Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: West Ham v AFC Bournemouth

An interesting selection dilemma for Slaven Bilic today. Does he rest some of the players who played in Romania on Thursday or does he try to field his strongest side? There are worrying reports that Andy Carroll has picked up yet another knock and could be out for a few weeks and also it is reported that Payet is not fit enough to start. I pray neither of those reports turn out to be true. It’s almost criminal that Diafra Sakho, who earns £40k a week isn’t fit to take his chance in the first eleven. There are rumours that we are in for Wilfried Bony, who has been cleared to leave Manchester City. Let’s hope there’s something in that.

The other issue will be whether Antonio continues up front or Bilic hauls him back to right back. I can’t see why he would do that when Sam Byram hasn’t let anyone down whenever he has played. Kouyate is out, so will either be replaced by Nordtveit or Obiang, hopefully the latter.

So assuming the reports are true about Carroll and Payet, this is how I imagine West Ham will line up…

Adrian, Masuaku, Byram, Reid, Collins, Noble, Obiang, Tore, Valencia, Calleri, Antonio
Subs: Randolph, Ogbonna, Oxford, Nordtveit, Burke, Payet, Fletcher

There’s no doubt that a good win this afternoon will lift everyone. There seems to be a bit of a mood of despondency surrounding our start to the season so far. This afternoon could change that, but we all know that Bournemouth are a good side and it will not be an easy game to win.

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with the Cherries

This week I spoke to Bournemouth supporter Peter from the Cherry Chimes Blog.

1) What are your expectations for Bournemouth this season? Where can you finish in the league?
Survival is the first requirement for every team and then it is to try and do better than last season. That will be difficult as the league looks stronger, but the quality of the players brought in is high and two or three of them will feature straight off in the starting 11. I’m predicting a confident 14th place this season.

2) Which three teams do you think will suffer relegation and who will lift the title this season?
Like most fans I wonder how on earth Hull City are going to climb out of the mess they are in and they have already been labelled the Aston Villa team ready for the drop! And yet they go and get a result against the Champions with just 13 players available. I am not confident that David Moyes will fit in perfectly at Sunderland and I think the Black Cat fans may not take to his unadventurous style. Lastly, I am going to pick Middlesbrough as Aitor Karanka has not managed in the Premier League before and if things start to go wrong I can see Boro panic. If one of those survive then it could be Crystal Palace that do us a favour.

3) How do you rate West Ham’s manager Slaven Bilic first season in charge, how will he fare in his tricky second season?
It was an unusual season for West Ham. They played some tremendous football for most of the time and even got results against some of the top four and yet in some games they really struggled in the second half of the season. I thought they could have challenged for top four at Christmas, but they just couldn’t sustain it. Bilic is tactically very good and he gave the team enthusiasm and structure, while letting them enjoy their football. He did that while having the pressure of having to keep the team up in a very important season leaving Upton Park so it was impressive as were his signings – Dimitri Payet in particular.

4) What league position can West Ham realistically achieve this season?
I don’t think the Hammers have strengthened enough in the summer to finish higher than they did in 2015/16. Plus, getting used to playing in the Olympic stadium is not going to be quite the same for the fans or the team. I still see them being a top 10 side, but the Europa League is going to distract them more this season. Maybe a finish of 7th, considering what other teams have spent.

5) If you could have any current West Ham player in your first team who would you choose and why?
I’ve had this question before and last season I said Michail Antonio as he would have fitted in well with where AFCB have come from. Now we have Jordan Ibe, I don’t think he would get a look in. So the obvious choice is Dmitri Payet – what team would not want a player who is that gifted at running at defenders and hitting the top corner at 9/10 free kicks?

6) Which Bournemouth player will be key to your hopes this season?
Jodan Ibe is going to be the main man. A lot of fans will expect to see goals from Callum Wilson but Jordan has already shown in pre-season that he has another gear that is spell-binding to watch. The crowd is lifted whenever he gets on the ball and he’ll make things happen.

7) What is Bournemouth’s achilles heel? What will they need to improve on this season?
AFCB don’t defend set-pieces at all well. We were delighted when Andy Carol pulled up early in the game at Dean Court last season as we don’t have strong headers of the ball. Sadly we can’t defend great free kicks either and Payet did his stuff! I still think our keepers have a mistake in them every few games as well and that did not change this pre-season.

8) West Ham have now moved into their new home at the London stadium. Will this help them progress as club in the short term in your opinion or could it hinder them as they get used to their new surroundings?
It is a mentality thing I suppose. As long as the fans get behind them they will enjoy their surroundings, but if results are slow to build and all those fans that bought season tickets become fed up with the results, then things could turn for the worst – but I doubt it will. West Ham can build on the enthusiasm of a new stadium and if they embrace it they will flourish.

9) How do you expect Bournemouth to setup against West Ham on Sunday/ Team/formation prediction?
Boruc, A Smith, Francis, S Cook, Daniels, Ibe, L Cook, Arter, Surman, Gradel, Wilson

10) What is your score Prediction for Sunday?
West Ham win 2-0. I think you’ll remember last season and will have too much for us in this first home game of your season. Hope I am wrong though.

My thanks to Peter from Cherry Chimes for his answers Twitter: @CherryChimes

I am happy to agree with Peter on a two Nil Hammers win but I must admit I am nervous about our Premier League debut at the London Stadium and it could all end in tears if we don’t get off to a good start.

I completed an Opposition Q&A for Cherry Chimes in return which can be found HERE Needless to say I answered these questions from Andre Ayew’s long term injury.

Come on you Irons Sean @WestHamFootball on twitter.

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Parish Notice

Issue Two of Nigel Kahn's New Fanzine Out Now!

Again, as you know, we don’t do advertising on this site, but if we did…

Our very own Nigel Khan has started a new Fanzine and the next issue is out now. It’s free and is packed with great pictures, videos, betting tips, Pubs in E15 checked out, articles by top contributors and previews and reviews of recent games.

You can read it HERE

I hope for once I have made Nigel happy. I know it’s not easy :).

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Parish Notice

An Idea For Your Pre-Match Experience at the Olympic Stadium

We don’t do advertising on this site, so regard this as a public service announcement with no filthy lucre changing hands. Earlier this year, I signed up a book by a businessman called Lance Forman.

He is the owner of Forman’s, Britain’s leading supplier of quality smoked salmon. The book is the story of how his factory had to move from its original location, right in the centre circle of the West Ham’s new home, the Olympic Stadium! It’s a fascinating story of how the government and the LDDC nearly forced his decades old business to close. In the end there is a happy ending and Forman’s new location is only 100 yards from the OS, on Fish Island, just over the River Lea.

As we all look for new pre-match routines, I thought I’d tell you about Forman’s facilities as they have an excellent restaurant and facilities overlooking the stadium. They’re offering Hammers fans three types of pre-match experience, which you can view on their website by clicking HERE. Memberships range from £50 to £1200 per season. I went there before the Domzale game and I can highly recommend it.

You can sit inside or outside, with the view of the OS in the background just 100 yards away. You can find more details of their restaurant HERE. They also have stunning events and conference facilities. And when you’ve finished it’s just a five minute walk to the stadium via a bridge over the River Lea. It’s very different from my former pre-match visit to Ken’s Cafe, but they are a really friendly lot and I’d suggest you try it out and see what you make of it.

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The S J Chandos Column

Do West Ham struggle with aggressive pressing play, could Wilfred Bony solve our striker problem and what about the risk at full-back?

The performance at Stamford Bridge was pretty abject in most respects.The only highlights being the form of Byram (when he came on for Antonio) and Masuaku, respectively at right and left full-back; together with the excellent half volley by James Collins to grab the equaliser. However, it is still early days and we have probably been spoilt, by the flyer that we got off to last season, with the outstanding 0-2 victory at the Emirates. That type of opening away day success is not going to be repeated every season and, regardless of the unpalatable reality of how badly we played versus Chelsea, the fact remains we only ended up losing 2-1. In bygone seasons that performance would have ended in a 3-1 or 4-1 defeat. So, perhaps it does represent progress of a sort. Unfortunately the only served to pile pressure on the squad ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match and, more crucially, Sunday’s first PL match against Bournemouth. And that is regrettable. The Astra match performance was marginally better than Monday night’s and it is likely we will finish the job at the London Stadium. But what is needed is a really big performance on Sunday to comfort those fans of a more nervous disposition and stop them hitting the panic button far too prematurely.

Arguably, one of the outstanding features of the Chelsea defeat was how badly we dealt with their high pressing game. Under Conte’s tutelage, Chelsea adopted a very aggressive, high pressing tactic, which saw their forwards systematically hunting down our players in possession. This resulted, at best, in too many square passes and aimless punts forward and, at worst, enforced errors and the cheap loss of possession in dangerous positions. Yes, our players looked a yard slower than Chelsea’s, but the key thing for me was our inability to cope with this tactic.

The solution to pressing is fast, accurate passing of the ball, using the full width of the pitch. No player can move as fast as the ball in transit and a successful counter-tactic should be passing and movement. That did not happen on Monday night, we just did not seem to be able to pass the ball well or early enough; and, admittedly, movement ahead of the player in possession was nowhere good enough to provide them with many options. It was correctly observed by some fans that we appeared to resort to an over dependence on the speculative long ball forward in this match; but arguably that was largely a product of the success of Chelsea’s pressing tactics and our lack of a more sophisticated response. Although Carroll leading the line was another contributing factor; as is the absence of our two best play-makers, Payet (for most of the match) and Lanzini. With Sakho’s movement and industry up front and Payet and Lanzini’s artistry on the ball we might have been able to counter it. As it was, we were way too far off the pace, sloppy in possession and erratic with our passing..

In considering this important aspect of the match, my mind wandered back to last season’s 4-1 away defeat to Tottenham Hotspurs. In that match, Spurs adopted a very similar approach and we also struggled badly with it. The pattern of play was very similar in both matches, namely, too many enforced errors, loose balls and loss of possession in dangerous positions; together with an inability to move the ball effectively. That led me to ask the question, do we might have an enduring problem with high, pressing tactics? And if we do, is it an Achilles heel that other opponents will exploit?

Well, possibly, one does wonder if opposition coaches will have seen Monday’s match and identified it has a way of playing West Ham. To avoid it, we need our players to demonstrate their technical skills to pass the ball quicker and more efficiently; in combination with greater movement and running off the ball to afford better options for the decisive forward pass. We need our better players available, particularly Payet, Lanzini, Ayew and Feghouli; plus a return to favour of Sakho and his intelligent and industrious link up play and tireless running of the channels. It is something of a cliché to say that we need to make the ball do the work, but nevertheless it is true. And if we play the right type of sharp, one touch, passing game, then the bigger pitch at the London Stadium should prove an asset that we can exploit. West Ham have traditionally always been associated with that ‘one touch’ style of football. And it remains the way forward for our club, especially so in the wide open spaces of our new Stadium.

On another note, the long-term injury to Andre Ayew means that there are still lingering concerns about our strike force. We have Carroll and, hopefully, Sakho will return to first team contention soon. We now also have Jonathan Calleri at the club and available for selection; we can only hope that he adjusts quickly to the PL and can make a positive early impact. Perhaps one of Fletcher or Martinez will be able to make an early transition to the first team, but can we rely on that without a back up plan? I feel that the best available ‘back up plan’ is to bid for Wilfred Bony and that deal can be funded by moving out Enner Valencia. Valencia is obviously not ‘cutting the mustard’ as a PL striker, so should we continue to keep faith or off-load him in this window? We might be able to negotiate a loan deal for Bony or, alternatively, there is a rumour that Man City will accept a fee in the region of £12-13m for their out of favour striker. Yes, Bony’s form has suffered at Man City (as seems to be the fate of many players that join them) but he does have an excellent prior goal scoring record at Swansea. Arguably he is exactly the type of 15-20 goal-a-season striker that we need and, most importantly, he is tried and tested in the PL. All we need to do is restore Bony’s self-confidence and give him the extended run of matches he needs to hit top goal scoring form.

Finally, our full-back situation is precarious and we really cannot afford for it to continue. Ideally we need both another right-back and left-back. I am not overly concerned about adding to our central defenders, but the full-back situation really does need to be addressed, even if it is via taking a couple of players on loan. Not to address the issue is taking a massive risk and with our current bad luck with injuries, do we really want to chance it?

SJ. Chandos

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