During the last two fixtures, new strikers Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have stood out in particular, contributing heavily to entertaining performances and five goals for the side. The duo could well provide what the Hammers have been missing for some years now – an abundance of goals.
Both have shown true class in front of goal during those two games – none more so than Valencia’s long range strike against Hull City, and then Sakho’s beautiful chip over Simon Mignolet from an acute angle in Saturday’s match versus Liverpool. These superb strikes are hopefully indicators that both forwards are going to be well capable of contributing a significant amount of goals for West Ham over the coming season.
Aside from the goals, the work rate of the pair has also impressed me a lot. They both look hungry for the fight, showing great energy in closing down opponents and attempting to win the ball back for their side. Then constantly looking to find space in dangerous positions when West Ham are in possession, barely pausing for a moment – particularly in that blistering first half display against Liverpool.
The partnership of Valencia and Sakho may still take some time to gel, and I think we will see more actual link up between the two new boys the more matches they play together. Yet I’m sure I speak for most West Ham fans when I say how refreshing it is to see that we now have two strikers who look as though they relish playing together up front.
Sakho has been the pick of the two for me so far, looking like a real out and out centre-forward, seeking to get on the end of crosses and through balls, as well as being able to hold the ball up well. Valencia on the other hand likes to drift a little more, and appears to have a fantastic long range shot on him, whilst also making bursting runs in support of Sakho. It’s very early days, but I think each can complement the others style.
It was due to these kinds of qualities that especially against Liverpool, the pair occupied the back line brilliantly, which in turn enabled space for the likes of Stewart Downing and Cheikhou Kouyate to join in with the attack. The end result was that the Hammers looked far more threatening and potent going forward than they have done for a very long time.
It is still early days of course, and we must try and not get too carried away, as opposition teams will start to notice the way in which both Sakho and Valencia play, and make plans to counter them. But the energy, movement and quality of the pair have the potential to net around 25 goals between them this season, which, if achieved, could see the Hammers even competing for a Europa League place.