Bad Habits: How Pellegrini can address West Ham’s knack of conceding late

A 76th minute Wilfried Zaha goal was enough to earn Crystal Palace a point against West Ham United last time out. The Palace attacker’s strike also marked the 13th time the Hammers have conceded in the final 15 minutes of a Premier League match this season, as per Transfermarkt. Only Fulham and Burnley, with 15 and 14 respectively, have been breached in the final 15 minutes more often.

Irons boss Manuel Pellegrini must address this recurring issue before it costs his side any more points this season.

Identifying the problem

Before Pellegrini can fix this problem though, he must find its cause. 

West Ham’s problem is that, when they’re defending a lead, they allow themselves to be pushed too far back. By sitting so deep, the Hammers concede so much territory that they offer no threat on the counter-attack, and as such, the pressure on their own defence just builds and builds.

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Eventually, this pressure takes its toll and the east London outfit’s defence lets something through. They must now break this habit, or it will continue to prove their undoing.

Finding the solution

In the final 15 minutes of games, especially when they’re already ahead, West Ham must maintain a measure of attacking intent. The defence cannot drop too deep, as they will invariably drag the midfield and attacking contingents backwards with them.

Instead, for these final exchanges, the Irons must become more aggressive. More intense pressing of the opposition for the final quarter of an hour should become part of Pellegrini’s game-plan.

What’s more, by being more assertive and on the front-foot in these closing moments, the Hammers stand a better chance of scoring themselves, thereby all but putting the result beyond doubt.

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