Hammers fan blog: West Ham have finally found a formation which suits
The tactics and selection were spot on for Wigan, but performance was far from perfect
There’s been a strange reaction to Saturday’s crucial victory over relegation rivals Wigan, with many seemingly keen to dwell on the deficiencies of the opposition rather than savouring what could be a vital three points in the fight for survival.
That’s not to say that those observations are without merit – Wigan were under-strength and extremely poor, but with victories in short supply so far this term the fans should enjoy the three points, and everyone at West Ham deserves enormous credit for a job well done.
Avram Grant got his selection and tactics absolutely right, the effect of new defensive coach Wally Downes’ work was immediate and significant and the players performed under the most intense of pressures.
Frustratingly, a late winner for Wolves meant that West Ham remain at the foot of the table; but the pack is once again within touching distance and, perhaps crucially, Grant should no longer be in any doubt about the best way for his side to approach games.
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Both of Hammers’ league victories this season have been achieved playing a conventional 4-4-2 system, with Freddie Picquionne and Victor Obinna operating as a partnership up front.
It will not, or should not, have escape the Israeli’s conscious that the same pairing also played together and scored when West Ham’s next opponents in the Premier League, Sunderland, were vanquished on their own patch in an earlier round of the Carling Cup.
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In a busy week for the club, the weekend trip to the Stadium of Light is preceded by a Carling Cup quarter final against holders Manchester United under lights at Upton Park.
The last sentence really ought to be enough to get the juices of every Hammers fan flowing, but such is the emphasis on Premier League survival in the modern day game, it is a fixture that is dividing opinion amongst supporters on its importance.
At the forefront of the concerns is the possibility of fatigue or injury to key performers, whilst numerous others venture that this competition represents a genuine chance of silverware. Having gained some momentum at the weekend it is a little perplexing that some, including people from within the club, have suggested making non-essential changes, particularly considering how poor the team looked on Saturday once reduced to less than 100 per cent by the enforced substitutions of the incomparable Scott Parker and and Frederic Picquionne.
A win against Manchester United at any stage is a massive shot in the arm, with a place in the semi final at stake doubly so, and the long journey for the so-called ‘more important’ fixture at the weekend will be made brimming with confidence on the back of consecutive victories.
On that, everyone can agree.