Rewind to the last weekend of Premier League football; Liverpool hosted West Ham. The main shock was undoubtedly the thorough and exquisitely pulled off reality check served up to Liverpool and their fans via a 0-3 defeat. The secondary shock, well, reality check, for West Ham fans was the sorry state of their substitutes bench which boasted only one senior player in Matt Jarvis.
Despite the Hammer’s having added to their squad they have severely lacked the sort of depth which could lend them to finishing higher up the Premier League table. Also, a lack of depth in their squad is ultimately what ended up punishing them in their brief Europa League Qualifying campaign. To highlight just how thin the squad is, making up the bench for that Liverpool alongside Jarvis was; Raphael Spiegel (22), Reece Oxford (16), Elliot Lee (20), Josh Cullen (19), Martin Samuelsen (18) and Kyle Knoyle (18).
The club looked to have finished in the window apart from getting a back-up striker in so hammer’s fans weren’t holding their breath for a busy day on deadline day of the transfer window. Oh, how wrong we were. The club sowed up deals for Nikica Jelavic, Michail Antonio, Victor Moses and Alex Song.
Now, a look at the West Ham squad, and it seems as thought Slaven Bilic could well have a lot of selection problems coming up. Here, are a few of the line ups that could utilised now that the Hammer’s squad is looking talented, healthy and, very, competitive.
Bilic so far has seemed to favour a system, which is a fluid mix between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3, so, for the upcoming Home game the squad and line-up could look a little like this if he chooses to keep it the same.
This starting XI could well stay the same, however, there are a few changes that Bilic could well make now that the squad is stronger. Those changes would primarily see the Hammers’ XI looking more attack-minded rather than having the three more defensive minded midfielders in the middle.
Also, despite Lanzini’s key-role in the Liverpool win, he could well make way for a more out-and-out wing man in either Victor Moses or Michail Antonio. The latter this season is in fine form, so if he could instantly bring his Championship form into the Premier League he’d have to be a serious contender to start. The other possible change could see Carl Jenkinson return to the right back spot, however, James Tomkins has been thoroughly impressive there this season. If the starting XI is kept as it was in the last game, the bench could look mightily impressive.
Hypothetical Subs bench; Spiegel, Oxford, Jenkinson/Tomkins, Antonio, Moses, Jelavic, Carroll,
Looking further afoot is where Slaven Bilic will undoubtedly find himself in the best dilemma afforded to football managers; he will have a squad jam-packed full of talent. As is visible on the below graphic, 4-4-2 chosen as easiest to demonstrate, there is a wealth of depth within the squad…
What is going to be the most interesting will be the CM positions. With Alex Song having rejoined on loan, once he is fit (which is expected to be mid-October I believe) there will be an almighty battle for a starting spot. Song, Obiang, Noble, Kouyate will all be battling to fill in the central midfield berths. With more attacking players signed, it gives us the option to be able flit between a more defensive set-up or using less of the defence minded midfielders and instead favouring some of the more attack minded ones within the squad.On the attack minded note, we now have a wealth of attacking midfielders too; Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses, Michail Antonio, Mauro Zarate and depending on whether you class him as a winger or a striker, Enner Valencia. Managing to fit these players in is going to be a serious challenge to Bilic, however, a challenge which should ultimately benefit the club with having such options on the bench and in reserve now.The Hammers’ should really feel the benefit of the money invested into the playing squad. Not only in the Premier League, but, also in the cup competitions too. In recent years they’ve had to prioritise competitions in favour of stretching themselves too thin – however, this year, they could well challenge on all domestic fronts.