West Ham’s 4-0 win against Wolves was further evidence that the Hammers might be one of the most unpredictable teams in world football.
The defeat away at Arsenal was an improvement on their dismal home loss against Newcastle, but few would have envisaged such an emphatic victory against a team tipped to challenge for Europe. Here are five things we learned...
New formation is the way forward
West Ham have looked a much better side since reverting to the formation often deployed during David Moyes’ first spell in East London.
The use of wing-backs was effective against the Gunners, and Moyes stuck with the same system against Wolves, ‘managing’ West Ham from his home after testing positive for COVID-19.
Under Alan Irvine's guidance, the team were structured in a 5-4-1 out of possession, transitioning into a 3-4-3 with the ball, a setup that hides the Hammers’ defensive weaknesses while bringing the most out of players such as Arthur Masuaku.
The ‘Congolese Roberto Carlos’ was MOTM against Arsenal and he was superb against the Wanderers, neutralising the threat posed by Adama Traore while also contributing with an assist.
Attacking options provide needed competition
Following their recent performances in the Carabao Cup, many argued that Sebastien Haller, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Felipe Anderson had done enough to warrant a starting place in the team for the Premier League.
However, Moyes persisted with the frontline that played against Arsenal, and West Ham’s attack scored four against Nuno Espirito Santo’s men, his biggest ever defeat as Wolves boss.
While it is unknown how the trio would’ve fared if they’d played, the competition for places is encouraging with various different players contributing to the attacking effort.
Jarrod Bowen managed an impressive brace, Tomas Soucek (should've) got the third, and Haller nodded home the fourth after coming off the bench in the final minutes.
🤐🤐🤐— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 27, 2020
A wonderful finish by Jarrod Bowen for West Ham! ⚒️
Excellent quick-thinking from Pablo Fornals 👏 pic.twitter.com/OfS4P3iC1k
While Michail Antonio was unplayable as the main striker, him and Bowen flanking Haller could replicate the impressive Frankfurt attack in which the French frontman scored 15 goals during the 2018/19 season.
Keeping Declan Rice is the priority
Declan Rice is the best player at West Ham, and the club need to do everything in their power to keep him as Chelsea prepare a bid heading into the last week of the transfer window.
The 21-year-old England international turned in another top-quality performance, the type the Claret & Blue faithful have become accustomed to since he broke onto the scene.
Declan Rice's game by numbers vs. Wolves:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2020
◉ 100% take-ons completed
◉ 100% aerial duels won
◎ Most ball recoveries
◎ Most tackles + interceptions
A captain's performance. pic.twitter.com/ysHeDw4Ipj
His partnership with Soucek in the centre of the park allows for an extra central defender to be deployed, the two athletic midfielders capable of covering enough ground between them.
Losing Rice in the last week of the window would be unthinkable, an impossible task to replace a player of his importance, and West Ham must resist the inevitable advance of their London rivals in the near future.
Signings are still needed
The club cannot afford to rest on their laurels despite the 4-0 win. It is clear that additions are still needed.
While the backline looked solid against Wolves, the Hammers need defensive reinforcements before the deadline on the 4th October.
The pursuit of Burnley’s James Tarkowski looks to have reached its inevitable conclusion, the defender set to move elsewhere following a series of rejected West Ham bids - a saga comparable to the 'chase' for Alexandre Lacazette, Carlos Bacca and William Carvalho in recent years.
Alternative centre backs whose names have circulated in rumours include Daniele Rugani and Wesley Fofana, however West Ham are also desperate for another right-back following the hamstring injury suffered to Ryan Fredericks during Sunday’s fixture.
#WestHam have shown interest for Daniele #Rugani. #Hammers have offered a loan with option to buy, but #Juventus prefer a permanent deal to sell the Italian centre-back and have asked €18M. Talks ongoing. #transfers #WHUFC— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) September 28, 2020
West Ham do have potential
All in all, the game against Wolves showed that the Hammers have the foundations for a decent Premier League side.
A beautiful watch 🤩— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 27, 2020
West Ham United 4-0 Wolves. Highlights 👇 pic.twitter.com/RTQc7fYy37
While supporters would not have expected to score four, or keep a clean sheet, West Ham fans know they have some very good players, and only need two or three signings to complete the team.
However, the next week will define the club’s season.
Incomings are required, but the priority is keeping Declan Rice as his departure would have serious implications both on and off the pitch.
With a Round of 16 cup tie against Everton also approaching in addition to the transfer deadline, important times lie ahead…