The dust has settled, we go again and any other cliché you can think of. We come into the weekend on the back of another defeat, this time at home to Bournemouth. This was the start of our season, if Mark Noble (pictured) is to be believed. This would have been where we showed what we could do. A 1-2 defeat at home followed, with more tricky fixtures to come. It was a lacklustre display, despite what people may think. In the first half, we played better football than we have since leaving Upton Park. But those defensive issues remained. We still let players through on goal and again, if not for Fabianski, we would have lost by more. Some of the saves he has made so far have been outstanding. How people are calling for Adrian already need to look at some of his performances. I love Adrian, he is a true West Ham player but Fabianski has done nothing wrong.
I find it amazing that players spent the week making statements about improving and getting in front of the home fans. They failed to turn up. It was a shocking performance which led to fans leaving early. So of course, the fans who left were to blame. That last ten minutes were going to be affected by the fans as much as the first 80 were. The fans have backed the team and still seen poor performances. But still, the fans are to blame. Just once, I would like to see the players take the blame instead of saying the usual go again stuff. When the same mistakes and lack of effort are being made, fans might want to just walk away as they have seen it before.
We face Arsenal tomorrow, and if I’m honest, I can’t see us getting anything. Arsenal can’t defend but will be able to this weekend. So far, we have been toothless in attack. We had a better look to us against Bournemouth, but we still never looked like scoring. Players are still jogging over the half way line and Mark Noble was doing a very good impression of Cheikou Kouyate when Callum Wilson scored. Maybe his season starts next week instead.
My team for this game would have changes in personnel. Fabianski keeps his place (Adrian will play against Wimbledon) but the defence needs changing. Zabaleta understands how Pellegrini wants to play defensively so should start again. The other three spots are up for grabs. Balbuena and Ogbonna haven’t been too convincing so far. Balbuena seems out of his depth now and needs time, but Arsenal’s forwards will rip him to pieces. Ogbonna next to him offers him no cover and will only apply more pressure. I’d go for Rice and Diop at the back. Our short-lived record signing has been given no chance but seems to have a bit of pace about him and Rice would complement him. He is very young but has shown time and again his defensive understanding is above average. He struggled against Liverpool, but better players will do the same.
The midfield is a key area, regardless of the opposition. Over the first two games, we have massively missed a midfield presence. Jack Wilshere and Noble haven’t shown enough as a pairing to either protect the back line or start moves for the forwards. We have been woefully exposed and again, change in this area is necessary. I’d bring in Obiang and Sanchez alongside Wilshere as that will fill out the midfield and allow Wilshere to drive forward when necessary. Pellegrini always talks about possession but in games like these three men in midfield is a must.
Up front, Arnautovic will keep his spot. Hernandez unfortunately misses out but could be an impact sub. Supporting would be Anderson and Yarmolenko. Anderson hasn’t really tracked back in the first two games, but two defensive midfielders could benefit him. Yarmolenko gets the nod for me purely because in the first two games, Antonio looked ineffective going forward and Snodgrass, while playing well, just didn’t do enough. We have a squad now and players need to be used accordingly. Perez only just misses out for me, but again an impact sub is a good role for him in this game. He showed what skill he possesses on his debut and not using him at all would be a waste.
We need to start picking up points and while that may not start at the Emirates, performances need a drastic improvement. If the defending side of our play looks better against Arsenal, that’s a positive we need to build on. Out fixtures to start the season are horrendous. But a good performance over 90 minutes for once will make things just a little bit better. These things take time. Don’t forget, Manchester United nearly sacked Fergie and look how he turned out. Not saying Pellegrini will reach that level with us, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. COYI.
Written By Stephen