West Ham now have the smallest squad in the Premier League and that could damage our excellent start to the 2020/21 season
A lacklustre January transfer window for West Ham resulted in only one major signing, Jesse Lingard on a short-term loan from Manchester United.
A permanent transfer for Said Benrahma was agreed as well, but he was already at the club.
While Lingard will be a good addition to the squad, this doesn’t change the fact that we needed to bring in a striker and a defensive midfielder this month. We now only have 22 players within the squad.
Despite the small numbers, we have still managed to get off to a flying start this season and have now lost only one game in our last nine – 3-1 to Liverpool last Sunday.
We are currently 5th in the league table, four points adrift from fourth-placed Leicester City. However, we run the risk of ruining our brilliant start to the season due to a lack of squad depth.
In the January transfer window, we sold two first-team players, Sebastien Haller and Robert Snodgrass, as well as letting several players go out on loan. Winston Reid was loaned out to Brentford and Oladapo Afolayan signed a short-term loan deal with Bolton.
While this doesn’t impact the squad greatly, it still reduces the number of options we have.
Defensively we should be covered if we’re dealt with any injury issues. We have several options in the full-back positions, as well as five centre-backs all competing to start.
However, further up the squad is where our problems lie. We have two solid defensive midfielders in Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, but only an aging Mark Noble to cover that position.
The signing of the versatile Jesse Lingard has added cover for the wingers and attacking midfielders – but Moyes only has one experienced striker, in Michail Antonio, at his disposal. Not to mention that he often struggles with hamstring injuries.
While Mipo Odubeko, 18, is shining through the youth academy, he lacks first-team experience. He would be our only striker replacement unless a sluggish Andriy Yarmolenko fills into that role.
The club’s lack of urgency to fill the gap that Haller left, when we sold him to Ajax, could be one of West Ham’s biggest downfalls looking ahead to the second half of the season.
Our impressive start puts us in Europa League contention but our lack of squad depth could seriously harm our form. We are now two or three big injuries away from looking at Europa League contention to struggling to stay in the top 10.
The past tells us that we should have been more prepared going into last month’s transfer window, having experienced injury troubles before. However, the owners have now made the same mistake and it could cost us greatly.
We have to hope that we don’t end up suffering from a long-line of injuries over the next few months, with two competitions left to play for. If we do, West Ham could be looking to finish lower than expected, and the owners and David Moyes will have a lot of explaining to do.