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Talking Tactics: Sluggish Hammers must find adventurous side
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Matthew Storey
David Moyes must find a way to get West Ham firing after a stuttering start to the campaign
David Moyes must find a way to get West Ham firing after a stuttering start to the campaign

Optimism is in short supply at West Ham after a dismal start to the new Premier League season.

The Hammers have lost to Manchester City, Nottingham Forest and Brighton without scoring a single goal.

A 3-0 victory at Viborg on Thursday confirmed their spot in the Europa Conference League group stage with a 6-1 aggregate win, but the pressure is on.

Ahead of Sunday's trip to Aston Villa, we look at how David Moyes can kick-start the Hammers' season.


Moyes is not used to this sort of start — it is the first time in his long managerial career that he has lost his first three league games of a campaign.

It is four years since the Hammers suffered a hat-trick of defeats to begin their domestic season and 28 years since they failed to score in any of them, while the only time they did both was way back in 1971.

All of those numbers explain why a run to the Europa League semi-finals and coming close to another sixth-place finish last term is already feeling like a distant memory.

Defeats to City and Brighton seemed like mere formalities — the Hammers have never beaten the Seagulls in 11 Premier League clashes — but the Forest loss was less so.

Michail Antonio has struggled to get involved during West Ham's sluggish start to the campaign
Michail Antonio has struggled to get involved during West Ham's sluggish start to the campaign

Moyes ignoring the noise

Moyes is obviously concerned but is also fully aware that when his new signings are settled, the tide should turn.

The Scot said: "Alarm bells is too strong. We finished seventh and sixth in the past two seasons and let’s be fair, prior to that this club has been around these lower positions for a long time. 

"I am concerned but also having to bed people in. I am not quite sure we are ready yet. We haven’t got everything in place. There is a little bit of a change coming.

"We’re trying to get in a position where we can challenge again and that’s been difficult. But hopefully, our quality will come through in the coming weeks."

Forward stagnation

Michail Antonio’s 21 touches in the 2-0 defeat to Brighton were the least of all 22 starters on Sunday, while he completed just three passes in the final third of the pitch.

In their opening three games, the Hammers have actually averaged 12.67 shots per game, more than the 11.82 they did last term.

But last year their exciting attacking players such as Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini combined to attempt 14.34 take-ons per game — a number that is down to 8.67 this term.

They are yet to create a single big chance in the Premier League after averaging 1.37 per 90 minutes in 2021-22.

The adventure has gone from their game. Moyes must work out how to get that back.

Moving Antonio out wide and playing Gianluca Scamacca central, putting Maxwel Cornet into the starting XI or even changing formation to play five at the back with two wing-backs are all options for the 59-year-old.

West Ham were toothless going forward against Brighton
West Ham were toothless going forward against Brighton

Defensive lapses

It has not been plain-sailing in defence either for the Hammers — though that is not necessarily surprising.

Ben Johnson was forced to fill in at centre-half for the first two games after new signing Nayef Aguerd joined Craig Dawson and Angel Ogbonna on the injury list.

Thilo Kehrer was then catapulted into the starting XI against Brighton following his move from Paris Saint-Germain and after giving away a first-half penalty, Moyes admitted it was too soon for the 25-year-old.

Another week of training will help Kehrer, while the arrival of Emerson Palmieri from Chelsea means the Hammers have more versatility at the back.

Take responsibility

It was interesting to hear Moyes reference a lack of leaders on the pitch after the defeat to Brighton.

He said: "We have a different type of team and we lost Mark Noble, who was important to us.

"Although he didn’t play much [towards the end of his career], he was important around the club, so small things can make a big difference sometimes.

"Today, you’re looking at that performance and thinking [of some players], 'You take responsibility, you take ownership of it'. I could name a few who should have taken it on."

New skipper Declan Rice appeared to be burrowing a lone furrow in that regard and will need help from other senior stars.

Moyes can make tweaks in the selection and formation, but it is also down to the players to roll their sleeves up and show the mentality that has stood them in such good stead over the past two seasons.


Premier LeagueWest Ham United
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