Whilst the clouds parted and the sun shone overhead the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon, there is still much to fear for the remainder of the season. Although it is time to celebrate a win, the West Ham faithful must temper that enthusiasm until more points are secured and survival is assured.

ā€œDon’t you know about the praying mantis that waved its arms angrily in front of an approaching carriage, unaware that they were incapable of stopping it? Such was the high opinion it had of its talents.ā€ – Zhuangzi

Let us not forget that this season has been littered with average to poor performances with rare impressive demonstrations, yet it would be convenient to believe that the pain has passed behind and all was fair weather ahead for a smooth sail after a performance as just witnessed against a really terrible Southampton side under the dire tutelage of Mark Hughes.

David Moyes surprised many with his offensive start to the game and the players responded with a 3-0 lead as they made their way off the field at half time. The goals were glorious but better still were individual performances and how the glue was finally starting to stick the team together. The game was already won, but in the second half the tactics were obviousā€¦to ease the game away and not take too many chances. It made for some nervous moments and allowed Southampton to get a foothold in the possession game, but still failed to threaten.

Many did rejoice in similar fashion after the 1-4 away win at Huddersfield, when Lanzini and Arnautovic partnered so well and tore the northerners to shredsā€¦however they both succumbed to injury in the next league game against Bournemouthā€¦and as a result the team performances suffered. The entire season has been a catalogue of missed opportunities, relentless injury woes and uncapitalised momentumā€¦is that to be the continuing fate for the claret and blue army?

Moyes has had the unenviable challenge of arranging the mismatched jigsaw pieces and finding solutions to make them fit with each other whilst having to contend with the disproportionate amount of injuries for the season. However, he has bewildered and infuriated fans with his defensive posturing since his induction, his mind boggling lethargy when making substitutions and where in many encounters, greater ambition would be the order of the day.

The season has thrown up so many opportunities for the players and the team as a whole to confirm their talents and the proposition that they are a top eight sideā€¦possibly even Europa League contenders, well at least on paper. However, time and time again they have shirked responsibilities and have shrunk in the winter cold as oppositions ran riot in the West Ham half and found the goal with alarming regularity.

Complacency started to set in as Moyes led the team to a string of positive results, albeit each performance was largely bereft of passion and lacking inspirationā€¦even home grown or travelling away support failed to be their muses in many outings. Many commented, predicted and confirmed Moyes would steer the team clear at the end of the seasonā€¦and they may yet be proved correct however, there are spicy challenges ahead and which may be the final undoing of Moyes and the West Ham higgledy piggledy jigsaw.

Confidence and luck would play a big part here and in the remaining games, but tactics, mentality and purpose would put up sturdy test to any fascinations of any aspiring reapers, no matter how grim they may appear. Consistency has been the clubā€™s enemy all season, hence the situation the team finds itself in now. It may yet require another six points from the remaining games before anyone should pop the cork from any bottle of Asda Prosecco, but it is in within grasp if only the team and manager would reach out and tempt fate.

The fortunate ones may take comfort from another three teams who would show even less endeavour than West Ham have all season, however merely avoiding relegation is simply not the minimum the fans would expect, although that may be the challenge Moyes has been set by the owners who would see the green through their hands and would ignore the red seen by the majority of the fanbase.

The next game against Chelsea will be a monumental challenge, especially as they would want to right their wronged defeat at the London Stadium earlier in the season and after a sour beating at the hands of Spurs on Easter Sunday. Moyes and the boys must stand tall, show up and launch themselves with fire in their eyes upon wounded Chelsea kneesā€¦but beware those with little to lose and much to gain, for Chelsea have faced their own demons this season and on the same weekend may see their mantle as champions removed as Manchester City may claim theirs when they square up to Manchester United.

West Ham would be best served to defend resolutely but stifle the play and press high up the field to harass and rush the Chelsea midfield into unforced errors, then counter with a ferocious appetite that would see Arnautovic cover himself in glory and attract the unwavering adoration from a travelling support.

If Moyes can inspire the team to play on the front foot as they did in the first half against Southampton, then there might be a welcome resolution to the encounter, however adopting a defensive formation may attract the wolves to come and feast upon rotting corpses. It will be another tough day at the office for Moyes and the team, but a hard fought battle will be confidence building and would serve them well in the subsequent game against Stoke the following week.

There are no easy matches for anyone in the run in. West Ham would play four teams from the top six before the season ends and whilst there is little expectation of victory, West Ham could yet prove to be the banana skins which would force mass slippage of those mightier oppressors. They will be spicy encounters but Moyes must use a sticky chilli sauce to galvanise the players, keep their heads held high and fight until the very last breath. Show themselves to be the warriors that we all hoped they would be and come away with the points so crucially required.

Gonzo

By Gonzo

West Ham fan for as long as I can remember. I was flukey enough to watch The Irons beat Bury 10-0 in my first ever game . . . True to form, West Ham then went out and signed their central defender šŸ˜¬

4 thought on “The banana skins and the sticky chilli sauce!”
  1. Well written piece highlighting the hurdles yet to straddle. Our biggest challenge is, as intimated, falling in to the temptation of playing too defensively and allowing the opposition to take the initiative. 37 points may just be good enough with Stoke at home being the make or break game in my opinion. One or two points gained from the rest of our fixtures will be down to the willingness to gamble and play with the vigour shown within the first half on Saturday

    1. Yes absolutely so. I’ll be interested to see how Moyes sets up this weekend and what kind of performance is delivered.

  2. We can only live in hope that Moyes has taken on board recent performances and shares our conclusions. This Sunday is a London Derby in which the team will get the support they yearn for. Win, lose or draw, we have to take it to Chelsea to which is an approach that I am sure all Hammers Fans will share.

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