West Ham striking pair have improved Hammers in surprising key area

The West Ham striking duo have been a revelation since their arrival to the Premier League.

Sakho has netted five goals in his five Premier League starts, whilst Valencia has two in seven appearances.

They have been largely the reason for West Ham shooting up the league table into the top four, having won four of eight games played, netting 15 goals in the process.

The Irons host Manchester City at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, looking to claim their third consecutive victory, and move within one point of the Manchester giants, and Sakho and Valencia will be looking to prove themselves once again on the top stage - with Sakho already registering strikes against Manchester United and Liverpool this season.

Whilst the duo have received numerous plaudits for their work in the attacking third - spearheading the forward-line of Sam Allardyce’s new look side - the pair have also improved the Hammers from a defensive standpoint - proving their worth to the team effort.

Last season, Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole were the two most oft-chosen forwards, leading the line solo in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their task was confined to winning the ball and laying it off to the midfield, who would then start attacks; Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan formed an impressive partnership in this set-up last season.

Carroll and Cole netted just eight Premier League goals between them across the entire campaign - just one more than Sakho and Valencia have after eight games - and their profligacy as attacking threats, and usefulness as target men, was cause for much of the criticism aimed at Allardyce’s route-one football last term.

They offered little in the way of team ethic, and Valencia and Sakho have already proven themselves to be better all-round players at this early stage of the season.

  SeasonTacklesAppearancesMins Played
Andy Carroll 2013-2014 8 15 1093
Carlton Cole 2013-2014 6 26 845

In the 2013/14 season, Carroll and Cole completed just 14 tackles between them in a combined 1,938 minutes of action. Despite leading from the front line, they offered nothing in the way of pressing defenders, and the decision to sit off teams invited pressure onto the defensive players in the side. However, Sakho and Valencia have already equalled the tally this season - registering 14 tackles in just 889 minutes.

  SeasonTacklesAppearancesMins Played
Diafra Sakho 2014-2015 9 6 469
Enner Valencia 2014-2015 5 7 420

The intense pressing displayed by the Hammers has been one of the key improvements in Allardyce’s team this season, and it has allowed the creative midfield players to flourish with the pressure taken off of them to defend. The pair of Valencia and Sakho have been in imperious form in front of goal, but it has been their actions all over the pitch that have endeared them to the West Ham faithful. Having already been labelled as the bargains of the season, if the pair continue to perform in such an impressive manner all the over the pitch, there is no guessing how high the Hammers may end up at the close of this Premier League campaign.

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