For some, there simply hasn’t been enough time to recover from the madness that was last season. The winning streak towards the back end of the campaign took it all out of us, so how the players have recovered in such a short space of time we’ll never know! That being said, the Premier League is back, and it’s yet another season opener in London, as the Premier League champions begin their second consecutive title-defence at the London Stadium against West Ham United.
Thanks for joining us! There’s only one place to start really, and that’s the transfer window – a window that has seen plenty of activity for both sides. How would you assess West Ham’s recruitment this summer?
I think we have had a great window. We needed to sign a top class forward and I believe we have done that in Sebastian Haller. I am equally as excited with our deadline day signing of Albian Ajeti, who I think has huge potential from looking at his stats and opinions of his former club’s fans.
We have also added Fornals who was one of the stars of Spain’s Under 21s summer success, and a highly rated 18-year-old Portuguese centre-back as well as two back-up goalkeepers. I personally think this is one of the strongest squads we have had in a long time but perhaps is lacking on a defensive midfielder and a top quality left-back. I would have liked to have seen us sign Fabian Delph from City.
City have such a strong team and I think that they have strengthened well in the areas that they needed. They broke the record transfer fee for a full-back and I think, again, will win the league with the squad they have. I always think it is risky going into the season with only really Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus as the out-and-out forwards, so I guess you need to hope both stay fit for the season.
Given the amount of players signed in attacking positions, should we expect West Ham to adopt a more attacking style of play this season?
Manuel Pellegrini has made it very clear he wishes to employ an attacking formation and to play creative, forward-thinking football. He wants to bring back “The West Ham Way” which is essentially attacking, passing and exciting football. I think we will score a lot this season, and concede a lot too.
We’d love to hear your opinion on Mark Noble’s role this season. Is he on the downward trend given the roles of Declan Rice and Jack Wilshere, or is Noble set to start regularly purely because of his name?
Naturally I think Mark Noble’s role will become less as the seasons go by, but he is still a very important player for us. He is still the captain and I would still expect him to play a large percentage of games. I think perhaps he isn’t an automatic first name on the list now and maybe on the bench for certain games, but no one can underestimate the role he still has to play. The great thing about Noble is when things are against him, it is usually when he performs at his best.
Manchester City and West Ham have already faced each other once this campaign, albeit in the less than ideal conditions of Asia. How would you assess West Ham’s experience in Asia?
I thought we played well to start with against City in Asia, but then a couple of dodgy decisions went against us (thank god for VAR now) and it turned the game. Manchester City’s quality then started to shine through. I don’t really pay much attention to pre-season though.
One year, under Avram Grant, we beat everyone in pre-season including some big teams and then finished bottom of the league, so I’d like to think our performances in pre-season will not be a reflection of how we will play this year.
West Ham have now gone nine games without a win against Manchester City. How do you see this weekend’s game going?
I hate to say it but I think we will lose 2-3. It will be a good game for the BT Sport cameras, but ultimately a disappointing one for us. I think it is probably as good a time as any to play you because you will obviously not be in full momentum and there is no current form as such. However, I do believe we won’t be able to out-score you, so we will lose. If we could get a draw, I would be delighted.
West Ham Predicted Starting XI?
It is hard to predict the team for the start of the season at this stage, but I think it will be something like this: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell, Rice, Wilshire, Fornals, Lanzini, Anderson, Haller.
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