|G'wan into the middle there, would ya!|
As Hammers fans try to get their happy heads around this increasingly fantastic season, a variety of explanations for our new swashbuckling style have surfaced. Some fans have attributed our success to the twin arrivals of Song and Kouyate into midfield, while others have highlighted the pace and power up front of Sakho and Valencia as the key factor.
However, the single biggest change amongst last season's heroes has been to the contribution of Stewart Downing who, in a new central role, has been simply majestic! Key passes, assists and goals galore, his sorry times left out on the wing for Liverfool are well behind him and even at the grand old age of 30 he has smashed his way back on to the International stage.
There has been much talk about the a rival of Teddy Sheringham as forward coach - with Speculation that he was 'forced' upon Allardyce while other suggestions posit that Sam personally selected Sheringham even though he was previously untried at coaching level!
Somewhere along the line a trial of Downing in the central role was mooted. Was this stimulated by the absences of Ravel Morrison and Kevin Nolan? We have yet to hear from the big man himself or from the surprisingly media-shy Sheringham but either way Hammers fans won't really care whether the new formation happened by fortune or design!
Let's hope we don't dispense with our recent aggressive formation when we travel to Stamford Bridge on St Stephen's day as our best chance of getting something from a high-flying Chelski outfit is to play to our strengths and go toe to toe with the Premiership leaders. Even though our "medieval" tactics captured a point last season, sitting back against a Chelsea side with so many lock pickers is unlikely to work. Having a pop at the sluggish Terry-Cahill central defensive pairing might be our best chance of coming away with something...
If we can get something from either Chelsea or The Gooners of Middle Arse then our European dream will be well and truly alive and kicking. Southampton recently found out that it's tough at the top but unlike West Ham they had enjoyed a remarkably gentle fixture list until December. We have already toppled Man City and The 'mighty' Liverpool...Let's hope our London neighbours can join the list.
Meanwhile, keep Downing in a central role and let's have the confidence to go with what has served us so well so far this season.