Sam Allardyce made his third move of the January transfer window last weekend by acquiring Marouane Chamakh on loan from Arsenal until the end of the season. The 28-year-old follows Joe Cole and Republic of Ireland teenager Sean Maguire to Upton Park as the Hammers look to build on a start which sees them sit eight points clear of the drop zone after the first 21 Gameweeks.
Having cut a peripheral figure for the Gunners this term, the Morocco international is desperate to reignite his career, following a hugely disappointing stint for Arsene Wenger’s side. Speaking to the club’s official website upon completion of the move, Chamakh revealed he has high hopes for his time with the Hammers:
“I’m very happy to be here, I want to play and give my best for this team. I can bring my heading, some goals and we will see what else. I think this will be a very important move for me and I don’t want to waste any more time. I want to contribute immediately. I didn’t have opportunities to play recently, but I did well before and I know I am a very good striker. We played only one striker at Arsenal, so I didn’t play a lot, so I hope to do so more with West Ham.”
A product of the Bordeaux youth academy, Chamakh established himself as a first-team regular in the 2002-03 campaign. Over eight seasons with the French outfit, he produced 56 goals and 32 assists in 230 league appearances and also proved his worth in the Champions League, scoring 16 times in 38 matches before Arsenal snapped him up in the summer of 2010.
Vying with Robin Van Persie for the lone striker role proved impossible and despite the Dutchman’s Emirates departure last summer, Arsene Wenger’s move for Olivier Giroud was indicative of his loss of faith in Chamakh’s abilities. While his first season at the club harvested seven goals and six assists in 29 appearances, the Moroccan managed a single goal in 11 games last term and has failed to play a single minute in the Premier League this time round, with all four of his appearances coming in cup games. Chamakh has also turned out for his country on 61 occasions, finding the net 17 times.
Certainly, Chamakh seems the prototype Allardyce forward. Tall, physical, and with great aerial ability, he offers an alternative to Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll for the target man role in West Ham’s 4-3-3 system, with the likes of Joe Cole, Matt Jarvis or Ricardo Vaz Te tasked with supplying creativity and crosses aplenty from out wide.
While Allardyce revealed yesterday he is hopeful of a return for Carroll in time for the FA Cup Third Round replay with United on January 16, the on-loan Liverpool man has flattered to deceive, producing just a single goal and assist over 748 minutes since moving to Upton Park for the season. Considering Carlton Cole has played 987 minutes and managed two goals and an assist, it’s fair to say the Hammers’ forwards have drastically underperformed – while skipper Kevin Nolan has notched five times, he has notched just once in his last 11 league appearances, highlighting the club’s need for extra firepower.
As the statistics show, Chamakh was a real handful for Bordeaux. In retrospect, Arsenal’s brand of possession football seems ill-suited to his strengths – Allardyce’s tactics, on the other hand, look more likely to utilise his abilities, with Nolan buzzing around him, looking for flick-ons in and around the box.
Having lost his place in the Morocco squad, Chamakh no longer has African Cup of Nations duties on his upcoming agenda, bolstering his potential game time as Allardyce looks to address a run of games that have harvested just two wins and 10 goals in the last nine matches. On the downside, due to the conditions of his loan deal he is unavailable to play against the Gunners in the second match of double Gameweek 23 – not only does this lessen his short-term appeal, it is likely to have a knock-on effect on Cole and Carroll, if the latter is fit. It’s more likely that Chamakh will feature in the first game at home to QPR, perhaps lessening the likelihood that any of the Hammers’ forwards will start both matches.
Coming in at 5.4 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), he’s substantially cheaper than Carroll, at 8.2, and could vie with the latter for starts, with Cole afforded the role of impact sub. Faith in his potential will be understandably slim but as Joe Cole’s display in the recent FA Cup draw with United demonstrated, sometimes it only needs a change in environment to bolster a player’s Fantasy prospects.