Sam Allardyce led his newly promoted side comfortably to the safety of mid-table last season and will be hoping for the same again this coming season. Another top half finish would be a good achievement for the east London club and with Allardyce having his troops suitably well organised, it certainly isn't beyond them.
The former Bolton manager is known for having his side well-drilled at set pieces and that could well have played a part in James Collins and Winston Reid both being amongst the top six players in the league for headed clearances.
The Hammers defence was neither amongst the best or the worst in the Premier League last season but the stats show that Collins and Reid did their part. The duo again ranked highly, Reid fourth and Collins fifth, in terms of the total number of clearances made.
|Clearances - PL 2012/13|
|Ashley Williams||381||Brede Hangeland||218|
|Brede Hangeland||337||Sylvain Distin||210|
|Ciaran Clark||328||Gareth McAuley||201|
|Winston Reid||321||Ashley Williams||195|
|James Collins||316||Winston Reid||191|
|Sylvain Distin||313||James Collins||179|
West Ham have already added experienced full-back Razvan Rat to their defensive options for the 2013-14 campaign and will hope the former Shakhtar Donetsk man can add more steel to their backline.
Another area the full-back will be expected to help out in is getting balls into the box. The Hammers put more successful crosses in from open play than any of their rivals last season with the likes of Matt Jarvis and Joe Cole looking to provide ammunition for their big strike force as well as attacking midfielder Kevin Nolan at every opportunity. With Andy Carroll now signed up on a permanent basis, there seems little doubt that the tactic will be employed by the claret and blues once more.
|Successful crosses (open play) - PL 2012/13|
The threat Carroll provides in the air is demonstrated by the fact that he won the third most aerial duels of any player in the Premier League last season, despite being out injured for a large chunk of the season. Undoubtedly, a danger in the air when West Ham are attacking, the former Liverpool striker is also a valuable asset when his side are defending set-pieces ensuring the Hammers aren't beaten at their own game.
If they can keep Carroll fit and give him the right service, West Ham could find themselves looking slightly higher than a mid-table finish.
|Aerial duels won - PL 2012/13|
|Player||Team||Aerial duels won|
|Christian Benteke||Aston Villa||269|
|Andy Carroll||West Ham||227|