The final piece to my trio of articles today, explores the striker I believe should play when everyone is fit.
This is another very difficult decision, as the one place could arguably go to four different people. Andy Carroll provides tremendous aerial ability and a real threat, and a pain, to opposition defenders when he feels like it. Nikica Jelavic makes the weakest case of the four, but contains strong aerial ability, a never-give-up type work rate, and boasts 2 goals in his last 4 run outs (Of which he only started 1). Diafra Sakho has a serious eye for goal, is relatively quick and able in the air, and does unsung, often unnoticed hard work putting pressure on defenders, making the job for those behind him that bit easier. Finally, Enner Valencia, though occasionally frustrating in terms of first touch and being offside more than you’d like, is a proper threat when he’s on form. He’s quick, his leap is tremendous, he can finish, he runs anything down, and he can’t half hit it from distance at times. Recent braces against both Bournemouth and Manchester City only help his cause. Again, very much open to debate, but my personal pick is Diafra Sakho.
With the fluid and exciting football we now play under Bilic, I feel like Carroll isn’t mobile enough to fully compliment this, and neither is Jelavic, who while lovely to have isn’t on the same level as the other three. Carroll is a great threat to bring on with 20 minutes left or so, as he can run himself into the ground for them 20 minutes making a defender’s life hell. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to be a centre back who’s been given the run around for 70 minutes, is a bit knackered, and then he sees Andy Carroll on with fresh legs to bully him for the final 20. However, in my eyes we are more effective starting with someone more mobile, someone that compliments players like Payet and Lanzini behind him better, someone who will run the opposition centre backs into the ground doing thankless and unnoticed work for 70 minutes, and that’s when we can bring Andy on and play to his strengths, namely stick it on his nut and let him win it in the air.
The more mobile player that is chosen to start can be either Sakho or Enner, but I’d choose Diafra simply as I feel he is more reliable. He seems to have fewer off days than Enner, and is naturally stronger so can retain the ball better when it comes up to him, important for a lone striker, whereas Enner at times gets knocked off too easily, inviting further pressure onto us as he keeps losing the ball. Don’t get me wrong, Enner can certainly do this job as he proved with his brace yesterday, but Diafra regularly does this job with no problems, and nicks himself a few goals in the process. This is why I’d choose him over Enner, but the beauty is that once Diafra runs himself into the ground, Enner can come on with fresh legs to do the same job if need be!
So, in summary the team is Adrián, Tomkins, Reid, Collins, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble, Payet, Antonio, Lanzini and Sakho. A lot of people may agree with this team, a lot of people may make a few minor changes in some positions, but in my own personal opinion looking at current ability, not so much in the future but for right now, that is what I feel is our strongest eleven. Let’s just pray it’s not too long before all our injury problems are sorted, as that’s as strong a team as I have ever seen in my years watching West Ham, and not only that, but it’d surely give any team in the country a game.