Sometimes one bad break can ruin a whole summer’s transfer strategy. Having brought in Stewart Downing to add to the service from the wings for Andy Carroll already provided by Matt Jarvis, West Ham looked well placed to build on an impressive 10th position achieved on their return to the Premier League.
In Carroll they had a striker whose qualities had been proven to their satisfaction during last season’s loan from Liverpool, where he was surplus to Brendan Rodgers’s requirements. The one concern was how durable he would prove. He missed three and a half months of his loan season at various times and only really began scoring during a sustained run towards the end of it.
Finishing with seven goals in 24 games convinced manager Sam Allardyce it was worth paying the agreed fee of £15.5m, but now a foot injury has put him out of contention for the immediate future without having played this season. With only the more lightweight Modibo Maiga (two goals in 20 games, mainly as a substitute) as a replacement, Allardyce was forced to consider bringing back Carlton Cole after releasing him, and has now signed Mladen Petric, 32 years old, not prolific either in his one season with Fulham and also a different type of player to Carroll. It leaves the London side looking light in attack for today’s visit to Southampton, as indeed they did in losing 1-0 at home to Stoke before the international break.
Southampton, who splashed out more than £30m in the summer on three players, have yet to score or concede more than one goal in a game, and with West Ham having scored two and conceded one in three matches, this is unlikely be a goal fest. A fully fit Carroll, keen to press his international claims against Rickie Lambert’s, might have made the afternoon’s entertainment a different proposition.
Southampton v West Ham is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm