David Moyes will not overreact but ‘undercooked’ West Ham have a fight on their hands

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  • West Ham United
    West Ham United
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • David Moyes
    David Moyes
    Football Manager
  • Alexandre Lacazette
    Alexandre Lacazette
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Łukasz Fabiański
    Polish association football player
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

If West Ham are to stand a fighting chance of forcing their way back into the top four David Moyes needs his defensive absentees back, and fast.

Defeat at Arsenal last night saw the Gunners leapfrog their London rivals into the Champions League places as the Hammers lost another defender, this time through suspension, as Vladimir Coufal was sent off after a second booking for a challenge on Alexandre Lacazette in the penalty box.

Lukasz Fabianski saved the spot kick but the damage from the dismissal evening may run into the weekend.

West Ham made the trip across London already missing five first-team defenders. Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna, their first-choice central defenders, are missing with long-term problems while Aaron Cresswell, Ben Johnson and Ryan Fredericks are all battling their own niggling injuries.

Moyes is hopeful of having at least one of the trio of injured full-backs available when Norwich visit the London Stadium on Saturday, but just as fatigue is starting to take its toll, the injuries are piling up and the already slim West Ham squad is shrinking.

In truth, losing Coufal was not the defining factor in defeat. West Ham, who have managed to balance European commitments, a top-four battle and progress in the Carabao Cup well to this point, began to show signs of tired legs.

"We’re a little bit undercooked at the moment and are a little bit short up front and obviously with defenders right now," said Moyes.

"We are looking around and seeing what we can do to freshen up.

"We have players in the forward areas who we will give game time to in the games to come. But when you come to these games you look to the players who have been in form and done well for you to give you a good level of performance."

It was those usually reliable performers who so disappointed Moyes.

Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek were unusually slow in midfield against an energetic and intense Arsenal, allowing Lacazette far too much space and time to collect the ball, turn and feed Gabriel Martinelli, who had slipped the grasp of an out-of-position Coufal to run in behind and finish for the opener.

Michail Antonio, who now has one goal in his last 13 appearances, continues to struggle for form and again failed to muster a shot on target at the Emirates. Moyes had said ahead of this game that he saw signs that the 31-year-old, his only senior striker, was returning to form - but they were not apparent here.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

There was still the now ever-present resilience from Moyes’s squad, they continued to try and force an equaliser even with ten men but another tired and sloppy mistake, substitute Said Benrahma squandering the ball too easily, let Arsenal turn possession over and counter to score the second through Emile Smith Rowe and kill the game.

Moyes will not overreact. They remain fifth in the Premier League after 17 games and, with a few players back and the prospect of new faces in January, could be back to their brilliant selves within a matter of weeks.

For now, however, they face the task of staggering through to the new year before, Moyes hopes, a new signing can offer a burst of energy to this stretched squad.

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