• In #TECTalksFootball

    Can West Ham really make the top 4?

    It’s no understatement to say that West Ham is massively over-achieving this season and is fighting for a top 4 finish for the first time ever but can they maintain it?

    Compared to last season West Ham have 21 more points than this stage last season and are 14 positions higher and have one of the biggest turnarounds in Premier League history.

    The first reason why is recruitment in the summer and January window and how big an impact the signings had.

    In the summer David Moyes signed two Czech players, Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, both from Slavia Prague.

    Soucek was signed for just over 20 million Euros on a permanent basis after being on loan the previous season. It is fair to see he is one of the most underrated players in the league with 8 goals from centre midfield and consistently playing well.

    Coufal was signed for 5 million Euros and is being utilised as a wing-back. Creativity going forward and reliability in defence are just two reasons why he is one of the bargains of the season.

    Algerian winger Said Benrahma was signed on loan with an option to buy in the summer and in January that clause was activated for just over 20 million Euros after an impressive six months with the Hammers. Jesse Lingard was signed on loan from Manchester United and after 6 games, has scored 4 goals all from open play and provided 1 assist. Jesse didn’t play any football in the first half of the season but he is on top of his game right now and he has exclaimed many times how happy he is to be playing football with a smile on his face once again.

    The last couple of times West Ham were in Europe it didn’t go too well. After finishing fifth in the season before, they were put into Europa League qualifying. In the third qualifying round, they knocked out Slovenian side Domzale 4-2 on aggregate to take their place in the final qualifying round.

    As fate would have it they would meet Romanian side Astra Giurgiu who triumphed last time the sides met in Europe beating the Hammer 4-3. 

    This time around, West Ham had the chance to take revenge. However, once again Astra Giurgiu was victorious winning 2-1 on aggregate and West Ham haven’t played competitive European football since. 

    The difference in performances and results this season has been remarkable. West Ham is picking up more points against teams outside the traditional top six which proving to be a key driver behind their success. 

    With 12 matches left West Ham have some favourable games before the end of the season. If the players highlighted can keep up their good form, we could see West Ham in European football for the first time since 2016.

    Cal Bain

  • In #TECTalksFootball

    The 3 best bargains from the top 5 leagues

    Gabriel Martinelli

    The 19-year-old was signed by Arsenal from Brazilian side Ituano for a fee of around £6 million pounds in the 2019-2020 summer transfer window.

    The young Brazilian winger scored a brace on his professional debut against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. He continued this form into the next round where he also scored another two goals, this time against Liverpool, before losing 10-9 on penalties. 

    He impressed most in the Europa League, getting himself 3 goals and 3 assists in 8 games with his best performance coming at home to Standard Liege, where he got 2 goals and 1 assist. 

    His league highlight was the away equalizer at Chelsea,  with a magnificent solo run capped off with a cool celebration. Martinelli racked up 10 goals this season along with 4 assists in all competitions. 

    This is a great start to life in England with Martinelli showing many promising signs to becoming a world-class player.  Mikel Arteta clearly sees big things, offering Gabriel a new long term contract at Arsenal rumoured to keep him at the club until 2024. 

    Because of his relatively modest transfer figure, many people say this is one of the best bargains in the Premier League and arguably the world. I can’t wait to see his performance next season.

    Erling Haaland

    The Norwegian striker is one of the biggest breakthrough stars of the season with an incredible 54 goal contributions in only 40 games. Haaland spent the first half of the season in the Austrian Bundesliga with RB Salzburg where he had previously won two leagues and two Austrian cups.  Before his winter transfer, he had scored 16 goals for the Austrian Champions in only half a season. However, it was his Champions League performances that caught the eyes of the European big dogs. 

    In his first group stage match, Haaland scored a hat trick against Belgian outfit Genk in a dominating 6-2 victory. Arguably his biggest highlight was scoring that equalizer away at Anfield to make it 3-3. Despite this incredible comeback, it wasn’t to be, as they went on to lose 4-3 to the European Champions Liverpool.  Haaland ended the group stage with a staggering 8 goals and 1 assist. 

    All of the biggest teams in Europe wanted Haaland in January and in the end, he chose to move to German giants Borussia Dortmund for only €18 million. This transfer was seen by many as being the right one for such a young player, given the Dortmund, youth setup is one of the best in the world. 

    Doubters argued that he moved too soon and would be a flop. However, he proved the critics wrong when he scored 7 goals in his first 3 Bundesliga games and he wasn’t stopping there. At the end of the season, he managed to get 18 goals in half a season in all the German competitions along with 2 extra goals after a brace against PSG. 

    Haaland is one of the front runners to win this season’s Golden Boy award which would be another great achievement to end off a phenomenal season for the 19-year-old. Erling Haaland had shocked the world and is quite possibly the most promising teenager in world football. 

    Under the circumstances, the Norwegian striker can still be considered a bargain even though his market value is continuously increasing.

    Nabil Fekir

    The Frenchman joined Real Betis for around £18 million from Olympique Lyonnais where he scored 69 goals and provided 46 assists during his time there. The World Cup Winner enjoyed six years at the French club before moving to the Spanish outfit where he had a very good first season. 

    He played a total of 31 games in all competitions scoring 7 goals and providing 7 assists in his first season. Despite Fekir’s contributions this season, Real Betis have been underperforming. They currently sit in 13th position in the Spanish La Liga and were knocked out in the round of 32 of the Copa Del Rey by the Second Division side Rayo Vallecano. 

    With two games of the season left, Fekir will be hoping for one or two more goals or assists to end off a very good campaign for the attacking midfielder. His first season was thought to be so good that he even got into the Spanish team of the season and for a new player this is a great achievement.

    Cal BAIN