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How could West Ham line-up to accommodate both Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll?

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It is little coincidence that the return of Andy Carroll has come at the same time as a small revival from West Ham, picking up four points in the space of six days to move off the bottom of the table.

Picking up a first victory of the season over Huddersfield and following it with a creditable away draw with West Brom has seen pressure ease slightly on boss Slaven Bilic after a poor start to the season, where the Hammers lost their opening three matches and conceded ten whilst doing so.

But whilst Carroll’s return has been a catalyst for results on the pitch his return to a stereotypical number nine role has thrown up a new issue for Bilic, with Javier Hernandez struggling in his new position.

The Mexican international was arguably the silver lining of West Ham’s opening three games, re-adjusting to Premier League life nicely by scoring twice in 270 minutes as an out-and-out striker.

Yet since Carroll’s re-emergence into the first-team Hernandez has been played out of his natural position in more of a left-wing role, and as such he has had little impact in the last two league games.

The West Ham manager himself admitted after the 0-0 draw with West Brom that his current striking conundrum is a tough one to find a straight answer to, telling the Evening Standard:

“I am thinking about them the most but it is hard to have them both in their natural positions.

“It is hard to do that and then have three at the back, then with [Michail] Antonio and [Marko] Arnautovic – it is almost impossible.”

So the question that’s now on every West Ham fans’ lips is, how do you accommodate both options?

The difficulty is that both players, despite their vastly different styles of play, both rely on being on the shoulder of the last defender to get success, with Carroll accustomed to taking the ball down with his back to goal and looking for options whilst Hernandez makes smart runs across the defence.

Everybody knows that Hernandez operates at his best in the penalty area, and as shown in the previous two matches at left-wing he gets very little time in the box, so that system is a firm no-go.

But at the same time Carroll is a focal point of the West Ham side, giving them something to aim for when there’s a tricky situation at the back or a physically weak defence, and his contribution in a striking role can’t be underestimated – in just two matches he’s already won 20 of his aerial battles.

As Bilic alluded to in his post-match comments, the return of Marko Arnautovic from suspension on Saturday will also provide another selection dilemma – just like Manuel Lanzini when he comes back.

It seems that the only way to accommodate his attacking options is to revert to a four-man defensive unit, rather than three, allowing the likes of Arnautovic and Antonio to work in tandem on either flank as wide outlets and enabling Lanzini – or Andre Ayew for now – space down the middle.

As for the Carroll-Hernandez conundrum, it could well be worth experimenting with the Mexican operating just behind the target-man in a 4-4-1-1 system, utilising his pace to anticipate flick-ons.

This would keep Carroll as West Ham’s most forward player, as he is when at his influential best, but further allow Hernandez to utilise his pace to stretch defenders and still be in and around the area.

It is likely that Bilic will set his side out a little more defensively considering they face Tottenham on Saturday, but going forward – and once players return from injury – a system change would be wise.

It is certainly not a bad place for West Ham to be in considering the position the club was in just a fortnight ago, but Bilic needs to try and find a working system soon to push towards that top-half.

Take a look at how The Boot Room thinks West Ham could look at full strength:

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

West Ham United

England hopeful Joe Hart’s latest West Ham error has harpooned his World Cup hopes

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Photo: Getty Images

Everything seemed to finally be falling into place for West Ham’s loanee goalkeeper Joe Hart. Having been benched by David Moyes, he made a man of the match return against Chelsea as he emerged the hero on his return to Stamford Bridge.

Then everything came crashing back to earth in disastrous fashion at the London Stadium on Monday evening.

Hart has gone from a steady and reliable option for one of the best sides in the Premier League and a clear first choice for England to a calamitous liability for a team fighting relegation and his spot on the plane to Russia is in doubt.

With Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland excelling, the latter in the opposite net on Monday night as Hart slipped up by producing his fourth error leading to a goal this season.

(Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Not only did Joe Hart fumble the ball but it was just the latest reminder for Gareth Southgate that he cannot trust his most experienced man in Russia.

He will likely make the 23 man squad, partly out of loyalty and thanks for his role in securing qualification as Southgate has previously suggest would be the case, but also for his experience of such tournaments which could be key for novices like Butland and Pickford.

Burnley‘s Nick Pope may feel aggrieved if he is to miss out, but Hart’s experience and leadership role within the England dressing room may be too important to risk by not selecting him. Even with that in mind though, Southgate has proven himself to be ruthless as he did with his easing out of Wayne Rooney.

Whilst Rooney’s struggle for form saw him dropped from the side, leading to his international retirement, Hart’s can surely only have the same influence.

As Southgate looks to build a new look set-up with the Three Lions, featuring a young back three full of new names such as Harry Maguire, Alfie Mawson and James Tarkowski, Hart will no longer have such a key presence and it seems an opportune time to blood a new first choice in his place.

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West Ham’s decision to retain David Moyes next season is a mistake

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Photo: Getty Images

David Moyes is set to remain as West Ham manager, say The Times, as the newspaper has revealed that the Scotsman is in talks to extend his contract beyond the end of the current season.

The ex-Sunderland boss was brought in to the club in November after the dismissal of Slaven Bilic tasked with keeping the Hammers in the Premier League after a woeful start. Five months on, safety is far from secure but looks more likely than not.

Though he is yet to be officially offered a new deal, he is in talks with David Gold and David Sullivan over a long-term deal to secure his future at the London Stadium.

However, the decision to keep Moyes on will not be a popular one with fans. His defensive tactics, questionable signings and lack of substantial improvements on the field have done little to convince.

(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Coming in to the club with a trashed reputation having taken Sunderland down, Moyes had a point to prove and has done that to some extent by stabilising a club in turmoil off the field with fan protests continuing in the stands and around the ground.

Good results against Southampton and Chelsea were quickly forgotten though as the ex-Everton boss selected a team with five defenders and no natural striker at home in a must win game against second from bottom Stoke City.

His tactical reluctance to attack and stubborn desire to defend first almost harks back to the days of Sam Allardyce, a manager with an acceptable record at the club but who was detested by fans for failing to ‘play the West Ham way’.

His only major signings to date, Jordan Hugill from Preston, who is yet to start, and Patrice Evra on a free transfer, have had next to no impact on the first team and have only fueled criticism of the club’s transfer policy.

The decision appears to do little to aid the club’s owners in their quest to please fans and equally shows a short-term focus on the club’s goals given that many fans remain unconvinced by Moyes.

If he is to stay, Moyes will need backing in the summer in financial terms and that will have to be substantial if it is to entirely convert Moyes’ style in east London to capture the imagination of Irons’ fans.

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‘Alternative threat’ – West Ham forward Andy Carroll’s heroics lead to World Cup pleas

The striker turned hero with his short brief cameo against Stoke.

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Andy Carroll
Photo: Getty Images

Andy Carroll played the role of saviour for West Ham United on Monday night, coming off the bench and scoring a 90th minute equaliser against Stoke City.

The 29-year-old striker was making his first appearance for the Hammers since January and marked his return with a goal of the highest quality.

Carroll tracked Aaron Creswell’s clipped cross to perfection, making sumptuous contact with his left foot and steering an unstoppable volley past a despairing Jack Butland.

It was a fine way to reacquaint himself to the West Ham faithful, sending London Stadium into relieved delirium.

The Hammers had dominated proceedings against Stoke, but struggled to find the crucial breakthrough until the imposing striker was substituted on in the 86th minute.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

And with five matches to play in the Premier League season, there could be ample opportunities for Carroll to stake his claim as one of the strikers selected by Gareth Southgate in his World Cup squad.

The striker has been capped nine times by England, and it is not outlandish to suggest he can make a late bid for Russia. Carroll offers a style of play that no other forward in the current set-up can replicate, with fantastic technical skills combined with remarkably powerful strength.

And buoyed by his late heroics, supporters flocked to make the case for Carroll’s inclusion in Southgate’s side.

And in Euro 2012, the last international tournament Carroll was involved in, the striker scored a crucial goal against Ukraine.

Is there to be more of the same from the West Ham frontman this summer?

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