West Ham are yet to pick up three points in the Premier League this season and currently occupy 16th place – so could Manuel Pellegrini be tempted to tinker with his formation in the coming weeks?
The Hammers made Sebastien Haller their club-record signing this summer – arriving from Eintracht Frankfurt for £45million – and the France striker comes with an excellent reputation of both scoring goals and providing assists.
The 25-year-old exerted his class in the opening 45 minutes of the Premier League season against Manchester City, but something was missing – that missing piece could be Javier Hernandez.
Haller netted 20 times and chipped in with 12 assists in the 2018/19 season; having a strike partner up front was seemingly beneficial for the 6″3 centre-forward and at Frankfurt, that partner was Luka Jovic.
Manuel Pellegrini is striving towards playing a certain way in east London. Throughout pre-season, West Ham deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation to accompany the abundance of attacking talent they have – allowing the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Pablo Fornals and Jack Wilshere to express their attacking capabilities and cause havoc in the final third of the pitch.
However, against City, Haller rapidly became isolated and consequently evaporated from the action. He sustained an injury and last weekend, Chicharito led the line against Brighton as the lone striker.
The 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium signified exactly where Hernandez thrives and fails in equal measure. Operating as a sole striker simply isn’t the Mexican’s forte and throughout the majority of his time on the pitch, he failed to contribute to the action.
However, the one chance that arrived in the box, he gladly took. Chicharito is one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League and when opportunities arrive inside the 18-yard box, nine times out of 10 he will tuck it away.
And this sparks an interesting question; is it time to try 4-4-2 and give Haller and Hernandez the opportunity to form a strike partnership?
Last season, Pellegrini switched to a 4-4-2 in December and the Irons instantly discovered success, winning four games on the spin and Hernandez himself found a purple patch of form – netting three times and chipping in with one assist.
Both Haller and Hernandez would benefit from having a striker to play alongside, so surely it is a no-brainer? However, opting to play two strikers would mean one of the attacking midfield options would miss out.
Fox in the box
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 17, 2019
Also, the Hammers do not inherit the central midfielders required to regularly utilise a 4-4-2 formation successfully. Declan Rice has proven his valuable worth in a claret and blue shirt but the ageing Mark Noble cannot function in a two-man midfield, and Jack Wilshere has proven this season that he does not inherit the defensive discipline to provide a security blanket.
I think it is worth a try in home matches against opposition we will obtain the majority of possession against, but a trip to Vicarage Road this week is not the easiest of places to visit; playing two strikers could be a nightmare defensively.