West Ham prepare to welcome Bournemouth to the London Stadium this weekend as they look to claim their first victory of the Premier League season.
The campaign got off to a less than ideal start for the Hammers last weekend after Liverpool put four past Manuel Pellegrini’s new-look side. It was never going to be an easy fixture for the Irons, but the new boss and the West Ham faithful will have expected a better performance than what was served up at Anfield.
West Ham team news
Pellegrini confirmed yesterday that the only players who are unavailable for the clash against Bournemouth are long-term absentees Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini. Following last week’s crushing defeat at Liverpool, it would be no surprise to see the new Hammers boss ring the changes for is opening home fixture at the club.
Given the lack of organisation in the defence against the Reds, changes to the backline seem quite likely for the Irons. Left-back Aaron Creswell may well make his return to the side after Arthur Masuaku had a miserable afternoon on Merseyside on Sunday. Elsewhere, the experienced Pablo Zabaleta could also be drafted into the starting lineup for Ryan Fredericks, who struggled to impress on his West Ham debut.
Captain Mark Noble and England international Jack Wilshere should maintain their places in midfield, but Declan Rice, who was replaced at half-time last weekend, could be under threat of losing his place in the side. Pedro Obiang seems the most likely to deputise for the youngster after Pellegrini confirmed yesterday that he is not sure whether Deadline Day arrival Carlos Sanchez will be fit to play.
The Hammers’ offensive players will be hoping to have much more of an impact than they did on the opening day. Andriy Yarmolenko will be looking to make his debut for the Irons, but may well have to settle for a place on the bench again. Although the West Ham boss has various options to select from in the forward positions, including new boy Lucas Perez, Pellegrini could stick with a similar front four to last week.
What has the manager had to say?
The new West Ham boss will be hoping to get his first three points on the board, in his opening home game for the club – but he is aware that it will not be an easy game, as he said:
“At home, I think the team has the personality to go for the three points from the beginning. Away, you may have to defend more but at home, you must be aware of counter-attacks but try to create options against the team who come to defend.
“Bournemouth are a very good team also. I hope we will have the personality we need to start well and win the first game at home. I saw a lot of games of Bournemouth from last season, especially this week and they have the same manager and style of play from when I was at Manchester City. They have a lot of the same players as well and they are a good team who will always try to play.
“We must try to recover the ball as soon as we can and not to lose possession. We have a team in Bournemouth who don’t come to defend away, they have good players and good strikers and we must work as a balanced team.”
Bournemouth team news
The Cherries will be coming into the fixture full of confidence following their opening day 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Cardiff City. In what looked like it could potentially be a tricky encounter for Bournemouth, they dominated the possession with 63% and limited the Welsh side to just one shot on target. Ryan Fraser put Eddie Howe’s side ahead in the 24th-minute, and after missing an earlier penalty, Callum Wilson sealed the win in injury time.
Ahead of their visit to the London Stadium, the Cherries have no fresh injury worries. Former West Ham youth product Junior Stanislas remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Kyle Taylor is still struggling with a muscular problem. They will also be without defender Diego Rico after the summer signing from Leganes received a red card on the final day of last season and remains suspended.
Bournemouth’s record signing Jefferson Lerma could be in line for his debut against the Hammers. The Colombian didn’t play against Cardiff, but Howe said that the £25m man has had a good week in training and is getting closer to being available.
Cherries’ key man
Callum Wilson is sure to be a handful once again for the Hammers defence. The striker has scored four goals in four games against the East Londoners, including a hat-trick in Bournemouth’s 4-3 win at the Boleyn in 2015. Wilson also notched a controversial late equaliser against the Irons last season at the Vitality Stadium.
Despite suffering a number of serious injuries over the last few seasons, the Bournemouth forward has proven himself to be more than capable of causing any Premier League defence problems. Wilson will look to stretch the Hammers defence, as he often plays on the shoulder and exploits the space in behind the backline at every possible opportunity.
How can West Ham look to stop him from being a thorn in their side once again?
It looks like the forward is not very strong in the air, with a record of just 21.28% of aerial duels won last season. If the Hammers press from the front and force the Cherries into playing the ball long to Wilson, the defence should be able to deal with the forward more comfortably in the air. But, if they let Bournemouth get the ball down and play the ball into the striker’s feet, in and around the box, then they could be in trouble.
Read the key battle for the clash here.
West Ham have a relatively hit and miss recent record against the Cherries, having won just two of the last six encounters between the two sides.
As previously mentioned, Bournemouth claimed a 4-3 victory at the Boleyn in 2015, which was the first time the pair met in the Premier League. The Hammers got their revenge later on that season, though, when they secured a 3-1 win at the Vitality. The next fixture between the teams was West Ham’s opening Premier League fixture at the London Stadium, where Michail Antonio scored a late winner. The Cherries then saw off the Irons 3-2 at home, later on in the 2016/17 campaign.
Last season, the two sides played out draws in both matches. Despite an inspired performance from Marko Arnautovic, in which the forward scored twice, Howe’s side scored a controversial 93rd-minute equaliser, to ensure the game finished 3-3. The most recent meeting was a bit less exciting, with Chicharito notching a goal for the Hammers in a one-all draw.
Don’t forget that you can follow West Ham United’s first Premier League home game of the season live right here on West Ham Matters, with our Live Blog, live from London Stadium from 1 PM.