Have West Ham United Finally Found The Winning Formula?

Have West Ham United Finally Found The Winning Formula?
Sep 21, 2017

Featured West Ham

Following the Hammers 3-0 thrashing of Bolton on Tuesday, West Ham are unbeaten in their last three, without conceding in any of the games. Slaven Bilić’s side switched to a 3-4-3 formation to play Huddersfield on September 11, which saw the Irons emerge as 2-0 victors. They also used this setup at the end last season, seeing them keep three clean sheets in five matches.

The club were dominant in the first half when playing the Terriers, and were solid defensively throughout the full 90 minutes. Huddersfield only had one real chance throughout the entire match, which saw Tom Ince hit the crossbar. Though, the defence looked extremely comfortable in the 3-4-3.

West Ham’s defence looked extremely comfortable in the 3-4-3. The wingbacks got up and down the pitch very effectively, particular Pablo Zabaleta, who was some fans Man of the Match. In this system, the centre-backs looked at ease as well, with José Fonte being another nominee for Man of the Match in the Huddersfield game.

Bilić named an unchanged squad for the match against West Bromwich Albion on September 16. Many fans were upset with the use of Chicharito on the wing for the second straight week but were happy to see the defence unchanged after a clean sheet.

The Hammers played West Brom to a boring 0-0 draw, in a game that’s only notable chance was Pedro Obiang hitting the bar from about 45 yards out. The key takeaway from this game was another clean sheet. The side kept back to back clean sheets which have become a rarity for the Irons, after conceding 64 Premier League goals last season.

After the match against West Brom, José Fonte spoke to the media about the change of formation: “We feel very comfortable and secure when we play this way. Now it’s about trying to find ways to break down teams like this,” said the Portuguese defender after yet another solid outing.

This being a massive sign that the Hammers’ defenders feel much more confident playing in a three at the back formation than a four at the back. Playing three at-the-back gives West Ham an extra CB, and lets two wingbacks playing on either side of the three centre-halves, track back and help in defence as well.

However, for the midweek match which welcomed Bolton Wanderers to the London Stadium, Bilić switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, which saw many changes in the side. West Ham didn’t miss a beat though, putting in a blinding performance, and easily beating a struggling side in Bolton. West Ham created chance after chance, with record signing Marko Arnautović being at the heart of most of them.

Bilić’s side scored three goals, but it could have easily been five or six if his side were more clinical on the day. Another massive positive to take from the cup tie was a third straight clean-sheet, and doing it with a four at-the-back formation, showing versatility in the Irons defense.

Centre-backs Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna were superb, as was left back Arthur Masuaku who’s attacking intent from fullback was unbelievable. Masuaku ended his strong outing with a stunning strike into the top left corner to make it 3-0 in stoppage time, and now has many Hammers’ fans calling for him to start this weekend’s London Derby against Spurs.

After failing to pick up a point in August, West Ham are unbeaten in September and seem to be oozing with confidence at the moment. With more players coming back from suspension and injury, Bilić’s side will only get stronger. Marko Arnautović is set to make his first Premier League start this weekend since being suspended for three matches back in August, as Manuel Lanzini is only a few weeks away from returning as well. West Ham are only going to get stronger, and seem to have found the winning formula at just the right time.

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