With Premier League football off the cards for the foreseeable future, we’re looking to keep our readers entertained and return to our ‘Transfer Battles’ feature. In this piece, we’re grading teams on the deals for the players who should have been playing next weekend, pairing them up against a would-be opponent.
Had the football been still ongoing, West Ham United’s next fixture would have been a London derby against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. It would have been a huge game for both sides, with the Hammers desperately needing points in the battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League, whilst the Blues’ position in the top four is still not secure (BBC Sport).
Games between these two sides are often close, with the odd goal separating them in seven of their last 11 fixtures against each other (11v11). With that in mind, strikers need to take their chances when they come along in these matches to help their team secure three points.
The two men who would probably have led the line for their respective club’s at the London Stadium are French duo Sebastien Haller and Olivier Giroud. But who would have come out on top? We have taken a closer look…
Haller was brought in for big money by West Ham in the summer of 2019, with then-manager Manuel Pellegrini agreeing a club record deal worth up to £45 million to bring him in from Eintracht Frankfurt (BBC Sport).
Much was expected of him as he had netted 15 goals and provided nine assists in 29 Bundesliga appearances last season (Transfermarkt) and he initially delivered, scoring four times and chipping in with one assist in his first seven Premier League outings (Transfermarkt).
Since then however the goals have dried up, he has just three in his last 20 league appearances and more recently one in eight (Transfermarkt). He hasn’t really looked like the striker many were expecting him to be overall and is averaging just 0.3 goals per game, whilst he has also missed five big chances this term (SofaScore). On that basis there is little evidence to suggest he would have caused Chelsea too much of a problem.
TT Grade: B
He may not have been first choice striker for Chelsea all season, but there is no doubt that Giroud has really hit form in recent weeks following an injury to Tammy Abraham.
Indeed, the 33-year-old started each of the Blues’ last three Premier League fixtures against Tottenham, Bournemouth and Everton and in that time managed to bag two goals (Transfermarkt). In his most recent outing against the Toffees he was particularly impressive and as well as scoring he also won six aerial duels, had two shots on target, played one key pass, completed one successful dribble and played 22 accurate passes in total (SofaScore).
Giroud was certainly hitting a hot-streak of form, which is understandable given he was trying to ensure he retained his position as France’s first choice striker at Euro 2020 (Evening Standard).
He would have been looking to continue impressing against the Hammers and given that the east London outfit have shipped 50 league goals in just 29 games he could have been a real thorn in their side. Added to that, he also has a fantastic record when playing West Ham having scored six goals and provided three assists in 10 games against them (Transfermarkt).
TT Grade: A
Based on recent form and stats, you would have fancied Giroud to come out on top in this particular duel. He may have cost just £18 million (BBC Sport), which is £27m less than West Ham shelled out for Haller, but he has been playing really well of late having forced his way into Lampard’s 11 and history suggests he loves playing against the Hammers.
Meanwhile, Haller just hasn’t been prolific at all in front of goal since the opening weeks of the campaign.
West Ham fans, would you rather have Olivier Giroud in your team than Sebastien Haller? Let us know below…
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