At the time of writing this article, West Ham United are due to play Newcastle United at St James’ Park. It’s the first away game of the season, and the scene of one of our rare away wins last season, a Kevin Nolan strike earning a 1-0 win against the Geordies.
I’m optimistic for this game, following a disruptive week for Alan Pardew’s men. A 4-0 defeat at Manchester City on Monday was the tip of the iceberg, their plans disrupted by a £10m bid from Arsenal for star midfielder, Yohan Cabaye. Although optimistic about Saturday’s game, I do have concerns about how Sam Allardyce is going to get the best out of his squad away from Upton Park.
The one thing I moaned about the most last season, from our away performances, was a distinct lack of pace within the squad, meaning counter attacks were difficult. With Andy Carroll, Joe Cole, Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble part of the attacking 6 players, they are hardly known for their speed are they? Mohamed Diame and Matt Jarvis were always our best outlets, but home teams knew this, and made sure these two were not given any space. It’s also fair to say that Diame did not really play as well as he did in our home games. So how do we improve this away form?
It will be interesting to see how we play with Modibo Maiga up top. He certainly has a bit of pace, and that means he can get in behind defences. I hope that we can get support around him, so that he’s not isolated. In all honesty, we know that as soon as Carroll is fit again, that Maiga will be dropped, which will be a shame, especially if he finds some form. I also think that Stewart Downing could also be key to our away formation. When Downing came on against Cardiff, it was clear he had lots of pace to burn. We could certainly do with that pace in order to mount serious counter attacks. However, this would mean either Cole or Jarvis would be dropped – Jarvis being another source of pace.
Finally, Sam Allardyce will have to set up his teams to go and win some of the away games. No doubt games vs Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City means we do have to be cautious, but I want to see us go for the win when playing the clubs who will make up the bottom half of the table. Allardyce is certainly taking the club in the right direction. Our home form was excellent last season, if we can add some better away results to it, then there’s no stopping us!
COME ON YOU IRONS!!
By Chelmo Hammer
Follow me on Twitter: @ChelmoHammer