Hammers News takes a look at West Ham’s squad depth in all 11 positions now the transfer window is closed, will it be enough?
Deadline day came and went with no new arrivals at West Ham during the January window.
And it is fair to say a large section of the fanbase were extremely unhappy. Supporters felt it showed a lack of ambition particularly given the clear holes in West Ham’s squad and how much there is to play for in the second half of the campaign.
Avoiding injuries to key players will be paramount for West Ham over the next four months.
Because beyond that, in some positions, there are some glaring weaknesses.
There are some positions where West Ham are better stocked than others.
So let’s look at West Ham’s squad depth in all 11 positions now the transfer window is over.
This graphic below shows West Ham’s realistic options for each position.
There would also be an element of flexibility, particularly in attacking positions and at full-back with certain players able to play on either side and in different positions.
West Ham’s squad depth in all 11 positions now the transfer window is closed
For example Moyes sees Jarrod Bowen as back-up to Antonio up front. Bowen can play left or right, so could Antonio, so could Said Benrahma and so on. The same with Vladimir Coufal and Ben Johnson being able to operate at left-back if needed.
Indeed many fans would rather see one of them at LB if Aaron Cresswell was unable to play because they are undoubtedly a better option than Arthur Masuaku.
There are players like Ryan Fredericks and the goalkeepers who miss the cut. But you could easily argue that he is a better option – with his pace – than Andriy Yarmolenko on the right wing as back-up to Bowen.
There are some positions where West Ham are better stacked than others. This graphic below shows the Hammers’s first and second choice options for each position and excludes the majority of the club’s academy stars who are covered separately below.
Goalkeeper: West Ham have two top class goalkeepers and capable back-up in the shape of former international Darren Randolph. David Martin is also in the background for emergencies. Very little drop off in quality here between the first and second choice. So much so there is fervent debate over who should be first or second choice.
Central defence: The loss of Angelo Ogbonna has been huge for so many reasons. His quality, leadership and being left-footed were all big factors for West Ham. The left sided CB position should be much less of an issue now Kurt Zouma is back. Him and Craig Dawson would be every West Ham fan’s first choice from what is available. Diop is then next in line to fill in on either side with academy youngster Aji Alese almost certainly next in line after that as he is left-footed and has impressed when called upon in the first team. It is clear West Ham need a long-term solution to the left-sided CB position hence the interest in Duje Caleta Car and now reportedly William Salaba. They should – with Declan Rice and Alex Kral also able to operate as CBs – have enough to make it through the season.
Full-backs: West Ham have plenty of options at right-back. Coufal and Johnson are both excellent on their day although the former has struggled to hit the heights of his debut season. Then there is Fredericks too. On the left Cresswell is another absolutely crucial player. Without him the drop off to second choice Masuaku is huge. The DR Congo international should not even be considered as a defender but until West Ham sign a new left-back that is the situation. As touched on above, though, Moyes would almost certainly use Fredericks, Coufal or Johnson at LB over Masuaku on many occasions.
Central midfield: The dynamic of Rice and Tomas Soucek has changed this season due to the former being given freedom to roam. West Ham are not necessarily a better team for it either. It has had a massive impact on Soucek’s natural game which guaranteed goals. When they are working in tandem, though, Rice and Soucek are one of the best CM partnerships in the Premier League. The drop off after that to Mark Noble and Kral is pretty huge. But again Moyes is more likely to use Manuel Lanzini or Pablo Fornals in there ahead of those two as proved already this season.
Right-wing: The drop off from the brilliant Bowen to the barely bothered Yarmolenko is seismic. Hence the suggestion Fredericks would even be a better option. Several other West Ham players could operate off the right but none as well as Bowen who is one of the most in-form players in the league this season.
Left-wing: Benrahma, Fornals, Nikola Vlasic and to a degree if needed Lanzini too can all operate here. And with Masuaku as a potential back-up in the more advanced role too the Hammers are well stocked on this side.
Attacking midfield: At the moment Lanzini has the shirt but again that position could be filled by Fornals, Vlasic and even Benrahma.
Striker: Antonio is West Ham’s only senior striker and even he was converted from a winger. Moyes sees Bowen as back-up but then you have to fill in the void on the right. Unfathomable that a Premier League team, playing in Europe, has one striker. But Moyes seems happy enough to wait until he can get the right man so we have to trust him.
Academy back-up: Moyes is not afraid to blood youngsters at West Ham. But earning your place and keeping it are two entirely different things. Up front Sonny Perkins could become an option but he will not be used willy nilly by the Hammers boss. Fans have wanted to see more game time for Armstrong Oko-Flex and defenders Harrison Ashby, Jamal Baptiste and tigerish midfielder Dan Chesters all look good prospects. Conor Coventry will need to impress on loan at MK Dons to have a future at the club beyond the summer.
Will it be enough?
Do West Ham have enough here to turn a hugely promising season into an unforgettable one?
If all the key players stay fit for the rest of the season then it is possible. But it is a big ask when you look at it on paper like that because in too many areas the drop off from first choice to second choice is too big.
One thing is for certain, though, Moyes will need to be busy in the summer if he wants to continue to progress.
With contracts expiring and the second oldest squad in the Premier League, West Ham will need to revamp in line with the manager’s policy of signing young, hungry players.