Under Slaven Bilić, West Ham had an average 2016/17 season, finishing 11th, though only one point from 8th. Bilić’s men had three horrible spells where they went 5 games without picking up a single point. Fortunately, the Hammers have brought in reinforcements which should help them achieve a higher position in the league.
Last season, the primary issue was consistency. Sometimes, the strikers couldn’t score, and other times, the defence was far too susceptible to conceding. Despite having quality players, they couldn’t click. Out of 38 games in the league, The Hammers went 10 without scoring a single goal, and 11 games conceding 3 or more goals. Some of these games were definitely ones they were expected to win, such as the 3-2 loss to Bournemouth, and the 4-2 loss to West Brom.
Will they be able to sharpen up this season?
Luckily for Bilić, the Hammers haven’t lost any key players so far this season except Darren Randolph, who has been replaced already. It looks like they’ll start the premier league with their squad intact. The players who left who had significant game time other than Randolph are Ashley Fletcher, who played 20 games and scored 1 goal and Havard Nordtveit who played 21 games and also scored 1 goal.
It seems that West Ham come into the new season stronger than they found themselves last season.
CONFIRMED TRANSFERS (AS OF 7/8/17) ACCORDING TO TRANSFERMARKT
- Ashley Fletcher (age 24) to Middlesbrough– £6.57m permanent move
- Havard Nordtveit (27) to Hoffenheim – £6.3m permanent move
- Darren Randolph (30) to Middlesbrough – £5.04m permanent move
- Stephen Hendrie (22) to Southend United – Free transfer
- Raphael Speigel (24) to Boavista – Free transfer
- Enner Valencia (27) to Tigres – Undisclosed fee
- Josh Cullen (21) to Bolton – Laon
- Reece Oxford (18) to Borussia M’gladbach – Loan
- Reece Burke (20) to Bolton – Loan
- Sam Westley (23) – Free agency
- Álvaro Arbeloa (34) – Retired
- Jonathan Calleri (23) to Maldonado – End of loan
- Gokhan Tore (25) to Besiktas – End of loan
So far, West Ham have recruited well in this transfer window. In attack, where they struggled last season at times, they’ve brought in 2 high quality players. Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic.
After leaving Manchester United in 2015, Javier Hernandez moved to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. In his time there he played 76 games scoring an impressive 39 and assisting 9 others. He is also Mexico’s all-time top scorer with 48 goals in 96 games. For £16m, it’s clear West Ham have got themselves a proven clinical goalscorer. Not only that, but he has spent time in Premier League already and should need no time to adapt either. This signing is a great piece of business from the Hammers.
In addition to Hernandez, West Ham have bought Stoke City’s Arnautovic. The 6’4″ tall winger is a dynamic player who can fill any role across the front line. In 145 games for Stoke, he provided 32 assists and 26 goals, an impressive tally considering he played in a team renowned for its defensive play. He too is an experienced international, with 62 caps for Austria. For £20m, he has the potential to be a star player.
At the back, the Hammers have acquired two Manchester City players. In right back, they have picked up the veteran Pablo Zabaleta. His wealth of knowledge will surely help shore up the backline. While he may not be good enough for a title challenging side anymore, he is a great signing for a team looking to make Europa League spots. In between the sticks, another experienced player, Joe Hart, has arrived on loan from Manchester City. Hart had a spell on loan last season at Torino in Serie A, where he did OK with a mediocre defence in front of him. Now he’s back in England, and West Ham will be hopeful that he can regain his old form and steady the ship in East London.
All in all, a positive transfer window for West Ham, good players signed for good prices, and so far they’ve managed to hold on to their key players.
confirmed transfers in (as of 7/8/17) according to transfermarkt
- Marko Arnautovic (age 28) from Stoke City – £20.07m permanent deal
- Javier Hernandez (29) from Bayer Leverkusen – £16.02m permanent deal
- Joe Hart (30) from Manchester City – Loan deal
- Pablo Zabaleta (32) from Manchester City – Free transfer
From the new year, West Ham have a set of winnable fixtures starting with West Brom on January 1st, then Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion. Out of these five games, an optimistic fan would expect 12 points from a possible 15, and with their new signings, that’s exactly what Bilić’s men should aim for.
Taking as many points from these fixtures will be key because they come straight after a tough spell of games. Starting on November 29th against Everton, they then have back to back games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, then a game against Stoke away to top it off. Fans would be happy with 5 or 6 points from a possible 15 here.
With the transfer window still not over, West Ham have improved on last season’s team. After finishing 11th last season, only one point from 8th, this line-up has the possibility of doing better. If managed well, and with a bit of luck, the Hammers could find themselves in a good league position come May next year.