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West Ham Season Preview #1: Can Andre Ayew fight his way back?

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New Hammers on the block threaten to relieve Ayew of serious game time, or gift it

Burnley v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Last Season

Poor Andre Ayew. Last summer’s ‘blockbuster’ transfer for West Ham United hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Hammers for a record fee. Between injuries and the Africa Cup of Nations, Ayew’s place in the lineup has been anything but stable. However, his form towards the closing of the season, once he was settled, might have given us a glimpse into what Andre can bring to the table.

Even in a limited capacity, due to injury or international obligations, Ayew still managed to grab six goals and three assists on the year. The negative side of that coin is there should have been way more as Andre Ayew found himself on plenty of Youtube highlight reels for Miss of the Year.

However, there were absolutely some positive highlights as well.

It is tough to discern the difference between fan frustration with West Ham United as a whole last season, and the play of an individual. Patience was in short supply and tempers were easily flared. It only took a string of poor performances to end up on the crowd’s excrement list, and once tainted, it was difficult to get the smell out. There was little Ayew could do to get back on the fans side. The divide between love and hate grew among the fans and battle lines were being drawn.

Who could blame their anger? With so much promised on the year, it was difficult to overlook such disappointment. Andre Ayew was the most expensive player to ever wear claret and blue, yet he failed in almost every single expectation. In March, we were begging for Ayew’s presence in the lineup, but by May, he was a microcosm of West Ham’s failings. Even now, I’m willing to wager as some of you are reading this, you’re already formulating your angry rebuttals into 140 characters. I don’t blame you.

As May was dwindling down and West Ham were wrapping up a season of disappointing mediocrity, it was clear to everyone involved changes need to be made. Enter, Marko Arnautovic.

Current Team Placement

Ideally, Marko would play on the left wing with Manuel Lanzini in center, Chicharito up top, and Michail Antonio on the right. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for good ole Andre Ayew. So is our new champion winger up to the task? Is he that much better?

I’d certainly say so. While Marko did play in more matches than Andre, they fell equal in goals scored, which is great for Andre. However, when you take a deeper dive into the numbers there’s a more telling statistic. How much involvement in the attacking buildup one player had versus the other. Ayew seemed more of a poacher, and an opportunistic striker, while Arnautovic was busy setting up chances. Sure, he played more matches and Ayew shifted positions around the field, but the differences are too great to ignore.

Goals for this Season

So what does Andre have to do to become relevant again this year?

Well, should he not be sold off to potential suitors in Newcastle or West Bromwich Albion, he needs to continue to be what he is; opportunistic. The one trait everyone agreed they dislike regarding Marko is his tendency to be streaky. There will be a strings of matches where we’re all going to scratch our heads and wonder what we’ve purchased.

Whether those chances for Ayew come via injury or poor form, Andre can recapture the hearts and minds of the fans by taking advantage of his opportunities. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But between Michail Antonio’s injury record and Arnautovic dipping in and out of form - he’ll have plenty of chances to shine.