West Ham’s debut season in the Olympic Stadium hasn’t quite gone according to plan. The allure of Europa League football for West Ham as well as a possible top four challenge appears to have vanished into thin air due to some below par performances from Slaven Bilic’s side.
Following the club’s exit from the Europa League so early into the competition, doubts have been raised over their ability to keep up with the top sides in the League and better their 7th place finish from last season.
It’s worth noting that the Hammers are facing somewhat of an injury crisis as the likes of Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet and new signing Andre Ayew have already missed out on a couple of fixtures this season.
However, Lanzini and Mark Noble have made spirited returns to the side as they both featured in the game which saw the London outfit succumb to an agonising defeat against a Pep Guardiola led Manchester City side.
West Ham has fallen short of expectations thus far, although there’s plenty of time for the Hammers to redeem themselves and give the fans at the Olympic stadium something to cheer for.
While it’s still early days in the Premier League, Slaven Bilic needs to get things right sooner rather than later, and as things stand, that means West Ham have to bounce right back immediately after the international break in a bid to get a run going and make up for dropped points.
Bilic needs to use the hiatus to West Ham’s advantage; Manuel Lanzini is expected to be available to start against Watford on September 10, while Noble seems to be fully fit for the tie as well.
Payet is still a doubt with some concerns being raised about his fitness, but Billic can still work around his short absence by utilising Lanzini’s pace and trickery along with Antonio’s proficiency in the attacking third.
West Ham also has a new goalscoring outlet in the form of Simone Zaza who recently arrived at the club from reigning Serie A champions Juventus.
Zaza’s arrival has been greeted with some optimism from the supporters and with good reason as the return of the club’s key midfielders will see the Italy international being presented with great goalscoring opportunities.
Although it remains to be seen whether Slaven Billic can lead his side into the Europa League and a possible top four spot with the likes of Leicester, Everton and Stoke City keen on playing European football next season.
The pressure is piling up on Billic and his lads, and West Ham has to kick-start their season right after the break, or it might just be little too late for them to launch a viable bid for European football.
The Croatian knows that all too well, hence we can expect to see some strong showings from the Hammers over the next couple of games, and when Payet returns to the side, it’s hard to envisage West Ham losing against any team outside the top six.