Sam Allardyce comments on 'critical' strength in West Ham team

Sam Allardyce has lifted West Ham into the top five of the Premier League.

With the help of some astute summer signings and a change in style, Allardyce has led the Hammers into the European qualification places heading into December.

The goalscoring of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia has aided the manager on his task, whilst Stewart Downing, Alex Song and Mark Noble have been excelling since the opening weeks of the campaign. A recent spate of injuries has cost the side some stability since the last international break, and, although they managed to overcome Newcastle at the weekend, the performance was far from the best seen this season.

Against Everton - a game which ended in a 2-1 defeat to the Irons - Allardyce had to set-up his team in a 3-5-2 with Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole leading the line. Downing and Song were out of action, and the midfield looked remarkably weak and lacking creativity with Kevin Nolan in the centre. That problem was partially solved in the game with Newcastle on Saturday, as a reversion to a flat-back-four added extra security in the defensive zone, although playing with a lone striker forced a reversion to the much derided long-ball game associated with Allardyce’s history.

However, Valencia is due back tonight, with the Irons facing West Brom, and Sakho is reportedly in line to feature against Swansea at the weekend, allowing Allardyce to continue with his excellent diamond midfield.

Despite the forced change in system, West Ham lost just one game over their injury-ravaged period, and Allardyce believes that the adaptability in his first-team squad will be a critical strength in West Ham’s search for success this term.

Speaking to the official West Ham website, the 60-year-old coach said: “If we have got Diafra and Enner in the team, it demands you play a totally different way, while you can play through the midfield more when you have Mark Noble and Alex Song together, perhaps.

“I think the adaptability of the team has been critical because it has ended up with us trying to play to our strengths on the day and get some important victories.”

With West Ham harbouring real aspirations to match their greatest ever Premier League finish - fifth place in 1998/99 - this adaptability may be vital in the run in as the Premier League draws to a close.

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