West Ham United‘s last game against Burnley highlighted a few differences between where they are this season and where they were last season. For anyone that saw the game it was clear to see that the Hammers rode their luck at times and didn’t perhaps play to a very good standard -had they been up against better opposition, things might have turned out very differently.
Lucky crossbar deflections aside, it is the way in which West Ham went about winning the game that made the difference compared to last season, where they would no doubt have ended up losing or drawing the same game.
On the whole, their performances this season have seen a massive improvement with a more attacking style of play to their game alongside the traditional West Ham “on the floor” passing which is quite pleasing to the fans. However their performance on Saturday (especially in the first half) was quite poor and it left them vulnerable against a Burnley side that were still searching for their first Premier League victory of the season.
The first thing that became apparent from West Ham last Saturday, and on several occasions so far this season, was the way they set out their stall. Rather than turning up to an away game with a view of keeping a clean sheet at all costs and playing for the point, Sam Allardyce told his team to take the initiative and attack, to try and actually win the game.
It is this winning mentality that has had the biggest impact on the player’s confidence and psychological set up on the whole -they are not playing with fear of losing, rather they are doing what ever it takes to secure three points.
The first thing that becomes evident with this new approach is less clean sheets and more goals scored on average when compared to last season. A big reason for West Ham finding themselves in trouble in the last campaign was the amount of games that were drawn that could, and probably should, have been victories. Because Allardyce was so hell-bent on a defensive record to be proud of and sitting back to ensure that a point is salvaged from a game, it saw the Hammers failing to do much at the other end of the pitch in the amount of goals they scored.
This time around however, seeing as they now have the right type of players to conduct a game in the traditional attacking and entertaining fashion- added to the ability to score goals -they have a more relaxed approach to wanting that clean sheet and focus more on actually going out and out-scoring the opposition. The defensive philosophy has not been entirely lost, so much as integrated in their attacking style of play.
The biggest difference that was on show in their last match against Burnley was their reaction to Sean Dyche’s side pegging West Ham back to 2-1.Last season that would have had a 2-2 draw written all over it, the players would have sat back and tried in vein to defend a one goal lead with most of the second half remaining and would have inevitably crumbled under the pressure, leaving the fans frustrated while Allardyce satisfied.
However that was not the case this time around. West Ham went on the attack once more to find a third goal, which they ended up scoring via Carlton Cole, and sealed the three points for Allardyce’s men.
There is a big lack of fear in everything West Ham do at present, which has given everyone at the club a big confidence boost and an all important winning mentality. They will not give up the ghost even when they are having a bad day at the office, they will continue to attack well and make sure they do everything possible to win the game. Allardyce has confidence in his strikers and they have talented wing backs in Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Creswell who are providing a lot more attacking flair down the wings than the Hammers have been used to of late. West Ham are no longer content with just defending and earning a point.
All of this combined is giving West Ham the cutting edge over last season’s dismal showing and it is why they are winning games like the one at Turf Moor rather than losing or drawing them.