Inside Track: West Ham

By SFC Media time Thu 02 May West Ham v Saints
Photo by Getty Images | West Ham United

West Ham correspondent Dave Evans from Recorder Newspapers tells us what to expect from the Hammers at the London Stadium on Saturday...

How would you rate West Ham’s season?

The word that springs to mind is inconsistent. They have had some great wins this season against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs, but have followed that up with some dismal displays against the likes of Wolves, Cardiff City and AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup.

They made a terrible start, losing their first four games, and have suffered from a lot of long-term injuries, so to finish in mid-table is probably not a bad campaign.

It will be the first time Manuel Pellegrini has failed to qualify his team for Europe so there is definitely room for improvement next season.

pellegrini plays four at the back and likes his full-backs to get forward in a much more attacking style, and that has meant plenty of goals at both ends. 

dave evans
recorder newspapers

If performances have been up and down, which players have maintained high standards?

There have been a few players who have maintained a high quality throughout the campaign.

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been one of the signings of the season, considering he cost just £7million. He has been superb all season, made the position his own and in some games kept West Ham in with a chance.

Felipe Anderson has been delightful at times and scored both goals in the victory at Southampton earlier in the season.

Defender Fabian Balbuena has been an excellent steadying influence, and, but for an injury that ruled him out for a couple of months, he would have been a candidate for Hammer of the Year.

But perhaps the most consistent player this season has been young midfielder Declan Rice. Only 19 at the start of the campaign, he has been one of the first names on the teamsheet and made the defensive midfield role his own.

During the season he has also become and England international, while he has matched the like of Paul Pogba and Eric Dier in matches this season. So mature for his age.

England's defender Declan Rice runs with the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group A qualification football match between England and Czech Replublic at Wembley Stadium in London on March 22, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Declan Rice's form this season earned the midfielder a first England call-up

What needs to happen in the summer for West Ham to challenge for seventh, or even higher?

The club spent over £100million last summer, but because of injuries and inconsistency they were never quite able to fulfil their potential. The problem they are likely to face this summer is finding the replacements for the strikers they are set to lose.

Marko Arnautović, Javier Hernández and Lucas Pérez are all expected to leave, while Andy Carroll will not have his contract renewed.

Finding their replacements will be a huge task for Manuel Pellegrini, with at least three players needed to come in.

Maxi Gómez at Celta Vigo is expected to be one of them, but they will face stiff competition to sign other quality front men.

The Hammers tend to score and concede freely at home – is this a consequence of the style of play?

It has been a problem this season as Pellegrini has pointed out on several occasions, and also something of a surprise. It is a symptom of the attacking style that the manager likes to play. 

The previous season, under David Moyes, it was much more of a defensive formation with five at the back and that was borne out by much lower scores in their games.

Pellegrini plays four at the back and likes his full-backs to get forward in a much more attacking style, and that has meant plenty of goals at both ends.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 27:  Manuel Pellegrini during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and West Ham United at St Mary's Stadium on December 26, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Moorhouse/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Manuel Pellegrini took the West Ham hot seat last summer

What sort of game do you expect on Saturday?

It is difficult to predict what sort of game we will see on Saturday. The Saints are safe at last and will either play with plenty of freedom or with the flip-flops on. 

West Ham haven’t got much to play for either, but being the home side they will want to finish their London Stadium campaign on a high and get the win for their fans.

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