This has without doubt been one of the best ever seasons in the Premier League for West Ham United.
Sitting in fifth place, just a point behind Manchester City and two clear of Manchester United, it is an extraordinary achievement when you consider the club bought so many new players last summer, brought in a new manager and, with him, came a new style of play.
Many might have considered that the East End club would be lucky to be mid-table, whilst the Chairmen wanted top ten. With huge scalps taken already this season, mainly away from the Boleyn Ground, there are a few unsung Hammers heroes in the team, but two or three that claim the limelight on a weekly basis – and rightly so.
But when it comes to football, there is always one thing that sets you apart from the others and that is goals.
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But at West Ham this year, it hasn’t been the strikers that have made a name for themselves. At the moment, the clubs top scorer is Dimitri Payet with ten goals, followed by Antonio on nine.
They have scored 45 Premier League goals scored so far, but only 18 have come from the recognised strikers – Valencia, Carroll, Sakho, Emenike and the departed Zarate. It’s well publicised that West Ham have had their injury problems, so it’s just as well that the goals have been coming from all corners of their team.
It makes you wonder how many the club would have by now had they had a fit set of strikers consistently this term.
On social media platforms and in the press, we have all been reminded of the Hammers’ desire to spend £20m on a striker capable of scoring 20 goals a season. That may sound alot, but will probably turn out to be less than required, as any striker of any note will be chased by many and so the price increases.
There have been a selection of no-hopers linked to West Ham in the press, but when you consider that none of them are 20 goal a season strikers, all of them are on wages higher than Payet, and bearing in mind Financial Fair Play, it just does not appear feasible.
Three names are being regularly mentioned – Christian Benteke, Wilfried Bony and Marseilles’ Michy Batshuayi, who agreed a new contract in France over the last couple of days. Do they really want to buy Benteke?
Slaven Bilic has signed some decent players and seems to have made them a whole lot better, so it’s not wrong to consider that any of the miss-firing strikers currently in the Premier League and you could include Swansea’s Andre Ayew, who might develop into a better player. At the moment, most Hammers fans wouldn’t touch Bony, Benteke and Ayew with a 20 foot barge pole, let alone a ten foot one.
Like every other team in the Premier League, West Ham want a proven goalscorer and there really aren’t many to go around in today’s market. Anyone of the highest standard will already play for a top team, be playing in the Champions League and will command a high salary and a fee to go with it. With respect to the men in claret and blue, they are probably not quite there yet when talking of star names, but they soon will be.
In the summer, there will be changes. Emenike impresses with his pace, but only has two cup goals so far, which means that Sakho is a cert to stay as he fits the system and scores goals, but what happens to Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia?
Who will pay Carroll’s high wages, who will take him with his terrible injury record? Although he has only scored three goals this season, he is a presence and does cause chaos in the box, but as a striker on £85,000-a-week, you do require a bit more than that really.
There are always stories and they will go on until the transfer window closes. Players are always being linked with clubs at this time of the year, but fans should concentrate on the here and now rather than the speculation.
West Ham have been very fortunate that they haven’t had to rely on their strikers, but come the summer, expect the bell to ring out the changes.