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The man West Ham have needed for a decade!

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So a great performance by West Ham at Selhurst Park on Saturday culminated in a very convincing 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace. It was the first time in a while that I have seen the Hammers boss a game in that manner – more or less dominating the midfield area for the entire 90 minutes, with Cheikhou Kouyate already starting to live up to his billing as the new Patrick Vieria. In fact the whole team played very well, but it was the performance of Mauro Zarate on his debut that particularly caught my eye, as I felt it was he who really made the difference in the final third, playing a role that hasn’t been filled properly for some time for the Hammers, which was crucial in turning West Ham’s dominance into chances and goals.

I must confess that I wasn’t sure what to expect from Zarate having never seen him play before his move to Upton Park earlier this summer, but his performance against Palace really excited me, especially in the first half. Of course this assessment has to be tempered by the fact that it is only his first match in a claret and blue shirt, and that he was up against a poor Palace side, clearly still disorientated by the recent departure of their manager Tony Pulis. Yet Zarate, filling the place of the injured captain Kevin Nolan, provided creativity in the attacking midfield position that hasn’t really been seen for some years at West Ham.

Given a free role in behind Carlton Cole, Zarate provided the perfect link between midfield and attack, which made things happen. Too often in the last few seasons under Sam Allardyce, the main route to goal scoring opportunities would be crosses from the wings. This is all well and good, but with no real attacking threat through the middle of the pitch, too often teams would know exactly how to defend against this rather obvious tactic. But on Saturday Palace found a new threat that they probably weren’t prepared to face.

Zarate kept popping up in various positions inbetween the Palace midfield and defence, constantly creating space and making himself available for the ball. Once in possession he showed that he wasn’t afraid of running at the Palace back four, and was capable of making intricate passes for team-mates in and around the Eagles penalty area, who ran forward in numbers in support. This caused the home side all sorts of problems, who simply could not cope with the Argentine’s movement. With the Palace defence pre-occupied with the runs and dribbles of Zarate, space was also created for other attacking players, like Stewart Downing and Ricardo Vaz Te to exploit. Not to mention the marauding runs forward of Kouyate, who was pretty much everywhere on the pitch.

The icing on the cake for Zarate’s performance was his goal, which was a quite exquisite volley from outside of the penalty area, which dipped and swerved into the corner of the net. For me, though, it was his all round impact which helped make West Ham look so much more potent going forward. Again, it is far too early to make definitive judgements, but Zarate, along with other new signings Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell look as though they could be key in pushing the Hammers forward this season, both in terms of performances and results. I hope he can continue in this vein.

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9 comments
  • Dr barkus says:

    Well done sam,you have have got my team to entertain for 90 mins.No chance of zarate being just another bench warmer,great performance from him real argie passion that will inspire all the new signings,and the fans.sam has had a lot of stick of late,looks like he can redeem himself with the fans with perfomances like yesterday-early days but at least there is optimism amongst the fans.

    • notanyoldiron says:

      Dr B, like you, I was delighted by yesterday’s result and performance. But thank’s Sam? Sam was forced into playing Zarate. It wasn’t a touch of genius, or part of a Sam master plan. If Nolan had been been fit, he’d have started. We ALL know that. And that would have meant a different game altogether. I’m not having a downer on Allardyce, just being realistic.

  • Conk says:

    Yes thanks to Sam allardyce we now have a much better squad. I can’t remember the last time I felt so optimistic as a west ham supporter. Sam backed by the owners has made some excellent new signings this year. Kouyate zarate and cresswell all look very useful.

    • Brian McFlipper says:

      If Nolan hadn’t been injured he would have played him, lets not fool ourselves !!! It was luck that the excellent Zarate found a place in the team. Allardyce was virtually FORCED to improve things !!!

  • philtheiron says:

    The questions about BS’s tactics and team selection fall largely into two well defined sides, so I’m not getting into that one!
    Instead I would like to concentrate on the positives of the palace game and there were many!

    It was great to see a west ham side pass the ball and take it to the opposition!
    Zarate, kouyate, noble, cresswell and downing were class!

    And I can’t wait untill we see more of Valencia Diame and jenkinson. The ingredients are all there for a force in the making! COYI!

  • Tom Tiago says:

    Yes zarate played well.. And our are team entertained for the first time in a long while.. BUT it was against a palace side In great turmoil… Let’s not get too carried away.. It was 1 game… I really do hope he could hit the legendary stature of my idol Paulo but let’s all wait and judge our new attacking prowess later In the season.

  • realist says:

    Excellent news. Nolan injured for six weeks. Cole hopefully to Bournemouth.

  • Jimmy says:

    Paulo Wanchope is your idol? Or did you mean PAOLO Di Canio? With both Valencia and Sakho yet to feature it’ll be interesting to see if we continue to play the same way. Especially now that Nolan has fractured his shoulder. It could just be the best thing for us…

  • hammersmith says:

    There’s much to be pleased about with our new signings and our apparent new style of play. Who do we thank for this? BS? the owners? Nolan’s injury? maybe a combination of all of these but let’s not forget the contribution of us, the fans. Take yourselves back to the Peterborough away game – ‘we play on the floor’ and home to Hull last season when, despite a victory, the fans expressed their frustration at the way we played.

    The owners couldn’t fail to realise the natives weren’t happy and to give credit where it’s due, they’ve acted upon it. Had we all shown the totally blinkered positive attitude demanded by many and backed the Manager regardless, do you really think the winds of change would have blown so strongly during the summer months.

    I wouldn’t wish an injury on any player but this really will be the acid test for Sam if we continue to do well and Nolan makes a full recovery…until then, onwards and upwards. COYI

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