Competition for places up front the key for recent West Ham success

With seven strikers to chose from, the forwards are busting a gut to stay in the side

Before Demba Ba’s arrival at Upton Park, West Ham’s strikers struggled for consistency.

Frederic Piquionne blew hot and cold, Carlton Cole scored just one league goal in 16 matches before Christmas, while Victor Obinna took Premier 14 Premier League games to find the net.

Since Ba’s �6million move from Hoffenheim, Hammers have won their last three matches scoring 14 goals with the forwards on target in nine of them.

Tactical alterations, increasing pressure on opponents and pushing more men forward from midfield have been factors in increased goal output and with it better results, but with up to seven strikers fighting for three places, it’s the competition for a starting spot which is the biggest reason for the change in fortune.

“In all the teams that I have been with since I started in football, I believe in competition, especially forwards, because you cannot be all the time in a good shape,” said boss Avram Grant.

“We didn’t have the competition before, we had only two strikers, maybe two and a half strikers and it is not enough for the Premier League.

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“We needed to find another solution and now we have competition. Demba Ba came and Robbie Keane came and so with competition you can see what has happened. “Coley looks like a different player, Freddie Piquionne is doing well in the last two games.

“As for Demba, I don’t remember a player who has made such a big impact in the first few games he has played in the Premier League.”

Ba made his debut in the 1-0 defeat to Birmingham, smashing an effort onto the post with his first touch in English football. He has gone from strength to strength, scoring four goals in five matches.

“I’m am just working hard to get fitness and to get strength, because it is a lot about strength and I am just going to keep on working and giving my best every Saturday,” he said.

“I always looked at the Premier League on TV and I knew what I could do if I came here.”

“We are not playing with any fear. I think in the first half of the season I wasn’t there, but they were unlucky I think and sometimes they lost games they maybe shouldn’t have done.

“I think we have good strikers, who all know how to score goals and that is a very big advantage for the team.”

Ba, Cole and Piquionne were the front three chosen to play last Saturday, as the Hammers thumped Stoke 3-0 at Upton Park, with the Senegalese striker opening the scoring against the club who he would have signed for had he not failed a medical.

“Things happen in life and I am not going to worry about not moving to Stoke. I have come here and I am just getting on with it and moving on,” he said.

“Everything is going well for us. We are scoring goals and we know how to keep the leads and win the games. We just have to keep on going and keep on doing it.

“All the games are important. Last week’s game against Liverpool was important, but I think these kinds of games, like against Stoke are even more vital.

“We have to play Tottenham and Chelsea in the next weeks and we will go there with confidence and we will go there to win.”

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