Most were excited to see Marko Arnautovic back in the West Ham United team for the trip to Burnley but was it actually a big mistake?
West Ham were on a fine run of five wins from six games in December when they made the trip to Turf Moor.
It meant the Hammers have picked up more points (15) in December than any other month in their Premier League history.
The Hammers’ form was all the more remarkable considering Manuel Pellegrini was nursing a Premier League-worst injury record.
One of the biggest names on that list recently was Arnautovic.
Rare Pellegrini clanger?
So when news filtered through that the Austrian was fit and available for the game against Burnley many felt even more confident of a result.
But did Pellegrini drop a clanger by bringing Arnautovic back too soon.
The star was largely ineffective and looked way off the pace.
His presence also appeared to gave a detrimental impact on the workrate of his teammates.
West Ham looked less of a team with Arnie
Key to West Ham’s recent success has been the fact they have all been willing to do the hard yards for one another.
Perhaps subconsciously Arnautovic’s return to the side saw his teammates do less running than they have been having grown used to the striker doing a lot of the so-called dirty work.
Dropping those levels in the Premier League usually spells one thing for West Ham, defeat.
West Ham looked less of a team with Arnie back in the side.
Noble for Obiang another mistake
Pellegrini could also be accused of having made a similar mistake with captain Mark Noble. The skipper blows hot and cold for the Hammers.
And he was extremely poor at Burnley, spending most of the game chasing shadows.
Pellegrini blamed fatigue for the defeat (Sky Sports).
It was puzzling why Pellegrini felt it necessary to drop Pedro Obiang. The classy midfielder would have been fresh having hardly played this season due to injury.
Obiang was key to West Ham’s win at Southampton. His excellent forward passing and positive play in the transition going largely unnoticed.
The 2-0 defeat could have been five or six such was Burnley’s dominance.
It was hugely disappointing for Hammers fans who would have seen their side jump up to seventh with a victory over the league’s bottom club.