I didn’t write anything about these games as they happened because they were either midweek or FA Cup games against significantly weaker opposition, so I just didn’t quite get round to it, but thought I’d do a little summary of my thoughts on them and the future. They were 3 wins, 2 of them very comfortable (I don’t care that Palace finished 3–2, it was a comfortable win) and 1 of them fairly comfortable.
We conceded 3 goals in the 3 games, but once again our defence was in reality fairly rock solid. The three goals were:
I’m going to structure this a bit differently this week — I’m still figuring out what I want this to be and why I’m writing it.
I think that was our best XI with Masuaku out — the front four combines well, with Antonio’s providing a focal point but also happy to make runs and knitting the team together. He’s then supported by Bowen providing runs from deep, Fornals nominally on the left but drifting in, and Benrahma everywhere linking the whole thing up. It worked well, and was a fairly comfortable win (even if it was only…
Moyes’ lineup for this game was more attacking. Although were four changes from the Southampton game, only one wasn’t like-for-like, with Benrahma coming in for Lanzini. Even this change could be described as a CAM for a CAM, but Lanzini seems to drop deeper and be less adept at ball carrying, while Benrahma is much happier to play across the attacking band and have the ball at his feet. He’s also happier to take a risk and lose the ball, but that’s a pay off you have to accept in my opinion.
The other changes were either due…
This was a less obviously terrible lineup, except for the slightly confusing inclusion of Dawson over Diop — apparently he’d been good in training, but it’s slightly concerning that we’re starting a 30 year old veteran over a 23 year old that we signed for around £20m.
It looked like a move away from the 343 (kind of, it’s a bit lopsided down the left normally) we usually play to a much more standard 4231 or 4141, with Fornals drifting left, Lanzini as CAM and Yarmolenko on the right, in for Johnson, Noble and Bowen.
As soon as the lineups were announced, it was fairly obvious what would happen, as shown pretty clearly by Tom here:
West Ham, playing five defenders and three central midfielders, would struggle to create anything. Most of the season, West Ham have relied on crossing — either in open play or via set pieces. The main way West Ham do this is down the left flank, with Masuaku, Cresswell & Fornals combining. Replacing Masuaku with a 20 year old right back and Fornals with a 33 year old who moves like a 43 year old was always going…