QPR victory was the real test of the new West Ham
09:59 06 October 2014
Our West Ham blogger believes Stewart Downing should be in the England squad
In many ways the fixture against QPR was the real test of this West Ham team.
Games against Liverpool and Man United aren’t going to define our season (until we start challenging for the title) home to a struggling QPR however and dealing with the expectation from fans, neutrals, pundits, journalists etc. And winning comfortably is an indicator of how far this side have progressed.
It may not have been the most convincing of performances, but the ultra attacking line-up named by Sam did what was required to secure the three points; and just as importantly secure the first clean sheet of the season.
The remit for Big Sam this season was to finish in the top 10 and play with a more expansive/expressive style and even Sam’s harshest critics would have to admit that so far he’s delivering the goods. The club’s decision to stick by him in the summer looks a very shrewd piece of business indeed.
The performance against QPR yet again shows how this team has evolved. Without playing particularly well, nowhere near the level reached against Liverpool and the second half against Manchester United we found ourselves 2-0 up; the goal threat we now carry means that even if we aren’t on top of our game we’re always liable to nick a goal or two.
Last season this simply was not the case; we were toiling with striker light formations or labouring with the likes of Carlton Cole/Mladen Petric/Modibo Maiga up front, thank God those days are over.
You’d struggle to find a harder working strike duo in the league than Enner Valencia and the goal machine that is Diafra Sakho. They chase lost causes, run the channels and constantly harass and smother opposition defences, not giving them a moments rest and right now Sakho is profiting from all the hard graft with an excellent strike rate of 5 goals in 5 starts, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before Valencia is finding the back of the net at a similar rate of knots.
The metamorphosis of this side from the previous campaign is personified by a man who simply should be in this current England squad; Stewart Downing, last season he had the odd good game (much like West Ham) this season however Downing’s movement, range of passing, clever through balls, etc. And most importantly consistency makes him and the rest of his team-mates a force to be reckoned with this season.
Burnley away next up after the international break and Sam’s boys will fancy themselves, but then they do most weeks these days.