This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Ham have hit a sticky patch and that is partly due to their attacking play being too one dimensional.
The Hammers have had to rely on forward players such as Sebastien Haller, Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson this season, and when they underperform a poor result often follows.
Whilst there is little Manuel Pellegrini can do to change things in personnel – due to a lack of striking options – there is more he can do on the training ground to give his side a chance of picking up points even when not playing well.
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One method is set-pieces, an area that has been a weakness of the Hammers since the Chilean came in, and a reason behind their poor return of 11 goals in nine league games.
Teams like Liverpool and Man City are praised for their attacking play, yet set-pieces are a huge factor in their success with both sides scoring four goals via that method in 2019/20.
By comparison, West Ham have scored the same amount as they have conceded – two. It was much the same last term, conceding 14 in the league from set-pieces whilst only scoring 11, and therefore it is an area which needs addressing for the East London outfit.
West Ham have useful dead-ball specialists such as Anderson and Aaron Cresswell, so there is no excuse why they can’t be amongst the best at set-pieces in the league.
Eddie Howe has developed an effective strategy at Bournemouth using a dummy system which pulls defenders out of position, and that is reflected in their six goals this season, which makes them the top scorers in that department.
Pellegrini has to focus on improving in that area, and if he does so it could equate to points.
In recent games against Everton and Crystal Palace the Hammers have struggled to break down the opposition due to a lack of creativity and support for Haller, who only had one shot on target against Everton, and two against the Eagles.
Interestingly, their best chance against the Toffees came via a corner, and they could have earned an undeserved draw but for a brilliant Jordan Pickford save, and that highlights the usefulness of a good delivery.
Haller has shown his effectiveness in and around the six-yard box with his four league goals, and his poaching instinct could come alive if they provide him with adequate service, so it is certainly an attacking element the team is currently missing out on.