Have West Ham lost their intensity when defending this season?
Talks to extend Slaven Bilic’s contact at West Ham have been postponed until he sorts out the club’s on-field problems, many news outlets including the Telegraph are reporting today.
The club have had a terrible start to the season, including conceding four against West Brom at the weekend, as well as getting knocked out of Europe, losing key men to injury and having issues in the new stadium.
Negotiations for a new contract was supposed to begin in January, but co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold have now reportedly postponed the talks.
While losing to both Chelsea and Manchester City is nothing to be too concerned with, Bilic will be most anxious to work out why his side self-imploded against both Watford and West Brom.
Against the two clubs, eight goals were conceded, and during the game against Watford, the Hammers gave away a total of 13 shots to the away side. It was remarkable to think that at one-point West Ham were 2-0 up.
Comparing the two defeats to the same fixtures last season brings up some interesting statistics. In fact, most of the defensive stats remain the same. Against West Brom away last season in the 0-3 win, the Hammers conceded slightly more shots and committed to more blocks and challenges, a total of 22. This season, they conceded less shots and so naturally committed less blocks, but conceded four. This raises the question of the intensity of their defending.
In the home game against Watford, the Hammers conceded 13 shots, blocking seven and committing to 26 interceptions. In last season’s 3-1 home win over Watford, Bilic’s team blocked 12 and intercepted 31 times. Pretty similar, until it is considered that there was a drop in tackles won – 39% in last season’s game to 24% in this game. This raises the question about the intensity and concentration involved in the way the Hammers are defending.
Of course, it could still be that injuries have affected them massively and when key players return the squad will be more settled. West Ham almost bought in enough players for a whole new team, so it could well be a case of settling in and adjusting while other squads keep settled teams. That said, to concede four goals to both Watford and West Brom is a massive cause for concern.
Perhaps the issues of a new stadium and new players has affected the concentration in the defending, but this is something that needs to be quickly resolved. Last season the Hammers began with massive away wins at Arsenal, City and Liverpool to kick-start their season and they will need something like that quick in order to make sure this season doesn’t become one to forget, and Slaven Bilic ends up losing his job. The manager has plenty to sort out.