West Ham United will be hoping to return to winning ways once Premier League action resumes this weekend, with the Hammers currently languishing in the relegation zone having picked up just four points from their opening seven games.
That measly return ensures it is the club’s joint-worst start to a top-flight campaign since the 2016/17 season, while only during the 1973/74 season have the east Londoners registered fewer points (three) at the same stage.
The club’s most recent meeting came in familiar surroundings for David Moyes at Goodison Park, with the former Everton boss seeing his old side run out 1-0 winners courtesy of a Neal Maupay stunner, ensuring that the visitors have now lost eight of their last ten league away games.
Thankfully, the London Stadium outfit will be on home soil against Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend, with the encounter offering the chance to leapfrog Bruno Lage’s men and move out of the drop zone.
To ensure victory, Moyes may well need to make alterations from a side that has been so distinctly underwhelming in recent weeks, with one notable casualty surely that of the struggling Tomas Soucek, with the Czech Republic international having come under fire so far this term.
The 27-year-old has started all seven league games so far this term alongside skipper Declan Rice, although has scored just once and failed to register a single assist, with his tepid form having seen him branded “awful” by journalist Alan Rzepa.
Such worrying displays were also evident last term for the £67k-per-week colossus, as he has struggled both in and out of possession over the past year, notably ranking in just the bottom 18% for pass completion among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues, as well as only in the bottom 35% for tackles made.
While he remains a threat in the air due to his towering 6 foot 4 frame – ranking in the top 2% for aerial duels won – the £40.5m-rated man seemingly has little else going for him at present, following a summer which had brought uncertainty over his future amid a reported breakdown in contract negotiations.
Despite his woes, the 52-cap brute remains a regular fixture of the side due to the potential lack of a genuine alternative – with the club having missed out on Amadou Onana over the summer for instance – with journalist Paul Brown perhaps rightly suggesting that it is a “bit too cosy and safe for him.”
Although not a high-profile name, there is a clear replacement for Soucek in the Hammers ranks in the form of Flynn Downes, with it time to hand the boyhood fan a start in the league with the 23-year-old having largely been on the periphery since his £12m move from Swansea City.
The youngster had made just a solitary substitute appearance in the league thus far this term, while he’s featured in three of the Europa Conference League games to date – including qualifiers – albeit having only started one of those.
It could potentially be another case where such a “special” talent – as lauded by one source – is signed by Moyes only to then be simply resigned to the bench, with that having been the case for loanee Alex Kral last term who was bizarrely overlooked for effectively the entire season.
In the case of Downes, the Englishman may not offer the same imposing presence in midfield as that of Soucek, although he is seemingly far more comfortable in possession, having recorded a pass accuracy of 93% in 37 games in the Championship last term, in contrast to his current teammate who had a pass accuracy of just 77% during the 2021/22 campaign.
With the latter man having also underwhelmed for his country against Portugal at the weekend – being branded ‘useless’ by the Czech media – it could well be an ideal time for the new signing to finally get his first league start for the club against Wolves on Saturday evening.