West Ham United started their Premier League campaign with a heavy defeat, when they shipped five goals without reply against Manchester City. However, their season will be defined, not by results against the Champions of England but against the teams at the lower half of the league table.
The Hammers now face one such game, when they travel to Falmer Stadium to take on Brighton this Saturday.
The Seagulls started their campaign with a resounding 3-0 victory over Watford on the opening day, and will be high on confidence ahead of this game.
Playing away from home, West Ham, who have lost all their away games against Brighton in Premier League history, will have to be at their best to take anything from this game.
Here are three key areas Manuel Pellegrini needs his squad to improve on, to try and get a result this weekend:
Full-backs need to be protected
The Hammers have decent quality in their backline but were let down by lack of organisation in the game against City. Ryan Fredericks was often exposed to Raheem Sterling in full flight, while Aaron Cresswell had his troubles keeping Riyad Mahrez quiet.
The space City got on the wings was crucial for maintaining pressure on the hosts in that game, and this needs to change against Brighton.
Graham Potter’s squad may not have a similar quality, but West Ham’s full-backs need to be protected better.
What the midfield pivot should do
The former Manchester City manager stuck with Jack Wilshere to partner Declan Rice on the opening day. The English midfield pairing did well to keep City from attacking down the middle, but they did very little to break the opponent’s build-up play.
City were not hurried in possession, were given time to pick their passes and that allowed Guardiola’s side to run rings around the West Ham midfield. Against Brighton, Pellegrini needs to make sure that he has the right balance in the midfield.
He will not need as much defensive cover, but will certainly need the players to be quick in transition as there will be more turnovers this time.
The midfield West Ham used against City makes more sense for this game but even then, Pellegrini needs to make sure that he has a stable midfield and a strong base to test the Brighton goal.
Balance in attack
The Hammers did create a couple of half-chances, but none of their front-line troubled City consistently. Felipe Anderson looked off-colour before going off, while Michail Antonio had a forgettable night.
Manuel Lanzini and Sebastien Haller were both isolated at times, and this needs to change against Brighton.
The Seagulls are a well-organized side and will not allow the visitors to create too many chances. So, it is crucial for Pellegrini to make sure that has the right balance in his attack to create openings.