With two games remaining this season, there is little time to look over our shoulders and wonder what went wrong last week.
I can only imagine that most West Ham supporters could identify the major factors which led to the unexpected defeat at the hands of a determined Swansea City side.
So with precious time left for reflection, we have to reorganise our style of play which has taken us so far this season.
There are a number of outcomes which must be objectively addressed…
1. Qualifying for the Europa League
2. Beating Man United and Stoke City by reverting back to fast ground passing associated with incisive running
3. An intent to score three goals in each of these games
Any chance of us qualifying for the Europa League rests on us finishing 6th (the team finishing 7th may also qualify, but at this stage we can’t rely on this).
Southampton have leap-frogged us in to 6th after unexpectedly winning at Tottenham, but they have only one game left.
Assuming the best outcomes for each of the following clubs, the final positions could be…
– 6th – West Ham (65pts)
– 7th – Liverpool (64pts)
– 8th – Southampton (63pts)
So how do we achieve these objectives? Let us begin with the starting formation. Once again, when the need is there, a 4-3-3 is one of the best formations for achieving wins. If we are able to revert to the style of play which has been so successful for much of the season, then I advocate we employ a central striker and a second striker, together with a right winger.
For the position of central striker, I’m suggesting that we choose Diafra Sakho, with Dimitri Payet playing as a second striker, who can also deputise as a make-shift left winger, together with Manuel Lanzini from an attacking left-midfield position.
Michail Antonio must surely be re-instated to his most effective position at right wing. He has the outright speed and dribbling skills to tear any defence apart, and is a capable goalscorer in his own right.
While I have suggested that we omit Andy Carroll from the starting line-up, any loss in aerial potency at set pieces can be adequately compensated by Sakho, Kouyate and Antonio.
In midfield, I would suggest that we continue with our dynamic duo of Noble & Kouyate, together with Lanzini playing on the left-side. Let us hope that we see a greater degree of free running from Lanzini and Payet, who have both been quiet in recent games.
This choice of midfielders and attacking players, together with Aaron Cresswell represent the players who are most capable of scoring three goals in each of our remaining games. I have suggested slotting Sam Byram in at right back in order to release Antonio further forward.
Once again, we must strive for the early ascendancy in possession as we search for the early goals, which we were so close in achieving during the first 25 minutes of our last game.
Everyone must start the game ready to give their all. We have an excellent squad who can continue the momentum until the final whistle.
I have every confidence that Diafra Sakho can spearhead a very effective attacking force; should he succumb to the exhaustion of maximal effort, Andy Carroll and/or Enner Valencia can provide the fresh legs to carry on with the momentum from the bench.