Few would have predicted it before the start of the season, the odds would have been astronomical, but it’s happened, despite spending close to £100 million in the summer transfer window and hiring a manager with a proven track record, West Ham have made their worst start to a league season in 92 campaigns.
This was confirmed after Manuel Pellegrini’s men fell to an agonising late Premier League defeat to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers at London stadium on Saturday afternoon, their fourth loss in succession to begin the term.
The only other time that the club has suffered the pain of defeat in the opening four league games was in 2010/2011 under Avram Grant, with the Hammers going on to be relegated to the Championship.
That year, the first four PL opponents were Aston Villa, away from home, Bolton Wanderers at home, Manchester United away and Chelsea at Upton Park, statistically tougher teams than they have faced in 2018/2019.
So far this term, the Irons visited Liverpool on the opening day, before welcoming AFC Bournemouth to London Stadium, following that by visiting arsenal in North London and then hosting the Wanderers, in the aforementioned encounter.
This means that this season is indeed the worst league start in the best part of 100 years, but just what has gone wrong for Pellegrini so far in East London? Maybe the statistics will tell us as we carry out a statistical tactical analysis for his West Ham.
Despite leading twice, when you glance at the wins column on the PL table, you see the first of a number of big fat zeros for the Hammers, who would have been expected to have at least four to six points by now and at least, one win.
While away matches at Liverpool and Arsenal will always be counted as “bonus games,” they did lead and should have come away from the Emirates Stadium with more, Pellegrini’s men also led against the Cherries and should have taken care of Wolves with the chances they had.
There is simply no hiding away from this stat, the damning four losses from four matches, with defeats not exactly by slim margins either, in order, 4-0, 1-2, 3-1 and 0-1.
It all started off with the four-goal drubbing at Anfield to the title-contending Reds and was followed up by the comeback defeat to Eddie Howe’s men on home soil, another comeback loss reared its head the Saturday after against their London rivals, before the most-recently one-goal loss.
Sure, the East Londoners are yet to win a Premier League match under Pellegrini, if you told that to someone pre-season, they would have diligently claimed that they would have at least collected a draw before the first International break.
This hasn’t been the case and on three of the four occasions, they haven’t looked like getting one, way off against the two top-six sides and failing to press Bournemouth enough late on in the match, coming seconds from a draw against Santo’s side.
Goals Scored: 2
The fact is that the Hammers just haven’t scored enough goals so far, squandering many chances and at other times, failing to create the adequate amount of them.
Even the man who has scored both of the club’s goals so far, stand-in skipper Marko Arnautovic with a first-half penalty in the first home game of the campaign and a long-range strike in North London, has been guilty of missing a fair few, this issue clearly must be sorted sooner rather than later.
Goals Conceded: 10
However, attacking surely wouldn’t have been so much of an issue for Pellegrini’s men in August and early September if the defence hadn’t been performing in the way that they have.
Continuing on from having the joint-worst backline last term, major changes of personnel and fresh faces such as Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop have failed to galvanise the back-four as they have let an unacceptable 10 strike past them, that’s an average of comfortably over two per-game.
Goal Difference: -8
Sadly, for West Ham, this all equates to a goal difference of negative eight, the last thing they would have wanted at this stage would have been to be in the negatives already and so far behind the rest of the league.
Only them and fellow strugglers Burnley and Huddersfield Town have a goal difference of worse than -3, way off the pace, a figure that already shows the kind of goals for and goals against ratio that a relegation candidate would have, Pellegrini has to get it working in the right direction.
And finally, we reach the stat that all of this analysis has been leading to, the stat that has led to such newspaper headlines as “Pointless Hammers,” our final big fat zero, in the points column of the side at the very bottom of the standings.
The East London outfit are the only side in the entire Top-Flight to not pick up a single point so far, sustaining a 100% losing record, not matched, and a glance at the upcoming fixtures that the boys in Claret & Blue have to face will not fill one with hope that the first point is arriving any time soon.
The One Positive
Much like the ill-fated 2010/2011 campaign, which we touched upon at the beginning, there has been at least one ray of light at the end of the tunnel for Pellegrini and his players.
This came in the form of a solitary competitive victory in the Carabao Cup against a team from a lower division, similar to the dealt win against Oxford United under Grant, a 1-3 scalp of Sky Bet League One challengers AFC Wimbledon, away from home.
However, this single positive has obviously failed to inspire the Hammers to start winning league games, Saturday’s result evidence of that, Adama Traore’s 93rd-minute winner breaking unwanted records for the team who have been embroiled in consecutive relegation battles.
The general consensus among fans is that Pellegrini must get a result in his next three PL matches in order to keep his job beyond the start of October, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United are the next three opponents, as today’s analysis highlighted, the dark clouds have well and truly rolled in over East London.