West Ham: Relegation candidates?

West Ham United have endured their worst ever start to a Premier League season, but do Hammers fans have real reason to be worried?

An impressive first season for Slavan Bilic saw West Ham United finish 7th in the league, equalling their second best ever Premier League finish, however it all seems a distant memory from the slump that they’ve found themselves in so far this term. With only one win from seven games, they lie in the bottom three with lacklustre performances quickly becoming a formality.

Such a drastic change in fortunes is eye-catching, and many Hammers believe that the problem is routed in their relocation to the London Stadium. Although all of their meagre 4 points have been won at their new home, it is clear to see that travelling to West Ham has lost it’s fear factor; rather than being pinned back by the hostility of both the players and the fans, teams are playing with a level of confidence and freedom (see Watford, 4-2). This manner of defeat was rarely seen last season, with the irons playing with such electricity that could only be generated at Upton Park; providing a helping hand for wins over Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham as well as draws against Man City and Arsenal.

As much of a difference West Ham’s relocation seems to have had on their performances, its not where you play but how you play that counts. With injuries to key players like Carroll and Cresswell, Bilic did his best to bolster his squad, but looks to have failed miserably. At left-back, Aaron Cresswell’s replacement Arthur Masuaku has been way below par, a string of silly decisions having proved costly on several occasions so far. Record signing Andre Ayew has yet to impress East Londoners and Gokhan Tore’s form has been hit and miss since joining on loan from Besiktas. Their only bright spark so far this season has been Michail Antonio’s head, netting 5 in 7.

If this poor start is a sign of things to come, West Ham will find themselves in a relegation scrap with the usual suspects of Sunderland, Burnley and Hull, and also the surprise underperformers in Stoke and Swansea. The near future looks bleak for the Hammers with them playing 7 of the top 8 in their next nine games. They’re going to need to step up their game if they want to pick up any points; relying on Dimitri Payet’s genius will not suffice.

In fairness to London side, the season is still young and adjusting to new surroundings with a few vital players still to return from injury isn’t easy. Even if things do not look any brighter come January, West Ham will be able to spend bigger than the other teams battling to avoid the drop and could yet turn their season around.

Although West Ham have superior resources then most of the bottom half, if they don’t manage to turn their season around soon it could be a nail-biting second half of the season in the east end, particularly for Slavan Bilic.

 

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