Slaven Bilic must take his tactical notes, his lineup cards, and where ever else he has noted that “a back three might be a good idea” and burn them in the fireplace or bury them out back in the garden.
While the team and fans might be slightly disappointed to draw against Liverpool, it was obvious to anyone who watched the game that Winston Reid and Angello Ogbonna were much more comfortable playing in a back four, even with a fill-in right back in Havard Nordtveit. Aaron Cresswell also showed why he is an England international with his quality play down the left side, coming up on the attack when needed while still tracking back to defend.
Despite a shaky start, allowing a goal within the first five minutes, the team settled down, kept their shape, and kept a high-powered Liverpool team pretty much at bay throughout the match. The second Liverpool goal was only scored after a blunder from Randolph, but otherwise the partnership of Reid and Ogbonna was much more solid than two-thirds of a shaky back three.
Slaven Bilic and the board should refrain from panic buying in the January window, but a right-back should be a priority. It might seem like a fool’s errand to hope that Andy Carroll stay fit, but no one can question his passion for the club, something that is usually lacking in January transfers. Going to a back for will also allow Antonio to move up the pitch, where he prefers to play.
While there might be a debate as to who West Ham should target, finding a fullback to play on the right has been a concern since the summer. Fans and the press seem to be obsessed with finding a new striker to score goals for the club, but it should be noted that the team has allowed 31 goals this season, with only Hull’s 32 goals allowed worse in the Premier League.
Since the defense has been shaky all season, it is easy to dump on the goalkeeper. Randolph has seemed to grab the starting role from Adrian, and while the team is linked to new keepers in the press, better defending from the defense along with improved play from Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang in the center of midfield will surely do more to help the club keep clean sheets and set the team up for success.