West Ham United (A) | Pre-Match Review
West Ham United vs Sheffield United 21/10/2019
English Premier League
Will the best United in the Premier League change hands again after Monday’s result? Or will Sheffield United take another small step towards what some (nobody at all) are calling the ‘United Cup’?
Last Time Out
West Ham United 1 (Sakho, 40) - 1 (Reid OG, 58) Sheffield United (Sheffield United go through 4-5 on Penalties) 24/08/2014
Capital One Cup
This was the first meeting between the 2 clubs since the tedious ‘Carlos Tevez Affair’ which ended with an out-of-court settlement being paid in excess of £20m to Sheffield United, fat lot of good that did for us in the end.
The saga was still fresh in the memory for both sets of supporters, with both singing songs in reference to it.
The Hammers took the lead when Diafra Sakho scored his first goal for the club 5 minutes before half-time. He was flanked by the Ecuadorian forward Enner Valencia who impressed in the World Cup that year, scoring 3 goals in as many games and former Barnsley player Ricardo Vaz Te.
Ravel Morrison, played in the number 10 role which was anchored by Mo Diame and Diego Poyet, Gus Poyet’s son.
In ‘Players I Forgot About This Week’ I cannot remember Ben Davis for the life of me, I went to a lot of games during this season but I appear to have wiped him from my memory. He played on the left wing that evening, with whispering Bob Harris behind him whos cross in the 58th minute found the head of Mark McNulty, only for the ball to fall to Winston Reid whose touch put it past a wrong-footed Jussi Jaaskelainen.
It was a solid defensive performance for Nigel Clough’s side and managed to restrict West Ham to a solitary goal, they had 10 shots of target (and another 13 off target) but Mark Howard was in fine form taking the game to extra-time and penalties.
Howard would then prove to be the hero saving Enner Valencia’s penalty and West Ham’s 4th of the shootout.
That meant it was all down to Michael Doyle, who placed the ball in the bottom left corner sending Jaaskelainen the wrong way and United did a Cockney Walk to the 3rd round (funnily enough, against fellow Cockneys Leyton Orient).
Summer at West Ham
Notable Ins: Sébastien Haller (£40.5m, Eintracht Frankfurt), Pablo Fornals (£24m, Villareal), Albian Ajeti (£8m, Basel), Goncalo Cardoso (Undisclosed, Boavista), Roberto (Free, Espanyol), David Martin (Free, Millwall)
Notable Outs: Marko Arnautovic (£22.4m, Shanghai SIPG), Edmilson Fernandes (£8m, Mainz 05), Javier Hernandez (£7.3m Sevilla), Pedro Obiang (£7.2m, Sassuolo), Reece Oxford (£3.6m, Augsburg), Lucaz Perez (£2m, Alaves), Sam Byram (£750k, Norwich City), Samir Nasri (Free, Anderlecht), Adrian (Free, Liverpool), Andy Carroll (Free, Newcastle United)
It’s been a summer of clearing some of the deadwood and adding quality additions to an already decent squad for the Hammers this summer, as Manuel Pellegerini continues to rebuild this West Ham squad. Before the signing of Sébastien Haller, ‘The Dildo Brothers’ of Gold and Sullivan had signed 37 strikers in total, between them they scored 199 goals in 920 games.
Haller, was paired with Luka Jovic (now at Real Madrid) at Eintracht Frankfurt and formed a formidable partnership together, scoring 47 goals between them in all competitions last season. Haller scoring 20 of those as well as providing 12 assists. So far, he’s been deployed as a lone centre forward and appears to be just as comfortable, scoring 4 and setting up 1 in 8 games.
Pablo Fornals was one of the brightest players at this Summer’s Under-21 European Championship for Spain, a tournament in which they won. Pellegrini, however, appears to be bringing him through gently, giving him time to adapt to English football.
The club finally said goodbye to Marko Arnautonic who eventually got his dream move to China and what with the departures of Andy Caroll and Javier Hernandez, it could be that the wage bill has been trimmed considerably.
Roberto has come in as the clubs 2nd choice goalkeeper following Adrian leaving on a free transfer and will start Saturday’s fixture due to the injury to 1st choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Albian Ajeti is probably one for the future for now but on paper, West Ham have a very good starting 11.
How have West Ham started the season?
It’s felt like a very typical West Ham start so far. Starting with a very typical battering at the hands of Manchester City at Home. They’ve conceded 22 goals in 5 games, with 5 of them taking place on the opening weekend.
They then went on an unbeaten run of 6 games, which included a win over Manchester United, the last time West Ham won a game. In their subsequent fixture, a League Cup tie against Oxford United they suffered a shock 4-0 defeat. They then managed to salvage a point away at Bournemouth before a home defeat to Crystal Palace and away defeat to Everton, in which they struggled to create chances in the first half.
West Ham were touted as one of the sides who could potentially gatecrash the top 7, Pellegrini was in a second year and they signed well in the summer, but once again their form is patchy and the performances haven’t been great recently.
“Sheffield United reflect his mentality, they way they play is absolutely English football. Strong players, work for 95 minutes with a lot of balls inside the box, so it is a team who perfectly know their style of play.” - on Chris Wilder
“No, because when you have a clear style of play, work during the week the same way you have done for a long time, they will be a consistent and solid team all season.” - on whether he is surprised by Sheffield United’s start to the season.
“The hardest thing to do is to change a winning side, but sometimes that’s the right thing to do. Lys and Didzy came in on Monday night and did brilliantly” - On team selection.
“West Ham are one of them teams that will be knocking on the door of the top 6 - they’re a classy side. In terms of the club itself I think they’re quite like us - a working class fan base who expect their team to play a certain brand of football” - On West Ham
“I don’t see us as a defence minded team - all the recruiting we did in the summer was at the top half of the pitch. Our defence has been extremely organised but sometimes it’s just general desire and decent defending” - On the defence.
Opposition Style of Play
While you couldn’t pinpoint Manuel Pellegrini’s style of play like you could a manager like Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola. Manuel Pellegrini’s sides have always looked to play attack-minded football.
Whether that be in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 with a holding midfielder offering a passing option to the centre backs to help bring the ball out from the back, last season’s midfield 3 was a lot more industrious but the addition of Pablo Fornals or Manuel Lazini being fit again adds a more creative spark.
A lot of their play goes down the wings through Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko, linking up with the full backs to initiate overlaps, allowing their wide players to cut inside with Haller being the focal point of the front 3.
Whilst not being necessarily a ‘long ball side’, they do win their fair share of aerial duels, winning around 19.8 per game.
Their weaknesses this have been from defending attacking through balls, shots from distance and skilful players.
Something that United could exploit through Enda Stevens and Oliver Norwood, they’ve also struggled to protect a winning margin so far this season.
2-2, our away form is strong and Monday’s result will mean United will come into this with confidence, but I also expect West Ham’s forward players to test our defence.
Over 1.5 Goals, Over 8.5 Corners, Over 25 Booking Points at 6/4 (SkyBet); Both Teams to Score in the 1st Half - Yes at 7/2 (SkyBet)
Makes sense to go with the same team doesn’t it?