West Ham struggling to make case for the defence for Chelsea clash
PUBLISHED: 19:30 22 November 2013
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West Ham face a defensive crisis ahead of the visit of Chelsea tomorrow.
Romania defender Razvan Rat is set to miss the game with a hamstring injury picked up in his country’s World Cup play-off defeat to Greece, while niggles forced Joey O’Brien and James Collins out of national team duty with the Republic of Ireland and Wales respectively.
While Hammers boss Sam Allardyce hopes the latter two will be available for the clash against their London rivals, he admits it is a concern considering their continuing problems in front of goal.
“The defence has been our mainstay apart from last time against Norwich,” said Allardyce.
“It’s just our luck that it’s our defenders who got injured. Until we score more goals we’ll have to rely on them.”
Winston Reid is sidelined after undergoing an operation on his ankle injury last week, while George McCartney is still lacking match fitness to add to the Hammers’ defensive woes.
At the other end of the pitch Allardyce is frustrated that he can’t get a return date for record signing Andy Carroll from specialists in Holland as he recuperates from his heel injury.
But he is confident joint chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan will back him in the January transfer window if he identifies the right targets.
“I was expecting Andy back a couple of weeks into the season, but it’s been setback after setback.
“We tried to sign strikers in the summer but nothing came through. I know we haven’t got a prolific scorer at the moment, we’ve been outplaying teams without winning.
“I think the club will back me in January. The chairmen tried their very best in August but the players we were after went elsewhere or signed a new contract at their club.”
The Hammers have kept six clean sheets in their 11 Premier League games to date. Conversely they’ve scored just nine, an outlay which leaves them out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
But the boss thinks West Ham can repeat last season’s victory over Chelsea at Upton Park – if they get their tactics right.
Carlton Cole, the inspirational Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga clinched a 3-1 win last December after trailing to a Juan Mata goal at half time.
“They’re a top team with some top players but their last two results show they have defensive weaknesses,” said Allardyce.
“We need to be on top of our game. Anything less and it will be incredibly difficult for us but we can cause them one or two problems. Newcastle showed there’s a vulnerability if you get your tactics right.
“But we need the results to follow the performances, but that’s not good enough.
“We’re in a results business. It’s what I’m paid to do, it’s what the players are paid to do.”