Why West Ham should consider recalling Josh Cullen from his loan spell
West Ham continued their promising start to the Premier League season, as the Hammers came back from 2-1 down to rescue a point away at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Andriy Yarmolenko’s opener was cancelled out by Joshua King’s equaliser before Callum Wilson put the Cherries in the driver’s seat just after the restart.
Aaron Cresswell’s goal midway through the second half ensured that both the teams shared the spoils but manager Manuel Pellegrini would know that his side clearly had the better chances to grab all three points from a fixture that looked quite tricky on paper.
Having demolished Man United last week, the Hammers were well within their rights to fancy their chances against Bournemouth but, in the end, they only have themselves to blame for failing to capitalise on the numerous chances that they created.
Well, these are the fixtures that West Ham need to win if they are to push on under Pellegrini and break the top-six lock this season and the Hammers will be looking to make amends when they face London rivals Crystal Palace in the Premier League next week.
As a matter of fact, they have a decent run of fixtures to look forward to in the coming weeks, with West Ham set to play Palace, Everton, Sheffield United, Newcastle United and Burnley before welcoming Spurs towards the end of November.
While some of those might not be completely straightforward fixtures, Pellegrini will be hoping for some positive results, especially, with the team that he has got.
However, there are still a few loose ends that the manager should be looking to tie up in January, with the ongoing crisis in central midfield becoming a real concern for the fans.
Declan Rice continued his rich vein of form with yet another commanding display in central midfield against the Cherries alongside veteran Mark Noble, who looked well below-par his usual high standards.
However, it would be a cardinal sin to point a finger at the 32-year-old for just one mediocre performance, given that he has been quite brilliant for the Hammers this term.
Truth be told, it is unfair to expect Noble to play with the same high tempo week in, week out at this stage of his career, with the club’s lack of depth in central midfield becoming quite ridiculous these days.
Central midfield is one area where every team needs adequate depth and West Ham have been found wanting in that regard, with Jack Wilshere turning into a liability due to his recurrent injuries and Carlos Sanchez clearly past his prime at the age of 33.
Of course, the easiest way out for West Ham would be to invest heavily in a new holding midfielder in January and while it might be an unfamiliar opinion, recalling academy prospect Josh Cullen from his loan spell could work wonders for the Hammers and, that too, without spending any money.
The 23-year-old, who is currently on loan at Charlton Athletic in the Championship has quickly established himself as one of the mainstays of the Addicks’ midfield under Lee Bowyer.
A tenacious midfielder with a lot of stamina and high work-rate, Cullen has caught the eye at The Valley with his range of passing, intelligent distribution, as well as his ability to break up the play and contribute equally to both attack and defence.
The academy youngster, who has had loan stints at Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers in the previous years, has found himself on the fringes of the Hammers’ first-team for a number of years now and it is high time for Pellegrini to accommodate him in his plans.
The 23-year-old is very much a player in the mould of Mark Noble but he needs to get a fair crack of the whip from the manager to prove his credentials in the Premier League.
Josh Cullen recently impressed on his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland during the international break, which is indicative of the fact that he is definitely ready to make the transition.
The Irishman is definitely capable of making an impact and West Ham would probably save themselves millions of pounds in the transfer market should he manage to establish himself under Pellegrini.
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With that in mind, West Ham should not hesitate to bring Cullen back to the club from his loan spell in January and it is not difficult to see why his arrival would solve a nagging issue in a key area of the pitch for the Hammers.