Premier League 2016/17 Preview – West Ham

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Dimitri Payet was West Ham’s top scorer last season, with 12 goals in all competitions. Image: BBC Sport

West Ham have had an odd summer, as they have been linked to almost every striker in Europe. Come the start of the season, they have brought in Andre Ayew and Jonathan Calleri to support Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia. They are amongst ten new signings as the Hammers move in to the Olympic Stadium, which also include the impressive captures of highly rated defensive midfielder Havard Nordtveit as well as wingers Gokhan Tore and Sofiane Feghouli. These arrivals have prepared West Ham’s squad for Europa League football, where the Hammers will be looking to improve upon last season’s shambolic European campaign. Slaven Bilic’s side really impressed in the league last season, especially new signing Dimitri Payet, and keeping hold of the Frenchman will prove to be West Ham’s best piece of business this summer. November and December will define whether West Ham can push on from last season’s seventh place finish, as they face consecutive games against Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Key Man: Dimitri Payet. The French midfielder proved the signing of last season, chipping in with nine goals, including several impossible free kicks. With West Ham’s new signings coming in, Payet can only improve, having more quality players to support him.

One to Watch: Sam Byram. The young right back joined from Leeds last January, and made four appearances in the second half of the season. Byram has been continually nominated for the Championship Young Player of the Season during his time at Leeds, and will flourish in a West Ham side that is geared towards attacking. His versatility is also an asset, with him being able to be play all the way down the right wing. If he establishes himself at West Ham this season, you can expect to see Byram challenging Nathaniel Clyne for an England spot.

Last Season: 7th   

Prediction: 9th

 

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Premier League Season Review: Part 2

The second part of this season review will focus on the teams that were competing for the Europa League places. Manchester United narrowly missed out on Champions League football, while Southampton and West Ham’s excellent seasons will see them join United in the Europa League. Liverpool managed to play their way out of the Europa League places, finishing 8th.

Manchester United – Final Position: 5th – Prediction: 3rd

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Image: Daily Mail

Manchester United have had a season to forget in the league. The football that they have played has been, at times, abysmal. United only scored one more goal than 17th placed Sunderland, with only Anthony Martial reaching double figures in the league. To make matters worse, United’s big summer signings, Depay, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger, all failed to live up to expectations. The only real positives for United fans will be the strength of the young players that stepped in this season, with Rashford, Fosu-Mensah, and Borthwick-Jackson all impressing.

United failed to kick on this season as I had expected, instead dropping out of the Champions League. Wayne Rooney failed to step up as the key goalscorer, partly down to the role that Louis Van Gaal was playing him. Jose Mourinho will have a tough job on his hands next season.

Southampton – Final Position: 6th – Prediction: 7th

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Image: The Guardian

Southampton’s season can be summed up by one word: inconsistent. A dodgy start was followed by a good run, before the Saints fell away around Christmas. But only Leicester picked up more points in 2016 than Ronald Koeman’s side. Their early exit from the Europa League possibly aided their league form, as Saints’ small squad was rarely stretched. The return Fraser Forster was one of the main positives of the season, Whilst comeback wins against Liverpool and Spurs will live long in the fans’ memories. It will be interesting to see whether Saints can replicate this season with a new manager next season, whilst it will remain to be seen whether the Europa League group stages will be enough to keep hold of the likes of Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama.

Southampton surpassed all expectations in recording a club record sixth place. Instead of battling with the other higher mid-table teams, as predicted, a place in the Europa League looked fairly comfortable for the Saints.

West Ham – Final Position: 7th – Prediction: 14th

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Image: Sky Sports

West Ham have had an amazing season this year, only falling out of the race for the Champions League places very late in the season. Dimitri Payet really set the Premier League alight with his remarkable free kicks and 12 assists, whilst Andy Carroll managed 9 goals despite an injury hit season. Draws turned out to be West Ham’s undoing, as they picked up the joint highest amount of draws, 14, in the Premier League.

Slavan Bilic and West Ham were an unknown quantity going in to this season, and they have pleasantly surprised everyone. Following ‘Big Sam’ was always going to be a tough job, but the future is looking bright for the Hammers.

Liverpool – Final Position: 8th – Prediction: 6th

Klopp-liverpool

Image: Sky Sports

It is difficult to judge Liverpool’s season this year, as very early on it became clear that the focus had switched to next year. The appointment of Jurgen Klopp in October showed a real sign of ambition, and it would not be right to judge him until he has brought in his own players and had a full pre-season with the club. Only Roberto Firmino hit double figures this season, and this really demonstrates how poor Liverpool were. A 4-0 derby win over Everton will be a highlight of this season, as well as beating Manchester City 4-1 and 3-0. Eighth place will probably be what Liverpool fans will be most happy with this season, as it means that they will be able to play without any European distractions next season, but they will be disappointed that their ‘Europa League or bust’ strategy was thwarted by Sevilla in the final.

In my pre-season predictions, I highlighted the importance of October on the course of their season, and this proved to be the case. On paper, Eighth will not look good for a side with the expectations of Liverpool, but you can expect them to challenge for the Champions League places next season.

Vardy right to be sent off, but those penalties were shockers

Leicester’s 2-2 draw with West Ham was certainly packed with controversy, mostly surrounding the performance of referee Jon Moss. Moss gave Jamie Vardy a second yellow card for diving, whilst also awarding both teams soft penalties.

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Jamie Vardy is shown a red card after diving. Image: Mirror Sport

Jamie Vardy’s sending off has proved controversial, but the replays suggest that the referee made the right call. After getting the wrong side of West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna, Vardy looked to move his legs to initiate the contact.

Whether Vardy should have been in that position has also been debated, with replays showing that his first yellow card should not have been given. The striker slid in on Cheikhou Kouyate but did not make contact, with the West Ham midfielder tripping over Vardy after the tackle had been made.

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Replays show that Vardy initiated the contact with Angelo Ogbonna. Image: Mirror Sport

The referee then preceded to give two of the softest penalties that you will see this season. With 6 minutes remaining, West Ham were awarded a penalty for an adjudged foul on Winston Reid from a corner. Despite the referee warning the Leicester defenders before the corner, if you are going to give penalties for holding from corners, you have to be consistent with it. Not only are these decisions not given by the majority of referees, they have not been given this season. That’s not to mention the fact that there were a further two instances in this match alone where a penalty was not given for even more blatant obstruction in the box. Furthermore, there was minimal contact on Reid, who threw himself to the floor.

Leicester’s stoppage time penalty also should not have been given. Andy Carroll was adjudged to have brought down Jeffrey Schlupp as he burst in to the box, but, as with the West Ham penalty, there was very little contact. This came just minutes after the referee missed an appeal for a Leicester penalty for a blatant foul on Huth, and with the crowd on his back, it looks like he was trying to even it out.

What’s your opinion on these incidents? Did the referee get them wrong? Have your say in the comments.

Perfect weekend on Merseyside as Chelsea slump continues

Jurgen Klopp has his first Premier League victory after his Liverpool side came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-1. Chelsea had taken the lead through an early Ramires goal, but Philippe Coutinho equalised just before the break. Coutinho put Liverpool in the lead with a deflected effort, and substitute Christian Benteke sealed the win. Both sides could have had a man sent off, with Lucas committing a professional foul whilst already booked, and Diego Costa kicking out at Martin Skrtel.

Philippe Coutinho's brace ended a run of 710 minutes without a Premier League goal. Source: dailymail.co.uk

Philippe Coutinho’s brace ended a run of 710 minutes without a Premier League goal. Source: dailymail.co.uk

The Blue half of Merseyside will be equally happy, after their 6-2 demolition of Sunderland. Gerard Deulofeu and Arouna Kone put the Toffees 2-0 up. Sunderland pulled level though, as Jermain Defoe’s shot deflected past Howard and Steven Fletcher headed the equaliser. Everton then took the points with three goals in quick succession, as Sebastian Coates diverted a cross in to his own net, Romelu Lukaku scored a fine individual goal and Kone added his second. Kone completed his hat-trick late on with a header to complete the rout.

Manchester City remain top after a nervy win over Norwich. Nicolas Otamendi gave them the lead with a powerful header, but Joe Hart spilt a routine cross for Cameron Jerome to tap in with just minutes to go. But there was still plenty of drama left, as Russell Martin was sent off for handling the ball with John Ruddy well out of position. Yaya Toure converted the penalty, a feat the Aleksandar Kolarov could not equal as City were awarded a second penalty in stoppage time.

Arouna Kone netted his first Premier League hat-trick against Sunderland. Source: dailymail.co.uk

Arouna Kone netted his first Premier League hat-trick against Sunderland. Source: dailymail.co.uk

Arsenal kept up with City with a 3-0 win over Swansea. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, and Laurent Koscielny doubled the lead despite Swansea claiming that Fabianski was impeded. Joel Campbell sealed the win with his first goal for Arsenal. Leicester moved up to third with a thrilling 3-2 win at West Brom. Solomon Rondon headed the hosts in front, but a Riyad Mahrez brace gave the Foxes the lead. Jamie Vardy made it 8 consecutive games in which he has scored, joining Ruud van Nistelrooy and Daniel Sturridge, with a well placed finish. Rickie Lambert ensured a tense finish with a late penalty, especially as Christian Fuchs appeared to commit three late fouls in the area which all went unpunished.

Southampton overcame Bournemouth in a South coast derby. A Steven Davis volley and a Graziano Pelle header gave Saints the lead in the first half, but Victor Wanyama was sent off in the second half for picking up a second yellow card. Odion Ighalo scored both goals as Watford beat West Ham. In a game of shocking defending, his first came courtesy of Andy Carroll failing to clear his lines, whilst his second was an impeccable finish after an error from James Tomkins.

Crystal Palace and Manchester United played out a goalless draw, United’s third consecutive stalemate, whilst Jack Butland almost single handedly held Newcastle at bay, producing six saves to keep the game goalless. On Monday night, Tottenham host mangerless Aston Villa, although Remi Garde will be in the stands prior to his expected appointment.

Hammers pile on misery for Mourinho

West Ham continued their impressive record against the top sides as they beat Chelsea 2-1 at Upton Park. The match was a heated display, as Chelsea had Nemanja Matic sent off, had five other players pick up bookings, as well as having Mourinho and his assistant sent to the stands. Mauro Zarate gave the Hammers the lead as Chelsea failed to clear a corner. Chelsea came within centimetres of equalising, as a Zouma header was scrambled off the line. Cesc Fabregas also had a goal ruled out before Matic recieved his marching orders. Gary Cahill equalised in the second half with a powerful finish from a corner, but Andy Carroll headed the winner with just ten minutes left.

Source: Daily Mail

Source: Daily Mail

Harry Kane will hope his hat trick against Bournemouth will kickstart his season. Moussa Dembele and Eric Lamela also scored as Spurs recovered from a first minute Matt Ritchie goal to win 5-1. Sunderland continued their fine derby form, smashing 10 man Newcastle 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. Adam Johnson opened the scoring from the spot just before half time after Fabricio Coloccini was controversially dismissed. Billy Jones and Steven Fletcher completed the rout in the second half, lifting the Black Cats above their rivals.

Source: Daily Mail

Source: Daily Mail

Arsenal beat Everton 2-1 at the Emirates. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring with a deft header, and Laurent Koscielny doubled the lead two minutes later. Ross Barkley pulled one back before half time with a heavily deflected strike, but Arsenal saw the game out comfortably. Gareth Barry was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking.

Both Ayew brothers scored as Swansea beat Aston Villa. Jordan Ayew gave Villa the lead, but Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised with a free kick. Andre Ayew scored in the 87th minute to give Swansea the win, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Villa boss Tim Sherwood.

Zouma's header was just millimetres from crossing the line. Source: bbc sport

Zouma’s header was just millimetres from crossing the line. Source: bbc sport

Troy Deeney netted his first of the season as Watford shocked Stoke. Almen Abdi completed the scoring as he took advantage of Mark Wilson being caught in possession deep in his own half. Jurgen Klopp is still searching for his first win as Liverpool boss after a 1-1 draw with Southampton. Christian Benteke thought that he had won it for the Reds with a powerful header, but Sadio Mane bundled in to equalise late on. Mane was subsequently dismissed after picking up two needless bookings in stoppage time.

Jamie Vardy has now scored in seven consecutive games, helping Leicester to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Salomon Rondon’s close range header saw West Brom to a 1-0 win at Norwich. The Manchester derby ended up goalless, a result that saw City stay on top of the table on goal difference.

McClaren safe as Toon hit six

After much speculation about his position, Steve McClaren looks a lot safer after his Newcastle side thumped Norwich 6-2. Summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum scored four, with strikers Ayoze Perez and Aleksander Mitrovic also netting. Dieumerci Mbokani had pulled the Canaries back to 1-1, and Nathan Redmond kept them in with a shout by making it 3-2 at half time. The result catapults Newcastle above rivals Sunderland, and they are now just two points from safety.

Source: the guardian

Source: the guardian

Manchester City brought their total to 11 goals in two games with a 5-1 demolition of Bournemouth. Raheem Sterling netted a first half hat-trick, with Wilfried Bony also scoring, whilst Glenn Murray had given the visitors hope with his strike making it 2-1. Bony completed the scoring late on to prove that City could perform without Kompany, Silva or Aguero.

Arsenal sit in second after a second half salvo at Watford. The hosts had held the Gunners at arms length, but three goals in 11 minutes, courtesy of Sanchez, Giroud and Ramsey, secured Wenger’s side the three points. Manchester United are in third after ending their Goodison Park hoodoo. Morgan Schneiderlin opened the scoring with a tidy finish, with Herrera and a rare Rooney goal sealing the win.

Source: the guardian

Source: the guardian

West Ham overcame their old boss Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park. Carl Jenkinson opened the scoring for the visitors, but Yohan Cabaye equalised with a retaken penalty. The game changed as Dwight Gayle was sent off for Palace, allowing Lanzini and Payet to take advantage in the dying minutes. Leicester produced a magnificent comeback at St Mary’s, with Jamie Vardy nabbing a second half brace. Southampton centre backs Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk had given Saints a half time lead, but the Premier League’s top scorer netted the equaliser in stoppage time.

Chelsea remain in the bottom half of the table despite a 2-0 against Aston Villa. The returning Diego Costa and an Alan Hutton own goal saw the Blues through. Saido Berahino netted the only goal as West Brom beat bottom of the table Sunderland, and an early Bojan penalty was the only action of note in the Monday night game as Stoke won at Swansea. Jurgen Klopp’s first game as Liverpool manager ended in a 0-0 stalemate at Spurs.

Aguero hits five and two bite the bullet

Sergio Aguero’s five goals for Manchester City was the biggest on field event of the weekend, as City came from behind to dismantle Newcastle 6-1. The Argentine’s goals came within 20 minutes either side of half time, with Kevin De Bruyne also scoring for City, and Mitrovic scoring for Newcastle.

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Source: dailymail.co.uk

Arsenal moved up to second after stunning Manchester United in the first 20 minutes. Alexis Sanchez scored either side of a precise Mesut Ozil goal to give the Gunners the win, which probably should have been even more emphatic. Chelsea’s poor form continued as they were outclassed at home to Southampton. Willian put Mourhino’s side ahead with an overhit free kick, before a Steven Davis volley levelled things up. Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle netted in the second half to give the Saints a deserved win.

Brendan Rogers was sacked by Liverpool after their derby disappointment, drawing 1-1 at Everton. Danny Ings headed the visitors in front, but Romelu Lukaku equalised just before the break to bring Rodgers’ reign at Anfield to an end. Dick Advocaat had become to first manager to leave his post earlier in the day, resigning after his side threw away a two goal lead against West Ham. Steven Fletcher and Jeremain Lens put Sunderland ahead, but Carl Jenkinson pulled a goal back. Lens was sent off in the second half, and just minutes later Payet equalised for the Hammers.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Two Christian Eriksen free kicks salvaged a draw for Spurs against Swansea, who twice led through Andre Ayew and a Harry Kane own goal. Crystal Palace continued their great start to the season with a 2-0 win over West Brom, with goals from Bolasie and a Cabaye penalty. Jamie Vardy followed up his England call up with a goal at Norwich. Jeffery Schlupp also scored for the Foxes, with Mbokani pulling one back for the hosts. Two of the promoted sides met as Bournemouth hosted Watford. Cherries’ keeper Artur Boruc gifted Watford the lead with a stray pass, but new signing Glenn Murray equalised. Watford stopper Heurelho Gomes saved a late Murray penalty to keep the score level. Stoke have recorded back to back wins as Marko Arnautovic scored the only goal against Aston Villa.

It looks like Jurgen Klopp will be taking over at Anfield, but is he the right man for the job? Have your say in the comments below.