By Danny Wright

29th Apr, 2017 | 4:55pm

No way back for 27-year-old: Three things learned about West Ham in Stoke stalemate

By Danny Wright

West Ham earned a hard-fought point against Stoke at the Bet365 Stadium in a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Here, Football Insider analyses three things learned from the game:

Slaven Bilic moves closer to the axe

The Hammers have endured a very difficult season, plagued with both inconsistency and injuries – and things didn’t exactly improve in Stoke. The Sun claimed in March that the Croat must secure a top-half finish this season or face the axe, and it doesn’t look as though he is going to able to manage that now. The Potters were on top for most of the game and if it wasn’t for some top displays from the defenders, Mark Hughes and his men would have walked away with all three points. Bilic is likely to face a lot of pressure in the summer because the top-half is falling further away with just three games to go.

Back three a master-stroke

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Although the doubts around Bilic’s future will remain, his tactical switch to a back-three has proved a great success. It makes use of three very experienced defenders in Jose Fonte, Winston Reid and James Collins, and also allows the Hammers to play without the inconsistent Cresswell. The change has ultimately been forced as the right-back area continues to be a problem, but it has also allowed Arthur Masuaku to flourish in the wing-back role. Stoke were largely the better side in Saturday’s game and if it wasn’t for a resolute defence, things would have been a lot worse.

No way back for Aaron Cresswell

Masukau has been in top form since returning to the first-team in recent weeks. His performance in the first-half at the Bet365 Stadium was great because he faced a mixture of both experienced and creative players in Mark Hughes’ side. The 23-year-old barely made a mistake in defence as he blocked, tackled and cleared everything that was thrown his way. Cresswell, 27, came on at half-time and instantly let Glen Johnson whip a dangerous cross into the box. If West Ham continue to adopt their current formation, it is much better suited to the former Olympiakos defender and that could spell the end of Cresswell’s time in East London.

In other West Ham news, Danny Murphy has said what the Hammers must do in the summer.

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