West Ham’s objectives this season were simple. Score more goals and play more attractive football.
To a certain degree, in the first eight games in all competitions, Sam Allardyce has achieved this. The Hammers are currently the dizzy heights of 7th in the Premier League table and are scoring more goals thanks to the likes of newcomers Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho as well as the appointment of Teddy Sheringham as a striker coach.
To go with the excellent signings of striker Valencia and Sakho, Allardyce gaffer pulled off a last minute loan deal to bring former Arsenal defensive midfielder Alex Song to the Boleyn Ground from Spanish giants FC Barcelona. With Song and fellow new recruit Cheickhou Kouyate in the centre of the park for West Ham, it seems that preparations for the much anticipated move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016 are already being manufactured in terms of player recruitment.
However, at the turn of the year, something that all clubs detest will be coming sooner rather than later. The 2015 African Cup of Nations, which will be held in Morocco, will take place in January. The likes of Cameroon and Senegal will be participating in Africa’s most coveted football tournament. Sadly, this means the likes of Song, Sakho and Kouyate will be gone for a lengthy spell in order to take up their duties with their respective countries.
This will be a huge blow for the Upton Park outfit. The valuable experience of Song is vital for the Hammers in order to maintain their realistic aim of a top ten finish. Playing for the likes of Arsenal and FC Barcelona means that Song has the quality of the highest calibre, which West Ham cannot afford to miss. In the emphatic home win against Liverpool, Song controlled the midfield like a general, and it was surprising he was substituted. Another midfielder who was exceptional against Brendan Rodgers’ side was Kouyate. Ever since his arrival from Belgian outfit Anderlecht for £7million, the Senegalese’s work rate is the main reason why the Hammers offloaded Mohammed Diame to fellow Premier League club Hull City.
Another signing that has gone under the Premier League radar is Diafra Sakho. The £4million capture from French Ligue 1 outfit FC Metz has been a surprising hit in East London, scoring five goals in his first five starts for his new club. Skilful, energetic and good in the air, it looks as though club-record signing Andy Carroll will find it hard to get back into the first team when he returns from his ankle injury in December.
Losing these three vital players will no doubt weaken the Hammers. However, January’s fixtures for the Hammers are all winnable games, with the likes of West Brom and Swansea being teams West Ham have more than enough about them to emerge will all three points.
But Allardyce may be forced to dip back into the transfer market in order to replace those players set to be away on international duty in the new year. How he goes about that could be vital to the where West Ham end the season. If he’s as shrewd as he was in the summer then he could be on the verge of steering the Hammers in to the Europa League. If not, he could be facing another nervy end to a Premier League campaign.
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