Last season, West Ham fell away in the second half of the season with both Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll spending time out injured. This time out the pair are out injured at the same time again, but after Enner Valencia looked at his best in scoring twice against Manchester City, it could be a different story this time around.
So far this season, West Ham have been superb. Slaven Bilic has bought a new attacking brand of football to Upton Park, and they are flying high in the Premier League. If they can keep this form up in the second half of the campaign, they could be in with an outside shot of the Champions League places.
In terms of goals, Carroll and Sakho have only got six between them this season. However, they both offer different things to their side. Sakho works well with the side’s fellow attacking players, as he fits well with the style alongside the likes of Dimitri Payet and Victor Moses. His pace and ability to run in behind means he can get involved with the link-up play in the team.
Carroll is a totally different animal. He plays the role as a target man as well as almost any other striker in the league. This was abundantly clear against Chelsea earlier on this season, where he rose highest to head home the winner.
Ecuadorian Enner Valencia however has shown that he can fill the gap that this pair leave in their absence. He has only just returned from an injury lay-off himself, but scoring four goals in his last three games shows that he is close to hitting top form.
Against Bournemouth, Valencia scored twice playing in a slightly deeper role, his second a wonderful free kick from a tight angle. When playing Manchester City on Saturday, the 26-year-old caused Manuel Pellegrini’s defence a lot of problems, scoring twice.
He has shown not only in the past three games, but in the past 18 months, that he can lead the line well, and that he will score goals. If he can continue to hit top form for the rest of the season, he can become a key player for the Hammers.