The busy end to the Premier League season continues with a trip away to West Ham. What tactics can Chelsea expect from the Hammers?
Stop if this sounds familiar; it was supposed to be West Ham’s year. Or rather, it was at least supposed to be a year where West Ham did not have to worry. They had a manager with a pedigree, a team full of good players (that did not go together but more on that later), and they seemingly had their ducks in a row to make midtable at least.
They even started well with only two losses before October. And then the wheels came off. Between October and New Year;s, West Ham won just twice. Manuel Pellegrini was sacked and replaced by the man he replaced at the club: David Moyes.
Now, Moyes probably deserved the job based on his first stint and would probably have gotten it had someone like Pellegrini not be available. But that was then and it did not prepare him for the current job even just a short time later. If anything, West Ham has gotten worse and they are circling the drain. So what tactics can Chelsea expect?
Generally, West Ham lines up in a 4-2-3-1 formation but they occasionally veer into 4-4-2 territory. The two formations are more alike than different, depending on personnel, so the difference is minimal.
Due to West Ham’s nature as one of the Premier League’s Frankenstein teams, it is hard to pin them down to one particular style, especially offensively. They have wingers who love to dribble and take players on. They have strikers who will try to take players on but they also have target men. They have midfielders who want the ball and then old fashioned ones that want nothing to do with it.
That being said, West Ham does tend to understand their wingers will carry them as their most technical players. They will attempt to give them the ball early and often and hope they can create something for a striker in the box to convert. It often fails, leaving them caught out for a counter.
Most of what West Ham has done, especially since Moyes’ return, has been damage limitation. They will focus on the defensive side of things if only to eke out a point. But again, they are a mishmash of players and while they try to drive forward, they will simply be left open.
All of this is not to mention that West Ham just seems like a whipped team right now. They do not look like a team that particularly cares if they are relegated. Or rather, they do not seem to be aware of the possibility. West Ham does have that “too big to fail” aura about them even as they sit level on points with the relegation zone.
If Chelsea goes in and puts West Ham to the sword, they will likely fold to that will. Even if the Blues do not, West Ham will at most be looking for a lucky break. Frank Lampard’s side needs to be aware of that as they look to continue their momentum after the break.