It would be wrong to say that West Ham are on the way back up, but it might be fair to say that there are green shoots of recovery about to poke through as David Moyes appears to be steadying the ship a little bit.
After an abject performance away to Watford, Moyes’ first home game in charge at the east London club ended in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City, themselves struggling this season. It will be the midweek clash with Everton which will probably tell us more, however: after that game, at least one of those two clubs will be in dire straits.
But perhaps what was most important about the Leicester game from a West Ham perspective was the fighting spirit and attitude of the players. There seems to have been a little bit of a lift for a few of those who weren’t performing under Slaven Bilic, even if it’s too early to tell if that will be enough to see actual good form shine through.
Take, for example, the performance of Cheikhou Kouyate, West Ham’s goalscorer on Friday night.
Aside from his goal, the Senegalese midfielder was direct and he was effective. He won eight aerial duels, more than any other player on the pitch apart from Andy Carroll, with whom he was level. That’s a seriously impressive feat when you think about how good the West Ham striker is in the air.
And yet, when it comes to Kouyate, five of those eight duel wins came in defensive situations, showing the box-to-box nature of his performance. Indeed, he also made three tackles in addition to that. Only Pablo Zabaleta made more for West Ham.
But despite the Action Man display, the Senegalese international attempted just 22 passes, completing 18. That shows that he wasn’t overly involved in the game when the Hammers were in possession, making his impacts at more critical moments in the game rather than being part of the build-up play. But it also shows that he rarely wasted the ball when he got it, too.
The limitations that West Ham have in the centre of the pitch have been evident all season, as midfield battles have been lost and the defence has seen little protection. On Friday night against Leicester, however, there might have been evidence of a little bit of an improvement. And the all-action performance of Cheikhou Kouyate might well show that Moyes’ side will favour impact and effectiveness over self-expression in the midfield areas.