THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS BACK!!!!!
It only feels like yesterday when Ilkay Gundogan tapped home the winner against Aston Villa to win the Premier League title in dramatic circumstances. It’s even less time since Manchester City’s very own Chloe Kelly fired home for England as the Lionesses beat Germany to be crowned European champions for the first time. Yet here we are on the brink of a new season, with the boys looking for a third consecutive league title, and the girls aiming to take on Chelsea and Arsenal for WSL bragging rights.
And it all starts on Sunday at the London Stadium as the boys visit West Ham for the opening game of the season. The Hammers finished in seventh place last season and, instead of looking over their should in recent years, are now looking up the table at even higher finishes. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Hammers, and how their summer has gone so far.
West Ham have played seven pre-season fixtures, winning two, losing one and drawing four. The Hammers got off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory at Swiss side Servette, then beat Ipswich 2-1 at Portman road. Successive 1-1 draws at Borehamwood and Reading were followed by a 3-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.
They ended pre-season with two further draws, 1-1 at Luton before failing to score for the first time when the Hammers drew 0-0 at French side Lens.
New faces and departing stars
The Hammers have made four new signings this summer, spending £30m on big 6’2” defender Nayef Aguerd from Rennes and £32m on Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola arrives from PSG and midfielder Flynn Downes joins from Swansea City. Overall, the Hammers have spent around £80m on summer transfers.
West Ham have kept almost all of their first team from last season, with the exception of Mark Noble, who retired from the game. Andriy Yarmolenko departed for UAE side Al Ain and Ryan Fredericks joined Bournemouth on a free transfer.
West Ham have managed, up to now, to keep hold of England midfielder Declan Rice, and there’s no indication that the star will be leaving London Stadium any time soon.
Ones to watch
West ham have a good array of attackers that can cause the blues problems, as demonstrated last season when they took a 2-0 lead into the break. Jarrod Bowen scored twice that day, but Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini, Tomas Soucek as well as Rice all have the potential to pose an abundance of problems for the blues. Bowen finished last season as the Hammers top scorer with 12 Premier League goals and 18 overall
Scamacca is an unknown quantity and, at 6’ 5”, he certainly has the aerial threat against the blues back line and the best way to handle such a player is to cut off the supply in midfield, limiting his chances of going head-to-head with the City defence.
Who’s the boss?
David Moyes is still at the helm at London Stadium. The former Everton boss guided the Hammers to the semi-final of the Europa League last season, the FA Cup fifth round and the quarter-final of the League Cup, knocking holders City out on penalties along the way.
Moyes has managed 121 matches in his second spell at West Ham, winning 54 and losing 43, giving him a win ratio of 45%.