Is Manuel Lanzini causing problems at home for West Ham?

Slaven Bilic

West Ham United would be leading the way at the top of the Premier League right now if manager Slaven Bilic could fix the Manuel Lanzini problem.

Lanzini has been one of the real positives and surprises of West Ham's season so far.

West Ham boss Bilic was quite open and honest when he made the skillful Argentine his ninth summer capture, admitting to the club's official website that he had taken a gamble on the diminutive 22-year-old.

That's because Lanzini has spent the last couple of seasons playing in the footballing backwater, that is the UAE Arabian Gulf League for Al Jazira.

He was another in a long line of skilful Argentines who were likened to Lionel Messi when he broke through at River Plate as a 17-year-old.

But he has been absolutely crucial in West Ham's perfect start to the season away from home, playing a key role in wins at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Away star man could be causing problems at home

Not only has he offered pace, skill, creativity and chipped in with a goal in those wins, but his work ethic, tackling and tracking back have also caught the eye.

It is a start that leaves the Hammers third in the Premier League table behind Manchester City and leaders Manchester United a fifth of the way through the season.

What if...

But it could be even better.

While West Ham have taken nine from nine on the road, at home it has been a different story taking just four points from a possible 12.

And it is all to do with the way West Ham set up.

They are arguably better equipped to play away from home with the blistering pace of the likes of Lanzini, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho.

Bilic sets them up to be narrow and difficult to break down but ready to pounce when the opportunity arises.

However at home, with teams sitting back trying to frustrate West Ham, Bilic has struggled to find answers so far, losing to Leicester City, Bournemouth and drawing with Norwich City.

More width needed in games at Upton Park?

In those games Lanzini, while not disgracing himself, has been a shadow of the player Irons fans are seeing on their travels.

There is less space for the little Argentine to exploit and he has found himself on the periphery at times. 

Most Hammers fans feel that Bilic needs to play with more width at home, to not only penetrate the opposition more but also offer more protection to full-backs Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson.

Time for Antonio?

If that is the case, then Lanzini looks likely to be the fall guy during the last ever season at Upton Park with calls to give Michail Antonio, the flying winger signed from Nottingham Forest on transfer deadline day, a chance to prove their case.

Even if Bilic had managed to mastermind two wins from those three games against supposedly lesser opposition of Leicester, Bournemouth and Norwich, West Ham would now be sitting pretty at the top of the league, three points clear of Louis van Gaal's Red Devils.

Not that Hammers fans will be complaining too much given their exciting start to life under the former Croatia boss with a move to the 54,000 seater Olympic Stadium on the horizon.

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