English Premier League Midseason Report: West Ham

| by World Soccer Reader

Pts: 20 (4-9-8)
Preseason Prediction: 14th
Accuracy: Pretty Good
Preseason overview:
I’m somewhat surprised that Avram Grant has not looked to bolster the defense more after there were some disastrous miscues last season, but maybe he thinks he can take the existing squad and mold them into a better unit. I’m a big fan of Carlton Cole, I’ve seen him just be too much to handle for even the best of Premiership defenses, and if he’s healthy and motivated (two things he has lacked in the past), West Ham could ride him to a lot of goals.

West Ham fans are not always the most forgiving bunch, but after the uncertainty of the past 18 months or so, things appear to be stable – both off and on the field – and that should be enough to keep the Hammers much further away from the relegation zone than they were last year. But as for a run up the table? I really don’t see that for 2010-11, either.

Overview now:
I was right (and think I still am) about the defense part, but I think I was off on Cole, who has not been good this season, and has only made 12 starts, despite (mostly) being healthy. He may find his way to the bench more if Robbie Keane comes, as it looks like he will. Avram Grant – at least recently – has found a way to get results from unusual places, Freddie Sears and Junior Stanislas have both been dangerous on the wings, and he earlier had Jonathan Spector playing in central midfield to good effect. But the back is still soft, and that will be their biggest problem going forward.

Preseason best new signing :
Pablo Barrera – The concern about him adjusting from the Mexican league to England has, unfortunately for West Ham, been realized. He’s made 6 starts and 13 appearances for the Hammers, but hasn’t recorded a goal or assist in the league, and seems to be phased out a bit of late as well. He’s still a nice attacking option off the bench, but West Ham expected a little more when they signed him.

Preseason key player:
Scott Parker – You know what you’re going to get out of Parker. He’s the only player to start all 20 league games, and has 4 goals while getting fouled a team-high 36 times. He’s going to run around, be a pest, and a guy you would love to have on your side every time you take the field.

Key player now:
Robert Green – It seemed like it took him a few games to recover from his World Cup nightmare, but lately, he’s been very solid, making the saves he’s supposed to, and showing confidence for a backline that desperately needs him to.

Inside the numbers:
59 – Somehow Victor Obinna, who’s been lively at least as a striker, has attempted 59 shots and scored only once. Only 14 of his shots have actually been on frame, which might be worse.

They obviously look better in their last few games, and should score goals. But I can’t look at their defense and be very confident that they are going to stay out of the drop zone. I could be wrong.
Prediction: 20th

Read the rest of Ray Curren’s team-by-team midseason review series here.