West Ham United have successfully kick-started their 2017 Carabao Cup run with a 2-0 win away at Cheltenham Town. The League Two side saw Diafra Sakho and Andre Ayew slot two goals past the keeper within the first half, but did have a couple of close calls themselves.
This is the Five Things We Learned from Cheltenham Town vs West Ham United.
5: Slaven Bilic took the players he knew could get the job done
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has often been the critics first port of call as they wonder what went wrong in a Premier League match. But as this fixture was a Carabao Cup run, they seemed rather quiet. His Starting XI was somewhat different as the boss made 7 changes from the defeat at Southampton, bringing in Adrian, Sam Byram, James Collins, Arthur Masuaku, Pedro Obiang, Edimilson Fernandes and Diafra Sakho in place of Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Jose Fonte, Aaron Cresswell, Michail Antonio, Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito.
On the bench for this fixture, Joe Hart, Jose Fonte, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Dominigos Quina, Sead Haksabanovic and Chicharito with Diafra Sakho substituted off for Chicharito at 64 minutes, Mark Noble for Chrikhou Kouyate at 75 minutes and Edimilson Fernandes for Dominigos Quina at 88 minutes.
The boss was hungry for some good results to come towards the club, and bringing in these players created the perfect blend between tired and fresh. In doing so, the Gaffer brought out the best of most players on the pitch, although there were a couple of shakey performances from Ayew again in this match.
4: Diafra Sakho shows what he’s capable of
Following the shot which hit the crossbar at Southampton last weekend, Diafra Sakho was definitely keen to get onto the pitch and show some class of his own. Lucky for him, Slaven Bilic also had the same idea as Bilic started the Senegalese striker ahead of Chicharito. After a good start, Sakho quickly found some service from the midfield and began showing his undeniable class as the striker made the most of what he could throughout the first half.
Shortly before half time though, Sakho found his mark as Byram threaded through a nice ball to him, who turned in the box, then finished it into the bottom right of the net, sending us 1-0 up over the League Two team.
3: Andre Ayew struggled... But to a lesser extent
Andre Ayew did have a somewhat difficult game against the League Two side, but it wasn’t as much of a struggle as his two Premier League appearances this season. The Ghanaian International struck again, bagging his first goal for the season, but this was against a League Two side.
His performance was admirable throughout the match, but there still needs to be some work done in his training for him to be Premier League ready for this season.
2: Slaven Bilic has something to be proud of.
Slaven Bilic made a few good decisions throughout this Cup game against Cheltenham Town, in particular by starting Diafra Sakho and putting Cheikhou Kouyate on the bench. Sakho, who’d been out most of last season through injury, returned to his ways by participating in the closed door pre-season Derby against Tottenham in a West Ham United XI.
Starting the striker proved to be a good call as he picked up our first goal in this match, then ultimately was replaced by Javier Hernandez after 60 minutes of game time. Bilic’s decision to rest Cheikhou Kouyate on the bench was also another great decision from the Gaffer as it allowed Cheikhou to be slowly introduced back into playing football.
There is no word yet on when Andy Carroll is likely to return from injury, but both Sakho and Carroll need to improve their performances if they want a new contract this season.
Overall, Slaven can take some comfort in this win in the Cup, but he has a lot of work to do in the League. Sitting in 20th place after two defeats in the first two games is likely to be a concern for the Croat, but if he continues to make the good decisions and employ the right tactics, he could see a contract extension headed his way in the coming months.
1: Bolton Wanderers at Home for Round 3
As attention shifted away from the Round 2 fixture, eyes started turning towards the Round 3 draw which took place in the early hours of Thursday morning GMT. As the numbers started coming out of the bowl, the corresponding teams were announced with Home being drawn first. Excitement quickly mounted as West Ham United’s number was plucked from the bowl, followed by Bolton Wanderers.
The game will be played during the week commencing 18 September, however this could prove to be interesting as the club have TWO players on short-term loans with Bolton. Midfielder Josh Cullen and Defender Reece Burke have joined Wanderers on short-term loans but it’s unlikely we’ll see them pull on Wanderers jersey’s for this match.
It is likely to be another excellent game for the Hammers and the Wanderers as this takes place at the London Stadium. The Brace The Hammer team will have articles talking about the game, before, during and after the business is done.
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