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Thoughts on the West Ham victory

west ham report
west ham report

It may have been just a victory, just another three points to the total, but perhaps, just maybe the 3-1 win at West Ham hinted at much more.

A lively spell towards the end of the first-half apart, West Ham offered little in the way of a serious test, but with concerns heading into the game at how the side would fare without Carlos Tevez they were brushed away in a short space of time.

Of course any side would miss the presence of Tevez, the way he approaches and plays the game means he is difficult (if not impossible) to replace, but the side barely missed a beat and it did have the feeling of laying a marker down. It was both an accomplished and convincing performance - and one that put the side joint top for the next twenty-fours at least.

With the rest of the top five playing later this weekend there was an opportunity to steal a march with points to be dropped elsewhere both tomorrow and Monday and the side responded well. Watching the performance I sensed a growing confidence and belief within the side. Although there may be a lack of experience in terms of the side being in (not to mention being able to maintain) a position such as this, there are enough players who possess the necessary  character and smarts to suggest they can more than hang around at the top end of the table.

It was no surprise (to me, at least) that Mario Balotelli replaced Tevez positionally, but whereas I expected Adam Johnson to come into the side, Roberto Mancini opted for Jo in a reprise of his selection at Fulham a couple of weeks ago.

The performance was notable for the movement within the side, across all areas of the pitch. There is a concern over the number of goals scored at home this season (16 now on their travels compared with 8 at home), but when playing away from home - perhaps with more space available and less caution from the hosts - this potentially does suit the side better. It is noticeable that since the defeat at Wolves, the side has won three of four (with a draw in the other) on the road and scored eleven goals in the process.

It is worth the growing presence of Yaya Toure on this side. The importance of a Tevez, Silva or Kompany are often discussed, but mentions of Yaya have been limited to transfer fees, pay packets and snoods; with some sections quick to dismiss him as a failure - even at this early stage.

He spoke this week of how he now feels more settled both in England and at the club, highlighting just how quickly players are expected to come in and perform, with no quarter given for a quiet start by a big money signing. Whilst Toure has struggled at certain times, today was a continuing theme of the influence and effect he is having on games with the powerful, marauding runs that brush players aside with ease fast becoming a trademark.

Perhaps victory over West Ham is not a great yardstick to judge a side by but there is no doubt they are looking capable of putting runs of victories together. To maintain their current position they will have to show they can go on and post greater levels of consistency (talking ten games plus unbeaten runs) than they have done in the past, but the signs are beginning to look increasingly positive.