This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Liverpool player Phil Thompson has pointed to West Ham when asked which club has been the biggest surprise so far this season.
The pundit, who often features on Sky Sports News’ Soccer Saturday, was full of praise for the Hammers having been impressed by their early season form, which has resulted in just two defeats from eight games.
In particular, he lauded the attacking options and likened them to Jurgen Klopp’s side when they had Philippe Coutinho, whilst also targeting Declan Rice and Mark Noble as the subject of his admiration.
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Speaking to SportingLife, he said: “I really like the forward line if they can keep them fit. Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko are all threatening, and then you have to take into account Manuel Lanzini.
“It takes you back to Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho – West Ham have Lanzini as their fourth, just like Liverpool did. It is an attacking and potent side.”
The Hammers’ enjoyed a six-game unbeaten run prior to defeat against Crystal Palace, which included what Thompson termed “impressive results”, perhaps thinking of the points gained against Manchester United and away at Bournemouth.
Comparisons to the Reds’ attack is high praise indeed but each of West Ham’s front four, aside from Lanzini, has shown top form at times this season.
Haller, Anderson and Yarmolenko have seven goals and five assists between them, and if Pellegrini can get the Argentine performing to his best level then the Hammers could build on a solid start.
He has shown a similarity with Coutinho through his 2.4 key passes per league game this season and has achieved a WhoScored rating of seven or more in the three years where he has made more than 10 Premier League appearances.
As well as that, he always makes good use of the ball, never falling below a pass accuracy of 87% since joining the Irons, so if he can turn that quality into more goals and assists then the Irons could even have realistic aims of qualifying for Europe.
The aim for Pellegrini will likely be consistency from now on, to ensure it isn’t a surprise that his side are doing well. Lanzini could be vital in achieving that goal, and if he can stay fit his history suggests he will contribute directly to ten goals a season.