West Ham came within a couple of minutes of a point against Chelsea in their Premier League opener at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, but the truth is that the visitors rarely threatened the West London hosts.
James Collins’ second-half effort was the Hammers’ only shot on target in the game, highlighting the lack of incision in Slaven Bilic’s forward line.
Hoofing it long to an isolated Carroll, have I gone back two years?
— Samuel Thorne (@SamuelJThorne) August 15, 2016
Signing a new centre forward has reportedly been the London club’s transfer priority this summer but regardless of who led the line last night, the result would have been the same.
Andy Carroll battled bravely and provided a physical presence in leading the Clarets’ line – but the England international was completely isolated in the visiting attack.
Andy Carroll is absolutely isolated up there. No one running off him
— Ronnie Groom (@ronnieflamer) August 15, 2016
The inability of West Ham to get players close to Carroll meant the personal battles he did win came to nothing, while the Hammers struggled to maintain possession in their opponents’ half as a result.
The fielding of three central midfielders by Bilic was a clear attempt to nullify Chelsea’s midfield and robbed the visitors of an extra offensive player.
This is such a disjointed performance going forward for West Ham. Carroll so isolated. But 1 shot on target, 1 goal.
— Tim Collins (@TimDCollins) August 15, 2016
However, Enner Valencia, Andre Ayew and later Gokhan Tore all operated predominantly in wide areas and as such Carroll was completely isolated.
The introduction of Dimitri Payet gave the Hammers a bit more direction in the final third and closed the gap between the side’s centre forward and everyone else.
That said, Bilic will surely watch the game back and realise that getting men forward to support Carroll would have been wise and that this is something to improve upon in the near future.