Match Preview

Predicted Lineup v Watford

Subs: Roberto, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Yarmolenko, Fornals, Wilshere

Manuel Pellegrini has a fully fit squad, with the exception of Winston Reid. He has some big selection decisions to make in most areas of the pitch. I suspect Mark Noble will be recalled at the expense of Jack Wilshere in midfield, while Balbuena will return to central defence after Ogbonna’s shaky performance at Brighton. Up front it is reasonable to think that Anderson and Haller will eclipse Fornals and Hernandez. Antonio’s form will keep Yarmolenko on the bench, I’d have thought.

Talking Point

Keeping the Faith is Getting Harder

Guest Post by Rugby Irons

So our tinker man has shuffled the pack and still picked a near losing hand. I sense more supporters are starting to question our Manager’s performances, and I think it’s right to do so . Every player is scrutinised so why not the manager?

A team manager is basically judged in three areas – Preparation, tactics and squad selection.

We had a long mileage pre-season which didn’t seem to achieve progress in the two prime aims. If it’s for fitness then it failed. Two games in and we already look tired, leggy and of course injured. If it was to prepare for new players coming into the squad, that didn’t happen either. We seem to have not learnt any lessons from last season. In terms of what is done on the training ground it looks short of intensity and does anyone really know what MP’s team plan is from one game to the next?

Which brings us to tactics. It’s a fantasy to believe just because we have good, promising flair players, we can just outscore the opposition each week. One shot in the first half yesterday to their seven could not be clearer. MP looks like he doesn’t have a plan that the team knows how to operate. If you rough up Wilshere and Anderson, then we cease to function. Our transition becomes easy to stifle. If you play one up then they have to be a threat but (bar his goal) Chico is way too weak . He needs a supply of chances that will not come. I had hoped the flair players would win more freekicks but we can’t even do that properly. Stop the pointless tap to freekicks and get the ball in or at least shoot. We simply lack a structure that the players can understand.

And so to the selections. Fab picks himself. If you go four at the back (and he will) because any three he picks wouldn’t have the pace, then you can’t pick Cresswell and you must pick Fred. Any two from the three centre halves is only going to give you some strengths but equally some weakness. MP stupidly didn’t address the most basic problem of sorting the defence and so we haven’t progressed. Every team we play know this and will all fancy scoring. I sense our first clean sheet is still a long way away.

The middle is full of flair but you have to have the ball first and we simply don’t retain it long enough. Rice cannot do it all. In attack Haller has impressed in his bringing the others into play but without him you simply can’t pick Chico to lead the line. He was terrible yesterday, and his goal doesn’t change that. You have to go with a threat, and that’s Antonio. And frankly not picking Ajeti for Sanchez was pointless. Give the lad 10 minutes and find out what you have. MP doesn’t use his subs well as a rule, and he must improve on this.

There is no doubt the ability is there but the lack of intensity that we had last season hasn’t changed. There is no real heart in the team and that’s also why we can’t put two good halves together. All the potential is there but now Pelligrini has to raise their game and more importantly raise his own. His calm mumbling manner is not working. Collectively we need a real big kick up the backside, and now, before the rot sets in. It may seem we are only two games in but in truth it’s more like two seasons as nothing has really changed.
We should be looking at 6 points from the next two league games and a Cup win, but only time will tell as to whether Pellegrini can pick and motivate the right players for the job. I really hope so.

Match Thread

Match Thread: Brighton v West Ham

Brighto v West Ham
FA Premier League
Amex Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None

Please comment on the match as it progresses.

Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Manchester City

West Ham v Manchester City
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 12.30pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: talkSport

Think of me in an Edinburgh bar watching this, no doubt the only Hammers supporter there. Hey ho.

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.

Player Analysis

Who Will be in Our First Eleven?

There is little doubt in my mind that we now have the strongest squad we have had in the last fiftee years. Our midfield is as strong as any outside the top four. My only real worry is that we are a little light on backup strikers.



There’s no doubt who is number one, so Fabianski gets the nod



Diop and Balbuena were outstanding last season and will undoubtedly start the season as our first choice pairing.



Ben Johnson could be the surprise of the season but Ryan Fredericks will be seeking to cement his first choice position. He will start as number one at right back, but I wonder whether that’s where he’ll finish. On the left hand side I would play Aaron Cresswell, but I suspect the manager may disagree, with Masuaku starting as first choice.



Here’s where the fun starts. Rice is an automatic choice and Wilshere has had a fantastic pre-season. Manuel Lanzini will surely the the other first choice midfield if we’re playing 4-3-3, but it may be that Fornals then takes one of the forward positions.



Haller will obviously be an automatic choice, with Anderson on the left. Yarmolenko has looked good but I would have thought Michael Antonio ought to get the nod against Manchester City.

So here’s our first eleve to start with…


Subs Roberto, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Fornals, Yarmolenko, Hernandez

Bet I’m wrong, though.

Copyright © 2019 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.