Opposition Q & A

This weekend West Ham fans will travel to the south coast to see if we can follow up that great win against Arsenal with one against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday. Ahead of the game I spoke to Peter Bell of CherryChimes to discuss the game and season so far.

Hi Peter, although you are not currently getting the results that saw you reach the dizzy heights of sixth in the table at the end of October, you must be pretty happy with how your season has gone so far? What have been the highlights and lowlights?
There have been a few highlights. I would say the 0-4 away win at Watford was the most satisfying. We have always had a good rivalry with the Hornets and to do them on their own turf was a pretty good feeling.
If I had to pick a bad experience it would have to be the this recent run that the team have been on as a whole. Since beating Fulham away in October it’s been pretty much downhill all the way. usually we pick up some points against the top six, but we haven’t looked like being competitive at all when we take the field against the big guns and the injuries to Adam Smith, Lewis Cook and Simon Francis have really hurt the team’s performances.

The transfer window is yet again upon us, and the rumours are starting to fly around, is there any area of the squad that you think needs strengthening?
Well, we have brought in two players already which is great for us in the January window. I think Nathaniel Clyne is the sort of player we should be signing as an experienced international player and he’ll improve the right side. I am not sure if Dominic Solanke will be an immediate hit but we needed another striker with Defoe going out on loan. I’d like to see another central midfielder come in but I expect any further movement will be out going and may include Marc Pugh who has been a fantastic servant for the club.

I’ve seen, as no doubt you have that Bournemouth have put a £70Million price on Callum Wilson, is that a slightly overvalued price? Who would you be particularly loathe to see leave this January?
I think it is hard to justify any prices these days. How much does it cost to buy an experienced Premier League striker who is getting better and scoring regularly this season? Bournemouth can almost name their price if they really want to sell. I would say £70m is a fantastic deal, but I’ll believe it when I see Chelsea bid that much. Bournemouth would turn down anything south of £50m though as Wilson is so important to the way the team plays.

On the other hand who wouldn’t you mind seeing depart to pastures new?
If we could get better players in to replace numbers in the summer then I’d say time is up for a few players that have served the club well. Artur Boruc, Charlie Daniels, Harry Arter, Marc Pugh and Jordan Ibe are all players that I would say might be under threat come next summer. At the moment Eddie Howe won’t want to lose anyone as the squad isn’t that big.

Are you sticking with your early season prediction for Manchester City to lift the Premier League Trophy? Who are your picks for the top four slots?
I still think the title race is open. Money and history tell me that Man City are still likely to do it, but I’d be really pleased if Liverpool could win the title. I like Jurgen Klopp and would like to see Liverpool finally do it. They’ve waited long enough.
I’ll go – Champions Liverpool, 2. Man City, 3. Spurs, 4 Chelsea

Likewise you picked out Cardiff, Huddersfield and Newcastle for the drop – any changes to these?
I can’t see Huddersfield finishing anywhere but 20th, it’s tougher to pick the others. I want Fulham to survive but Ranieri has to start winning games soon. I just can’t see them doing enough though so Fulham 19th, and I have a feeling that Newcastle will catch and overtake Cardiff to leave the Welshman in 18th place. So I reckon, I’ll have got two out of three from my early season prediction.

What do you think of Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure as West Ham manager so far this season?
He had a rough start but he has certainly got the Hammers playing well now. he had to get them to enjoy playing at the London stadium and once he had achieved that, he started to do okay. I think the signing of Felipe Anderson was key and it looks like Declan Rice has improved the solidity of the team not to get beaten. It seems a far cry from the London stadium last season with all those ugly protests. But I am sure many West Ham fans still aren’t happy.

What positions are Bournemouth and West Ham going to finish the season in?
Well pre-season I said 14th for Bournemouth and I’m coming back round to that idea now unfortunately. West Ham should be a bit stronger but I don’t think the Irons will be good enough to get above Everton and Leicester so I’ll say ninth.

How are Bournemouth going to line-up against West Ham this weekend?
It should be back to a familiar line up, although Adam Smith is still likely to play at left-back. I expect Wilson will be back for this one. We know how much West Ham fans like his hand in the goals!

Clyne, S Cook, Aké, A Smith,
Brooks, Gosling, Lerma, Fraser
Kin, Wilson

In the Premier League era, since your promotion you are just shading us in terms of results: are you going to continue this on Saturday? Prediction for score?
I’d make West Ham favourites with the recent form with Bournemouth. But from what I recall it is only clubs from the top six that have taken all three points from Dean Court this season so I don’t see it being easy for West Ham. I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.

Well thanks to Peter for his time, for my part I think we shall even up recent results between our two teams, and will go for a narrow 1- 2 away win. COYI

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