourites even when we were in the bottom three.
      Can you imagine our manager teaming Scamacca and Ings together to start a game? He would really have to have changed his ideas on how we should be approaching games.
      But on the evidence of the Forest game perhaps the management are listening?
      We shall see.
      Yes I am confident that there are at least 4 or 5 teams who will finish below us. But we really shouldn’t be in the position we are in with the players in our squad. There are limitations certainly but we really ought to be somewhere in the top half, shouldn’t we?


      1. We certainly should be. We have some very good players. 7th last year followed by investment over the summer that was the 2rd or 3rd highest globally. Result? We’re fighting relegation…It highlights how ineptly the situation has been managed. Quite incredible. At some point this team will start punching its weight, but only, I reckon, under new management.


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