Bowen and Soucek – West Ham’s January signings saving them from the drop


A January signing is notoriously difficult to perfect.

For every Luis Suarez, there are ten mistakes from clubs desperate for anyone to change their fortunes during a struggling season.

The introductions of Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek have had an important impact on West Ham’s campaign, and may just prove the difference between survival and relegation.

Bowen had impressed in the Championship in the last two seasons. The Englishman had netted 16 goals for Hull this campaign, before departing for East London.

The signing of the 23-year-old saw a shift in focus towards home-grown talent from the EFL, an avenue which can often lead to astute buys, James Maddison’s importance at Leicester a perfect example.

Bowen spoke about the differences he’d encountered since making the move to the Premier League.

“The pace is quicker in the Premier League, and the technical aspect to the game too. You can see why players have played in the Premier League for so many years. You’ve got to up your levels and be consistent in every game. You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to train well, because you’re up against the best.

“Coming from Hull, I was there for five-and-a-half years. I worked my way up to get to where I was, and now I’ve joined West Ham I’ve got to work my way up again to get to the best levels I can get to”

Despite only providing a solitary goal since his arrival to England’s top-flight, Bowen has proved a menace to defences and like Hammers’ striker Michail Antonio, is a player whose desire and work rate is never questioned.

These are the characteristics that are vital in the relegation dog-fight. Pace and skill get you so far, but most West Ham fans would want Bowen on the teamsheet ahead of the potentially more gifted Felipe Anderson.

After being limited to cameo performances at the beginning of Febarury, mostly watching West Ham fail to win from the bench, Bowen was thrown into the line-up against Southampton.

Bowen scored that afternoon and helped the Hammers to an crucial 3-1 win. He no doubt impressed manager David Moyes, who has selected him in the seven league games since.

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Soucek’s move has proved just as successful. The Czech Player of the Year has provided West Ham’s midfield with steel, whilst also grabbing goals to his game since the restart. 

The big midfielder’s strikes in the win against Chelsea and the draw at Newcastle, could prove crucial come the end of the season.

Should West Ham avoid the drop, there is no doubt that the clause to make the deal permanent would be activated.

Both Bowen and Soucek have become fan favourites at the London Stadium despite their recently arrivals, the Slavia Prague loanee revealed he’d like to extend his stay this week.

“I am enjoying the Premier League because we play against big teams and I’m enjoying every day on the training ground,” he said. “I’m playing with guys that I’ve played with for four or five months so I’m really enjoying it well and, hopefully, we’ll be safe and I will be able to enjoy more years here.”

Now is the time to make the impact that would define the Londoners’ season. Both stuck on 34 points, West Ham face a Watford team just as desperate for a result to ease fears of the drop.

With Aston Villa and Bournemouth now showing some end of season fight, the two teams will be under no allusions as to the importance of the fixture.

David Moyes was clear on his thinking ahead of the match, a victory almost sealing their goal of survival.

“I think that whoever wins will get to a points tally where they’ll think they might be close enough, but I don’t think it’ll confirm it. I’ve not thought about it that way, but obviously I know that another win will certainly put us in a good position.”

A defeat for the Hammers would leave the daunting task of needing a result from Old Trafford next week. Failure to win there could mean that Villa head to the London Stadium on the final day, knowing a win could keep them up [depending on their result at Arsenal], and potentially sink their opponents.

It’s a similar story for Nigel Pearson’s Hornets. Manchester City and Arsenal follow their trip to West Ham. Their win over Newcastle coincided with wins from the teams around them, meaning victory over Moyes’ Hammers is crucial to alleviate pressure placed upon them.  

All is poised for a fascinating match. Whether we’ll see a cagey encounter or a free-flowing attacking game remains to be seen, but both sides will hope to enter matchday 37 with clearer minds.

Bowen and Soucek have provided their fair share of goal contributions since the turn of the year, should they deliver once more for West Ham tonight, Moyes will thank his scouting team for providing the new additions.

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