After West Ham’s disappointing performance against Chelsea last night, I was left wondering what went wrong.
Not having the likes of Ogbonna, Payet and Cresswell starting would have helped although the debutant Arthur Masuaku was the most impressive of all the new signings. Playing a winger at right back continues to be a blatant issue and Eden Hazard exploited Michail Antonio’s positioning and awareness.
James Collins was West Ham’s man of the match and I think that is fair, but Winston Reid was poor in yesterday’s game. Centre back pairings are crucial and players need to build up partnerships. When all defenders are fit, the pairing is Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna, however I don’t think they complement each other. In the 2015/2016 campaign, Reid was injured for an extended period of time and I thought Collins and Ogbonna worked very well together.
Winston Reid has been a great servant to the club but I’m not convinced he is a defender to take the club forward. Reid occasionally plays very well, take his performance at the Etihad last season as an example, although more often than not his positioning is poor and he is uncomfortable in possession.
At Stamford Bridge last night he struggled to make any accurate passes when going forward with the ball, often the New Zealander resorts to long balls up to Carroll who was isolated all game. When in possession of the ball, all Reid offers is a pass across to a full back or the other centre back or a long and hopeful ball up to a forward. I never have any confidence in Reid to actually pass the ball forward and find a player, which is very frustrating when like last night, the team were struggling to keep the ball.
Angelo Ogbonna took a while to adapt to English football last season, however when he did, he became far and away the best centre back at the club. Maybe Reid’s partnership with Ogbonna remains a work in progress but nobody can deny the latter often looked more assured next to Collins. The Italian international offers a great physical presence but his distribution is also very impressive.
My first choice centre back pairing for the foreseeable future would be Collins and Ogbonna but Bilic obviously likes Reid more than Collins. The emerging Reece Oxford and Reece Burke both look to be exciting prospects and will hopefully be West Ham’s centre back pairing for years to come. However, it would come as no surprise to me if Oxford was starting league games towards the end of the season alongside Ogbonna. Reece Oxford has highlighted his abilities before and looks to be a confident and composed footballer, similarly Bilic has rejected loan offers for Burke, thus suggesting that he will feature at some point.
Many fans have been concerned with attackers in the transfer window and rightly so, however the defence could be our downfall especially if Antonio is at right back and Reid continues with lacklustre performances. The defence will play a massive part in the team’s league and European finish this season, I just hope Bilic’s selection is smart and he puts his confidence in consistent performers such as Collins and Oxford.