The new football season brings along a fresh sense of optimism and I am often buoyant about West Ham’s chances. I watched the first 55 minutes on Saturday but elected to turn the television off when Gabriel Jesus scored City’s third which was eventually ruled out by VAR. I feared the worst after Sterling’s 51st minute goal, and you could tell the team were deflated by it.
I opted to go for a walk instead of watching the remainder of the second half, and I think I made a good decision. I could discuss the match but others have already written very good pieces on it. The immediate thoughts after receiving the full time result notification on my phone were definitely negative. However, the more I have read and thought about Saturday’s game, the more I think we must accept City’s brilliance as opposed to a totally abject performance from Pellegrini’s men. Guardiola’s team are outrageously clinical and you only needed to look at a bench that consisted of Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Cancelo etc. to know we were in for an extremely tough afternoon. City are a marvellous team but the game certainly highlighted areas we must improve on…
After the club announced Masuaku’s contract renewal, Pellegrini stated that he (Masuaku) ‘_is a player with excellent technical ability… we look forward to seeing him make a big contribution in the future._’ This quote goes a long way to explaining why the club did not invest in the left back position as seemingly the manager is happy moving forward with Masuaku and Cresswell. Cresswell had a poor game against the champions with four of the five goals coming from his left flank. It appears that the 2015 Hammer of the year has not been the same player following various niggling injuries. The explosive pace of Kyle Walker emphasised Cresswell’s inability to cope with opposing full backs and wingers with power and speed. Overall, neither Cresswell or Masuaku instil a great amount of confidence from a defensive point of view, therefore I would select Masuaku as he’s quicker and now offers more on the attacking end.
One of the positives from Saturday was the team’s new talisman, Sebastien Haller. The 25 year old won 2 aerial duels, had 90% pass accuracy and completed 4 tackles across the 90 minutes. The Frenchman will hope that against Brighton he receives better service as the team can carve out more opportunities than against the Cityzens. If the creative players as well as the full backs can provide good chances for Haller, I have every confidence he will score the goals.I’m sure that upon reflection most fans will view Brighton away as the season properly starting! The result against Graham Potter’s men may well determine whether we are in for a distinctly average season wherein we lose to physical sides with less talent than us. Although, a good performance and a win against what appears to be a revitalised Brighton side would show character and provide optimism.
Under Chris Hughton’s stewardship, we had not beaten Brighton as he set the team up in a deep block looking for goals from set pieces. Glen Murray consistently scored against us and games against Brighton were becoming extremely frustrating. Speaking from limited experience and clearly at a much lower level of football, when you have to break down a team who are content to sit deep and counter, it can be very difficult. I have no doubt that Pellegrini told the team to continue dominating the ball and chances will come, and you definitely have to be patient. Under Graham Potter, Brighton look like a far more expansive side and they will try to keep the ball and attack us which may well favour us despite us struggling against them in the past. We could be in for an end to end game at the Amex stadium, and I’m quietly confident we might leave with 3 points.
Ultimately, while I think it could be easy to write the City defeat off entirely and just praise a magnificent team, I think and hope the manager knows we must work on the defence and staying concentrated for 90 minutes. However, City will beat numerous teams by 5 or 6 goals as in my opinion they comfortably finish ahead of Liverpool to win a third consecutive Premier League, so we should not lose too much sleep! I hope that Masuaku plays on Saturday, I hope that Anderson starts, I hope that Glen Murray gets sent off in the early exchanges so he cannot score against us! I also hope that Haller scores a hat-trick and we leave Brighton with an impressive 3 points and clean sheet, but as we all know it’s the hope that kills you…
My six a side team won 2-0 on Monday evening having lost last week in the first league game. Given that it’s holiday season, a few of my friends will not be available for the coming weeks, so numbers will be thin!
Hope everyone is well, and has a good week.