Connect with us


Bilic must find midfield balance for West Ham to improve

Former West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic

After the summer signing of Javier Hernandez, the main question among West Ham fans was whether the Mexican forward would play up front by himself or as part of a double act with Andy Carroll or Diafra Sakho.

This obviously will be dictated by the formation that the manager selects, with the Croat alternating between different systems so far this season.

All signs over the last month have been that Bilic wants to field both Hernandez and Carroll in the same team, but doing so impacts upon West Ham’s options in midfield.

With Manuel Lanzini, Marko Arnautovic, Andre Ayew and Michail Antonio all fighting for attacking positions behind the striker or strikers, the inevitability is that some top-class players are going to miss out.

On Saturday against Burnley, Bilic opted for a back four and fielded three of the four afore-mentioned attacking midfielders in a 4-4-2 system of sorts.

However, with Cheikhou Kouyate as the only holding player, West Ham looked top-heavy on paper, with the Senegalese enforcer clearly having the potential to be over-run.

Carroll’s reckless red card meant the travelling support did not get even half an hour to see how the formation would work, but moving forward it appears Bilic has a real choice to make.

If the West Ham boss is intent on playing two strikers, whether it is in a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 set-up, there really is only room for two attacking midfielders – at most.

With Antonio one of the first names on the teamsheet and Lanzini undroppable when on form, there is potential for club-record signing Arnautovic to end up on the bench alongside Ayew.

However, if Bilic wants all three of his main attacking midfielders on the pitch, either Carroll or Hernandez need to lead the line – not both.

As industrious as Kouyate is, having only one dedicated central midfielder in the team will lead to West Ham being stretched against better opposition and as such Bilic needs to keep tweaking if he is to get the Hammers playing to their potential.

More in Opinion