A job well done, Hammers. Can’t ask for more than that against the Champions of England. Javier Hernandez commits daylight robbery on a dominant Chelsea to secure a much-appreciated point in our battle against the dreaded drop-zone. A point that could prove crucial come this season’s unforgiving final fixtures, IF we do the right work in the week in-between.
So what needs to be done in the lead up to our most important game of our remaining season?
West Ham have been plagued with injuries, as per usual with 6 key first-team regulars on the sidelines. Lanzini will likely return to feature in some capacity, but for the others they will miss out. Considering our formidable stretch at the end of the season, with 3 top teams still to play, and Leicester away, if we are to acquire anything from those fixtures, it is of paramount importance that David Moyes’ depleted squad stays fit and firing on all cylinders.
Granted a point against Chelsea requires a mammoth-load of resilience, especially in the final 15 minutes after Chicharito’s strike. But playing Stoke at Home is a whole different kettle of fish than Chelsea away. We may have the home advantage, but make no mistake, this will not be an easy match. Stoke City are in deep, deep trouble, and Monday night’s fixture is a six-pointer in the truest sense of the phrase. Stoke win, and they can make a last minute bid for Premier League survival, meaning that is one more relegation void West Ham have to worry about. West Ham win, and we can make the tail-end of the season a lot less pressured for results, whilst plunging a relegation rival into even further relegation trouble. For this reason, the Stoke game will test the players’ mental strength and ability to the absolute limit for the full 90 and stoppage time. Moyes will have to nail into the players’ minds the determination to get every second ball, to make progress with every pass, to block every opposition shot and to work as a team. West Ham cannot get complacent with 4 points from their last 2 games, as they will be punished by Stoke City, meaning all of Sunday’s performance will be for nothing.
David Moyes will have to be on the top of his tactical game in order to punish Stoke City. In keeping with the aforementioned fitness priority, Moyes must use all substitutions available at the right times to keep his men fresh for the following fixture against Arsenal on Sunday 22nd. In-match too, he must utilise the wings through Masuaku, Mario and Zabaleta in order to set up Hernandez through Arnautovic knock-downs. Having the physical attacking presence of Arnautovic in the box combined with the pace of Masuaku and Mario, if utilised correctly, could provide serious damage to a Stoke City team that has conceded 63 goals in 33 games this season, and are winless in 9 games. That said, the determination will likely be impressed upon caretaker manager Paul Lambert’s men, and so they will be well up for the dogfight that will be this fixture. West Ham must be prepared for a team that will be hard to break down, and will not think twice about punishing defensive mistakes.
Predicted Lineup for West Ham vs Stoke City
West Ham United 2-1 Stoke City
18’ J.Hernandez (A: M.Arnautovic)
42’ M.Arnautovic (A: J.Mario)
78’ X.Shaqiri (A: J.Allen)
COME ON YOU IRONS!
Be sure to follow @WestHamSHOUT and @BraceTheHammer on Twitter.