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By Matt Rossleigh, London24 West Ham blogger
Friday, October 12, 2012
Of the three promoted teams from last season you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would disagree with you that West Ham have made the best start in the Premier League.
Name: Matt Rossleigh
Twitter handle: @Matt_Rossleigh
Regular attendee living in London this year from Australia
Favourite player: Mark Noble
Most memorable game: 2012 Championship Playoff Final
Predicted Finish: Mid-table
Three wins, two draws and two losses is impressive but the next two weeks are crucial for the club – including tonight’s World Cup qualifier between England and San Marino.
It is already noticeable how important Andy Carroll is to the formation which manager Sam Allardyce prefers, and if anything were to happen to the striker tonight at Wembley then it would put a serious dent in West Ham’s bid for top flight survival.
In reserve Big Sam has Carlton Cole – it’s his birthday today - who has struggled in the top flight as a lone striker, and Modibo Maiga is untested in that role and may be of better use as a winger.
Why are these two weeks so crucial then? Well if you fast-forward past the next fortnight and have a glance at the Hammers’ fixture list, this is what you see:
"It is already noticeable how important Andy Carroll is to the formation which manager Sam Allardyce prefers"
Manchester City (H)
Stoke City (H)
Manchester United (A)
Now of those seven matches how many points can you realistically see West Ham achieving? Anything over six or seven would be a bonus, I’d say, and the club must prepare for the possibility of losing a majority of those.
That’s why Southampton at home next weekend and Wigan away the following Saturday are so crucial. If four or six points were to be taken it would mean there would be less pressure for the matches against the big guns in November.
Lose both those games and the Hammers could be dragged back towards the scrap at the bottom, especially with the tough fixtures to follow.
There’ll be a bit of extra spice in those two matches with the rivalry between West Ham and the Saints during last season’s Championship promotion race, and the curse of the DW Stadium, when the Hammers last played Wigan in the Premier League – although only a handful from the current squad were there when the club was relegated.
If the team plays like they did against Arsenal last week then there is a real possibility of upsetting some of the big boys. The Hammers had a great chance to at least take a point from the Gunners and if so many chances weren’t squandered then it could have been a famous victory.
If Mohamed Diame, Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Carroll stay fit then there is enough quality to not be involved in a relegation battle this season. However recent developments on Merseyside in the past 24 hours with Fabian Borini’s injury could throw up the possibility of a loan recall for Carroll.
I guess if that were to happen I’d have to write a blog on where West Ham’s goals will come from.