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A welcome point but some real cause for concern



By Hugh Southon

It’s always a lot easier to moan than give credit although the Brighton game threw up more than a couple of problems.

I missed the first half due to a family engagement but understand it was pretty ponderous to put it politely. However having seen the line up, alarm bells started to ring given Michail Antonio’s absence in particular.

And it probably came as no surprise that things looked more sensible and positive in the second half with his athleticism and pace clearly making a difference.

So problem No 1: Why wasn’t he used from the start?

Manu Lanzini returned to his best, set up a goal and could have done the same for Snoddy, but the reality is that with Wilshere anonymous for the second match on the run, and Fornals yet to adjust to PL football, there’s little pace in the middle of the park. Problem No 2.

At the back despite the manager brushing off Brighton’s second half dominance by declaring they had a couple of chances, the truth is they missed absolute sitters with our defence nowhere. That is problem No 3 in a big way.

We had two key players missing yesterday of course in Felipe Anderson – through whom so much of our play runs, and of course Seb Haller who has made a very decent start to his Hammers career.

It may well have been different had they been involved because, with Lanzini in outstanding second half form, we may well have had too much up front for Brighton.

However, that remains hypothetical and the one certain thing is that, defensively we continue to look in trouble.

Ogbonna was more than partly responsible for the first goal and looked uncertain throughout, Arthur Masuaku was  his usual weak self and Fredericks is not looking the answer at right back.

The latter problem may be easier to solve by recalling Zaba given that the only answer we have at left back appears to be drafting in Ben Johnson.

But for that to happen the manager needs to realise that his mini obsession with Masuaku needs to go on hold. However,  giving him a new long term deal  suggests that may not happen anytime soon.

With everybody fit there are goals in this team and I believe on that basis we will win more than we lose but if we are brutally honest with ourselves there remains some serious cause for concern.

Despite all yesterday’s problems however, let’s not deny that Brighton are a pacey and decent side and give thanks for the first point in difficult circumstances.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

9 comments on “A welcome point but some real cause for concern

  1. I disagree with your assessment of Arthur who I felt who continued his improvement in the left back role and was more effective than Cresswell, defensively as well as moving forward. In addition, while agreeing that Antonio was needed, not least because Chicarito is best used when partnering a second striker, I still don’t think he will start next saturday, because although Manuel’s post match comments indicate his growing preference for having two strikers, Haller will take that role.

  2. If you look at the replay of Brightons offside goal you can see the ponderous Agbonna more or less walking to the goal line in a poor attempt to close down the Brighton player in a display of laziness. Absolute poor defending and poor attitude.

  3. Let’s be brutally honest, if it wasn’t for some atrocious finishing by Brighton we would be talking about another hiding.
    Team selection & tactics are puzzling. Pellegrini doesn’t seem to know his best team or how to get the better of the opposition. There were some very poor individual performances yesterday & if it continues we are going to be in trouble.

  4. This nails down the major problems we face. Your final sentence could serve as a warning as well as a positive. Brighton do look decent but if they give us this much trouble so will many other sides. And there will always be some injury issues.I assume the club have not been able to give Pellegrini the money to cover the weaknesses you identify-if he is a top manager he must know they are there. Good managers who are at clubs with limited spending power have the ability to use what they have to creat decent teams. Pellegrini has had two decent transfer budgets & two pre seasons to do that. I reckon that if we have not seen real progress by the end of September it will be because the manager is not good enough. I hope he shows that he is.

    • With respect Hugh I’m not sure how you can call Brighton a good pacey side ..but with all the problems you have listed our so called season to be exited about is quickly going down the drain…yes I know it’s only 2 games but the fact is exactly the same problems we had last year have simply not been sorted at all ..like playing well for a full 90 min rather than the odd 15 min here and there plus we all say there are goals in this team but yesterday against one of the lesser teams we didn’t create hardly anything..
      Let’s hope it gets better but it’s seriously worrying

      • Are u disagreeing with echoing most of my thoughts on the basis of one phrase disagreement Hammerkip. As you point out it’s been TWO games so not sure it can be dubbed “quickly going down the drain”

  5. The cause for concern is quite justified in your veiw Hugh and I agree with the points, its quite obvious Mr Pellegrini is an attack attack attack minded coach? But as much as any other Hammers supporter l enjoy the “going forward ” bit , but the defending has to be addressed ? This league is unforgiving if you have a suspect defence, from the holding central midfielder to the back four which I.M.O our defensive side is at times very suspect? It needs to be addressed quite quickly or its another run up to Christmas ” looking behind our backs again”? I suggest we take on Nemanja Radoja as a free agent and we bin Sanchez to cover the holding position as well as Rice, Radoja a Serbian is only 26 ? As for the left back its the same old same old. Cresswell or Masuaku? To be quite honest they can be good or bad ? Moreover bad than good this HAS be addressed??? My answer as always is play 3 at the back centrally, it worked for Moyes with these 2 players ( Cresswell and Obiang)

  6. I think in Central midfield you need two ball winners, at the very least we need two who can pass also, teams have realised that if you overload Rice you can bypass him and he is the big threat to breaking up their attacks, teams also go out wide to avoid going through him. It’s early season, we are a point better than we could have been because VAR is our 12th man, something I expect to continue throughout the season. If you look at the stats from Tottenham v Spuds see again City had 4 times as many fouls as them yet only one booking. City game cannot be judged, this was an away game against effectively a new PL team (due to their manager and style change) I am sure MP will fix the defensive problems and improve us in possession.

  7. You may have a point about scoring more goals than we concede; but we are going to have to score an awful lot of goals in an awful lot of matches if we are going to win games ! I have constantly pointed out in my posts that our defence is weak. It is puny !. Not good enough for the Championship, let alone the Premier League.
    Until this is sorted out, we will not be any better placed than 10th to 15th.

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