Have West Ham United Finally Settled Into The London Stadium?
Background Photo By: David Holt, CC By 2.0
Over the last year, much has changed at West Ham United. Who could forget the shocking scenes at the London Stadium back in March 2018? Four supporters invaded the pitch during an embarrassing loss to Burnley. One took off with the flag. One was physically manhandled by captain Mark Noble. Co-owner David Sullivan was hit with a coin. Amongst the Premiership’s oldest clubs, yet they looked in complete disarray.
Fast forward about ten months after an emphatic London-Derby win against Arsenal, the stadium’s overall mood has been uplifted again. Bubbles keep flying around. Fans are loud and cheerful. Things look good again. This season itself, their first under new coach Manuel Pellegrini, has been filled with ups and downs. They’ve received absolute thrashings occasionally. Yet the former Manchester City manager has instilled much-needed hope into the side.
After years of embarrassment at the London Stadium, tagged as “cursed” by many Hammers’ fans, Pellegrini is slowly but surely transforming it into a fortress. In their first two seasons at their new home, West Ham only won fourteen out of thirty-eight Premier League games. The Irons often conceded much more than they scored. No wonder the banners were coming out in numbers towards last season’s closure. Many were right in questioning whether leaving Boleyn ground was the right decision.
However, Pellegrini’s introduction has brought back life into the club. The Hammers look a club on the rise once again. Despite certain voids being left to fill in the team, they’ve managed to rack up a commendable squad with smart signings. However, the man proficiently behind their rise is newest signing Felipe Anderson. Turning out to be among the buys of the summer, Anderson’s scored eight goals and assisted two so far this term. Half of those goals have come at the London Stadium. He’s loving life in his new home.
Anderson’s fantastic work’s been coupled with Marko Arnautovic’s brilliance. The unpredictable striker’s scored seven so far, five at home. These two have embodied the Hammers’ new attitude in not bow down to anyone, particularly on your own turf. Their combination in the 3-1 win against Manchester United, arguably their best moment under Pellegrini, was the prime example.
With the introduction of Anderson, Arnautovic’s deftness in goal and new-signing Samir Nasri, the Hammers are playing fluid football once again. Spurred on by the dependence of the old-guard, their prolific attacking core is working fabulously into entertaining fans week in, week out. Be it Anderson’s skill, Arnautovic’s goals, Michael Antonio’s pace or Nasri’s flair, the London Stadium shines brightly.
While West Ham’s home record this season is still not up to the mark like other top-half sides, they’ve at least kept things respectable. Five wins in twelve indicate an improvement over the past few horrific seasons. They’ve only scored seventeen at home, but had injuries and bad luck not plagued their season, many more could’ve been put in.
Defensively, a major improvement is due to Pellegrini’s work. West Ham have only conceded thirty-two goals, less than half what they conceded last season. However, with nineteen conceded in twelve home games, defensive improvements are required.
With both Merseyside clubs yet to visit, The Irons ride high on confidence after upsetting United and Arsenal. With a tactical manager like Pellegrini, anything is possible in a league like the Premier League. Anything gained from Liverpool will be bonus points. However, after this huge obstacle is overcome, West Ham needs to aim for maximum points.
Recent home performances are proof that 2019 might be their lucky year. Having won two in their last three home games in all competitions, the Hammers look to have made a mini-fortress out of the London stadium. Having developed the ability to grind out results and encouraging performances from breakout stars are further proof they could end the season in the top-half.
Suddenly, the environment in and outside their new home isn't so gloomy anymore. Fans are enjoying watching West Ham United play at home again. With an experienced candidate like Pellegrini guiding them, The Hammers are starting to embrace the London Stadium as they did to the Boleyn Ground for over a century.