After a painful two weeks of international football it’s back to the real deal on Monday night as we travel to Upton Park to face the side we consolidated our top flight position against by beating them only four months ago. Since then the two sides have changed their management team with our new man Steve McClaren being reunited with the catalyst behind his worst experience as a coach in Slaven Bilic. We’re looking for our first league win of the season in this one although you wouldn’t have thought that given the air of positivity around the club as a whole of late. In only a few months the atmosphere has switched from that of a club at war with itself to one in which all factions are singing from the same hymn sheet, time will tell whether this air of optimism continues but there is no doubt that the best way for that to happen is for those good early performances to begin to equal points on the board.
One of the ways McClaren aims to achieve this is by adding firepower to the starting line up. The lack of cutting edge coupled with Mitrovic’s suspension opens the door for Siem de Jong and Ayoze Perez, both of which are likely to start in this one. If we take this to be the case then it offers a selection headache with one of Anita, Colback, Wijnaldum, Thauvin or Sissoko missing out. I personally can’t see Sissoko or Wijnaldum being sacrificed so the changes are this change will result in either Thauvin sitting out or one of the midfield double pivot being dropped and Wijnaldum beiig moved back, something which will not be unfamiliar to him given the way he made the central midfield position his own at PSV. Personally I’m quite excited about the introduction of de Jong, if we can get runners beyond him we can cause a lot of problems for West Ham and with Ayoze performing admirably in a poor team devoid of creativity last season it will be good to see how he fares with some added attacking quality in and around him.
West Ham have had an unusual start to the season with unexpected away victories at Arsenal and Liverpool coupled with home defeats against Leicester and Bournemouth so in many ways this fixture is a huge one for them, with their supporters looking for evidence that they can pick up wins at home to the teams who will be around them come the season end. Ogbonna in defence is a good addition whilst Sakho and Kouyate complete what may well prove to be a solid spine of their team. According to reports Andy Carroll is back in the fold for this one and whilst it is highly unlikely he will start the game his potential introduction from the bench will be a concern for us given there is still a huge question mark over our aerial strength at the back, particularly after those two goals we conceded at home to Southampton on the first day.
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