West Ham vs Crystal Palace: Eye On The Opposition (14/1/2017)

Written by FYP Fanzine

Slaven Bilic has probably had better weeks.

The FA Cup trouncing at the hands of Manchester City was embarrassing and the visuals of hoards of home fans leaving way before the final whistle live on terrestrial television will have done little to dissuade other football fans that West Ham isn't a very unhappy football club at the moment.

I was at London Bridge on Friday night and the tube I got on had loads of Hammers' fans getting off it and the final whistle hadn't been blown at that point. They must've left with half an hour to still go. Understandable given the way the game was going but indicative of a fan base not happy with the way the club is heading at the moment.

Fast forward to Thursday morning and Bilic's press conference. Normally mundane affairs but this one had a plot twist. Dimitri Payet, a club 'legend' after just a season, has asked to leave the club and is refusing to train. Not the seamless run up to a London derby against a former manager for Bilic. As the Croatian boss spoke to the press, you could tell he was livid and doing his best to keep a lid on things.

Payet hasn't got anywhere near the levels of form he showed last season where it has to be said he was superb. However, to put down his tools in an effort to force a move away from the club is both a stain on him and his character and a hugely offensive gesture to a club who have given him a platform to showcase his ability in the Premier League and to a set of fans who have come to adore him. Modern football perhaps but Payet's gesture shouldn't be treated with anything other than contempt.

Without Payet's wizardry, they have looked short of ideas going forward and have relied, too much, some would say, of just slinging the ball into the box and hoping the likes of Michail Antonio or Andy Carroll can get on the end of something. Their recruitment in forward positions during the summer wasn't anywhere near good enough and Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri (Who?!) have already been moved on or look set to be. West Ham, most likely in the summer, require a top class striker if the side is going to start challenging the top six as is the wish of West Ham fans and board members.

It's true to say that West Ham's season has been a difficult one. 13th and far enough away from the drop zone to not be overly concerned about relegation but it's the optimism that came with the move to Stratford dissipating at the rate that it has that's been the biggest worry for the club. This is no place to analyse the issues of the club's move to a new stadium or any club's move for that matter but it's clear that it could've been planned and executed far more successfully.

It'll be interesting, for those of us going on Saturday, to see what we'll actually see. Are the concourses filled with popcorn stands? Is it a corporate wet dream? Or is it just not Upton Park and all that used to come with that for West Ham fans?

It's really on the pitch that matters to those following the red and blue tomorrow and having had a rather uninspiring start to this Palace reign, Sam Allardyce is sure to want to pick up his first win as Palace boss against a club who deemed him not good enough to take West Ham to the next level; whatever that level is.

What do you think the score will be? Comment below!