Devastation swept across Upton Park when it was discovered French midfield star Dimitri Payet’s ankle injury resulted in the Hammers being without the former Marseille playmaker for three months.
Other than Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Payet created more chances than any other player in the Premier League. With Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia also set to be ruled out until at least January with the ankle injury he picked up in the 2-2 home draw against Everton, many are predicting the start of turmoil for the East Londoners and expect them to tumble down the Premier League from sixth position.
However, bearing in mind Slaven Bilic’s men have a mouth-watering encounter against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and a busy set of fixtures fast approaching, a summer recruit is set to make his welcome return.
On loan Barcelona midfielder Alex Song is expected to start his second stint at the Boleyn Ground after finally recovering from ankle and knee surgery which has ruled him out for the past four months. This a player that performed admirably for the first part of last season and was instrumental in guiding the club to an impressive fourth place in the table by Christmas.
However, after going under the knife and having not kicked a ball for a considerable amount of time, can the former Cameroon international regain his form he showed at the beginning of the 2014/2015 campaign?
Despite a solid start to the season, Bilic will want to improve defensively after keeping just three clean sheets in the first 12 matches. Queue Song, who will no doubt answer Bilic’s prayers as the former Arsenal man made 91 tackles, 14 more than any other West Ham player last year while also winning possession in the middle of the park 122 times, only Chelsea Nemanja Matic made more interceptions.
With Pedro Obiang failing to pin down a place in the starting XI thus far, the Spaniard’s chances of regaining a spot have been severely hindered as Song will have more of an impact in keeping some of the Premier League’s playmakers such as Spurs’ Christian Eriksen, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Manchester City’s midfield line quiet.
Once more, Song’s underrated offensive qualities go unnoticed, much to the delight of all of the the fans. In 2012, while plying his trade at The Emirates Stadium, Song played 24 through balls in offensive positions, more than any other player in the Premier league and more than any other Barcelona player in La Liga other than the great Lionel Messi, who if you may recall was teammates with in the following season.
There is no doubt Song has the defensive credentials in order to assist in the Hammers not conceding but can he be as effective in the offensive positions as Payet?
As the fixture congestion piles up with domestic and cup games, a player that is known well in East London through his first spell, then Alex Song’s return to action will be extremely welcome.