The draw against Sunderland on Saturday was another important point away from home.
Most importantly, West Ham have still only lost once in their last ten games, showcasing exactly why the Hammers are still in the top four of the Premier League. The team has only lost twice away from home all season, with an unlucky 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford and a similarly unfortunate 2-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park.
The excellent performances away from home so far this season are playing a major part in West Ham’s climb up the table. Although the team tend to play in more of a defensive manner in away fixtures, Sam Allardyce’s side still respond well when goals are conceded.
West Ham revealed exactly what they were about in the away fixture against Hull City in September. The team fell behind twice in the match but responded well by equalising on both occasions. Another impressive comeback was against Stoke City, where Stewart Downing inspired West Ham to come from two goals down to rescue a point at the Britannia.
So far this season, West Ham fans have seen a response from their side well they fall behind away from home. Another excellent result came at the Hawthorns, where two goals in the first half cancelled out West Brom’s opener. From all of these performances, many West Ham fans will be very encouraged by the fact that the team doesn’t really know when it is beaten.
In the two games West Ham have lost away from home, Allardyce’s team were searching for the equaliser in both matches, with Manchester United and Everton having to hang on to their lead in the latter stages of the game.
This level of resilience that has been evident throughout the season so far will please Allardyce. After the shocking penalty decision at the weekend, last season’s West Ham team may have found it difficult to break down a solid Sunderland side. However, Stewart Downing’s strike showed fans that the belief and quality is there for West Ham to cause many problems away from home. Right now, most teams in the division will not be looking forward to the visit of West Ham due to the fact that the team can pick up points on the road this season.
The squad depth plays a major part in terms of competing away from home throughout the season. West Ham are not restricted to the lump-up-to-Carroll ordeal that made them far too predictable away from home last season. Instead, Allardyce can explore a number of options to expose the opposition. Diafra Sakho, AlexSong, Enner Valencia and Stewart Downing can all provide ammunition to really hurt the opponents in a variety of ways.
This variation means that defenders cannot settle when playing against West Ham as the team are simply more of a threat nowadays. In the game against Sunderland, West Ham had 20 attempts on goal with seven on target, which was more than the home side, who registered 13 attempts with four on target. Although Sunderland had more of the ball, West Ham used it more wisely and had 53.8% of the overall territory in the game.
The Irons also had more corners, registering eight corners whilst Sunderland managed six. Although these stats do not reveal West Ham as completely dominant in the game, it shows fans that West Ham are far more willing to go at the opposition in away games, something that simply didn’t happen last season.
Although West Ham did gain a solid point against Sunderland, no player played particularly brilliantly compared to last the last home fixture against Swansea City, where Andy Carroll and Alex Song were absolutely outstanding.
Instead, it was more of a muted display from West Ham as neither striker got much of a sniff at goal; even Sakho looked a frustrated figure at times. Having said that, the team still managed to grind out a draw despite not playing brilliantly, a feat that will please Sam Allardyce as he looks to guide this particularly special team towards Europe this year.
Although West Ham have had some memorable victories so far this year, fans should not dismiss the vital points that Allardyce’s men pick up away from home. The team suddenly have an element of solidarity about them that compliments a rather potent attacking force.
If West Ham can muster up an away point at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day before putting in a good performance against Arsenal two days later, it will show fans that the belief is there to produce something special this season.