Which West Ham players have made the biggest difference this season?

Kevin Nolan

Kevin Nolan has revealed that the striking options in the West Ham ranks are the biggest difference from last season.

The Hammers captain made a return from injury prior to the international break, coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 victory over QPR which moved the East Londoners into the top 10.

A Nedum Onuoha own goal opened the scoring, before Diafra Sakho netted his fourth goal of the Premier League campaign to kill off the game, and claim a well deserved three points.

It has been the goalscoring of Sakho that has seen the Hammers impress in this early stage of the Premier League campaign, and, despite suffering a number of injuries to crucial personnel, Sam Allardyce has set his team up for a potentially successful season.

One of the players to be out of action was Nolan, but, with his return to match action before the fortnight break, he should be fully fit for the return of the Premier League this weekend, and he will be hoping to link up with Sakho and strike partner Enner Valencia - who he believes have been the difference for the Hammers this season.

Speaking to the Standard, Nolan said: “The difference between last season and this one is now we have forwards. Last year, because of injuries, it was difficult but the two lads we’ve brought in — Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho — have adapted so well to the pace and power of the Premier League.

“Their work ethic is brilliant, they’re both good lads to have here — plus Carlton Cole, who is much fitter than this time last year, and Andy Carroll also coming back in the not too distant future.”

Nolan thrived in the target-man system utilised by West Ham during the last campaign, with Andy Carroll used to hold-up the ball for the midfielder to arrive late and finish off chances. Whilst Valencia’s size and strength allow him to fulfil such a role, Allardyce has his team playing more free-flowing football, but Nolan is not worried that his impact will reduce with the change in style.

“I don’t need a target man to play off,” he continued.

“I’ve played in a variety of positions and last year, although it was a difficult season, I still scored seven important goals, which helped ensure we were safe.

“I know that, when I do get back, I will get chances because I have players to work off. I’m really looking forward to playing behind those two lads up front.

“I’m really confident I can contribute.”

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