It’s no secret that since West Ham United’s return to the Premier League, Sam Allardyce’s men have suffered with a little bit of travel sickness. In the Championship, West Ham set a new club record with the amount of away wins they accumulated. But since their return to the big time, they have only registered 3 away wins – QPR, Newcastle United and Stoke City.
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So what is causing the problems away from home? Well, there is a combination of things in my opinion. Lack of goals is probably one of the main reasons. 9 goals in 15 away games is an extremely poor return, and has been a big issue all season.
The strikers we have at the club have hardly set the league alight with their goal scoring prowess. But then does that fall onto the poor performances of our so called ‘creative’ players. Matt Jarvis is just starting to hit a bit of form for the Hammers, and with Joe Cole only joining us in January, I’m hoping that they will finish the season strongly. But the likes of Matt Taylor and Ricardo Vaz Te have been terrible this season, and nowhere near the form they had last season.
With the strikers and creative players not scoring, this now adds pressure to the midfield. Kevin Nolan started the season well, but drifted off towards Christmas, and barring a brief glimpse of his old self away at Fulham, the goals have dried up for our attacking midfielder. Mohamed Diame and Noble are hardly goal scoring midfielders either.
The midfield not only have the pressure of trying to score the goals our attacking players are not scoring, but they are also there to try and protect the defence who appear to have buckled under the pressure of the attackers not scoring any goals. Pressure is even higher on them to keep a clean sheet, so as not to lose a goal. If we concede, the chances are we will lose the match. Newcastle and Stoke away, we kept clean sheets – and we won the game. QPR away, we scored two early goals, and we won the game. We kept a clean sheet at Norwich and West Brom, and we picked up points.
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Stats reveal that Jussi Jaaskelainen has had to make more saves then any goalkeepers in the top divisions of England, Spain, Italy and Germany. This suggests the defence are not doing their job; they can’t do their job as the midfield are not doing theirs, and they have extra pressure because the attackers aren’t doing their job. This ripple effect needs to stop. But you can only be as good as the players in your squad. Big Sam has tinkered with the formation a couple of times, the standard 4-5-1 and he has also used a 5-4-1 formation also, but this doesn’t seem to have worked, in fact, the away performance at Aston Villa was one of the worst (Sunderland being the worst of the lot!).
The important ingredient to an away win, is getting the defence right first – keep a clean sheet, and it becomes easier to get an away win if you can snatch a goal, this is something we have learnt with our successes this season.
COME ON YOU IRONS!!
By Chelmo Hammer
Follow me on Twitter: @ChelmoHammer
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