West Ham United Premier League Preview
Players In: Modibo Maiga, Alou Diarra, James Collins, Jussi Jaaskelainen, George McCartney, Mohamed Diame, Stephen Henderson, Raphael Spiegel
Players Out: Pablo Barrera, Fred Sears, Marek Stech, Abdoulaye Faye, Oliver Lee, Rob Green, Frank Nouble, Sam Cowler, Jordan Brown
Big Sam is back in the Premier League backed by the Davids Gold and Sullivan and West Ham will need to start the season brightly. Allardyce came under a lot of pressure last season from the fans for playing the Allardyce way rather than passing the ball about like the West Ham teams of old. If the fans aren’t placated early on in the season Allardyce could be facing the chop.
Allardyce has signed his former keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen whilst George McCartney returns for the second time from Sunderland. Modibo Maiga will be crucial for this team as goals could be something of a problem for the Hammers. Experienced Alou Diarra and former Wigan player Momo Diame will add steel to the midfield.
In Matt Taylor and Kevin Nolan they have goals from midfield and these could prove the difference for West Ham if they are to survive. Don’t expect West Ham to play open attacking football, they will defend deep and look to play on the counter using the strength and pace of Maiga to hold up play and bring the midfielders into. Maiga’s scoring record is hardly prolific so the likes of Nolan and Taylor will need to contribute.
With two tough tackling purchases, Allardyce’s plans for his midfield are fairly clear with one of these likely to start with Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan and it will be these players that make the difference. Noble’s neat passing and Nolan’s drive from midfield will need to pull this side through to the final game.
First game analysis:
West Ham reverted to type for their first game of the season, and their direct approach worked handsomely, a clip into the box was flicked on then returned for Kevin Nolan to tap into an open net. The approach has worked infallibly for Big Sam at Blackburn, Bolton (not so at Newcastle) and with eight summer signings coming in West Ham look serious in their attempt to avoid the drop. Players with European experience have shored up the Championship squad and if they buy-in to his long-ball game safety could be on the cards.
On the surface everything looks fine for another Allardyce survival season but with the fans visibly disappointed with the style of football a bad start could prove disastrous. Their opening fixtures are fairly friendly which becomes a double edged sword if they don’t pick up points and then face the tougher fixtures low on confidence. It could be a struggle this season with Allardyce’s position in doubt.