West Ham expect to be without centre-back Angelo Ogbonna for the rest of the season due to injury
West Ham expect to be without centre-back Angelo Ogbonna for the rest of the season due to injury

West Ham’s thrilling 3-2 win over Liverpool was a statement of intent — but it came at a cost.

Midway through the first half of that memorable triumph at the London Stadium, centre-back Angelo Ogbonna was forced off.

It was later revealed he had suffered a season-ending knee injury, for which he has since undergone surgery.

The Hammers had been impressive in the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup before that setback — but can they sustain it going forward?

Ahead of tonight’s Europa League trip to Rapid Wien, we look at what the loss of Ogbonna means for David Moyes’ side.

Hammer blow

Until his injury, Ogbonna had been an ever-present in West Ham’s impressive start to the Premier League season.

Before the 33-year-old’s operation, Moyes heralded his importance by saying: "He’s a great boy and a great team player.

"He’s someone we love having around and more importantly his performances have been excellent for us. It’s a really sad moment for him and also for us.

"I don’t think there is a quick return. I think there is a period of recovery time that has to be taken, so I think it will be hard for Angelo to be back this season."

A weapon in both boxes

West Ham's shots conceded map shows they have not faced many efforts on target from inside their penalty area
West Ham's shots conceded map shows they have not faced many efforts on target from inside their penalty area

West Ham’s defensive numbers may not be earth-shattering but Ogbonna’s presence had been key in making them hard to break down.

Indeed, they had lost just two of their first 17 games of the season in all competitions before a 1-0 defeat to Wolves in the first game he missed.

The Hammers have been strong on set-pieces at both ends of the pitch too. 

Only six Premier League teams have given up a lower expected goals total from dead-ball situations, while only four have created more themselves.

It is there that they will miss Ogbonna most acutely, with his organisation particularly important.

He also highlighted his attacking worth by heading in the winner away to Everton last month.

Without the Italian, there were one or two moments of vulnerability from corners in Saturday’s defeat at Wolves.

Testing the depth

West Ham defender Kurt Zouma wins a lot of headers in his own penalty box
West Ham defender Kurt Zouma wins a lot of headers in his own penalty box

Craig Dawson replaced Ogbonna against Liverpool and came into the starting XI last time out, partnering Kurt Zouma on both occasions.

In previous matches, the 31-year-old has been used as a late substitute to help see out one-goal leads. A ploy that has worked on all three occasions.

Ogbonna’s lay-off means Dawson — who has started three out of four games in Europe — can no longer play the role of defensive super-sub.

More worryingly, West Ham now only have one senior centre-back left in reserve — Issa Diop.

Moyes does not have a lot of room for manoeuvre and another long-term injury in that department could spell disaster for a season that had begun so well.

Spinning plates

Moyes’ side are fourth in the league, top of their Europa League group and into the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time in four years.

Things could not have gone much better for the East Londoners so far. But can they realistically keep competing as they have been on all fronts with the FA Cup looming too?

A top-four finish means Champions League football. But so does winning the Europa League — West Ham have options and Moyes can adjust accordingly. 

Entering a crunch period of the season, we are about to find out whether the Glaswegian coach will be able to maintain the successful balancing act.

Post-Christmas shopping?

Craig Dawson shone on loan at West Ham from Championship side Watford last season
Craig Dawson shone on loan at West Ham from Championship side Watford last season

Moyes’ men play 11 times between now and the end of 2021, so plenty could change before the transfer window opens on New Year’s Day.

With Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky recently purchasing a 27% stake in the club, West Ham might have the means to bolster Moyes’ defensive options.

A temporary signing would appear to make the most sense having had joy from going down that avenue in the recent past — Dawson made the unusual move of going up a division on loan when he first joined from Watford in October last year.

Alternatively, the Hammers were linked with Burnley’s James Tarkowski in the summer before signing Zouma from Chelsea.

Tarkowski, 29, is out of contract in June, so the Clarets could decide to cash in early.

What is for sure, Moyes will definitely want to have plenty of defensive Irons in the fire.

Tags

West Ham UnitedPremier LeagueAngelo Obinze Ogbonna

Related Articles

LiveScore logo

LiveScore: Live Sport Updates

Football Scores & Sports News

ls-logo-roundedGet instant notifications with the LiveScore app
Download now
app-storegoogle-play