West Ham head to the South Coast to take on Brighton & Hove Albion this evening, full of confidence and looking to build upon their recent good form.
The Hammers come into the fixture on the back of a four-match unbeaten run, which included impressive victories over Everton and Manchester United. Manuel Pellegrini’s side appear to have turned a corner and the fans are now fully behind the manager and the squad he has assembled. But can they claim another three points, in a tricky encounter against the Seagulls?
West Ham team news
Following West Ham’s recent results, Pellegrini now seems to have found the right players and system to be a success at the club – so changes are unlikely.
The Hammers boss is expected to stick with the same line-up that faced Manchester United on Saturday, with star man Marko Arnautović cleared to play. The Austrian recently sat out the London Derby against Chelsea and after the clash with United, he revealed that he had been experiencing pain in his knee.
Chicharito could be part of the squad for the first time in three matches, following the strikers return to training this week after overcoming glandular fever. If deemed fit, the Mexican is likely to take his place on the bench – and could make an appearance if the Irons are in need of a goal.
In yet more positive news, fellow forward Andy Carroll is also getting closer to a return to first-team action. Pellegrini has said that the striker will need a couple more weeks worth of training under his belt, but that he has recovered from his ankle surgery and is back in the gym and on the training pitch.
Elsewhere, Carlos Sánchez faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines as he requires surgery on his damaged knee ligaments. He joins fellow long-term absentees Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini on the treatment table.
You can read our predicted Hammers line-up here.
What has the manager had to say?
In his pre-match interview, Pellegrini spoke about how the players have stepped up and continued to improve, as he said:
“I feel we are improving but I don’t know if we are in our best moment but, when you compare what we did in the last weeks, playing the three games at home, when you compare with the start of the season, of course, we are improving. But we must be careful in this moment and we need to continue improving because in the Premier League every game is very difficult.
“I am happy with the reaction to our recent performances, but when the results were not good, I never felt any protests from the fans. I think they trusted a lot in what we were doing.”
When asked about the challenge that Brighton will put up for his side, the Chilean said:
“From what I saw in the previous games, Brighton is a team that will play with a lot of intensity and a team that has played with the same manager for a couple of years, so it’s a difficult team and we know we need to play a good game. We always expect a difficult game against every team for different reasons.”
Brighton team news
After a solid first season in the Premier League last year, the Seagulls have so far endured a difficult opening to the campaign this time around. Chris Hughton’s side have so far amassed just five points from their opening seven matches, with their only victory coming over Manchester United back in August.
It will come as a huge boost to the Brighton boss that Jose Izquierdo is once again available, following his return from a knee injury that has kept him out for most of the season so far. The Colombian proved to be a thorn in the West Ham side last campaign, scoring home and away against the East Londoners.
The Seagulls will be without key man Pascal Gross, though, while his fellow midfielder Dale Stephens faces a late fitness test and is in with a good shout of playing some part in the fixture.
Seagulls’ key man
The key man for Brighton is Glenn Murray, who once again looks to be having a fruitful season in front of goal. The striker netted 12 Premier League goals last term and already has four to his name so far this campaign. He has scored five times in his previous four matches against the Irons, scoring three times when the sides met last season.
Murray isn’t a typical handful for defenders like many other top-level strikers, but he should be respected. The forward may not be quick across the ground, however, he is vastly experienced and picks up dangerous positions in and around the box. If Brighton are to get anything from the game, then Murray is likely to play a major part in that. So if the Hammers can stop him, then they will have a good chance of bringing something home from the Amex.
West Ham have a reasonable recent record against the Seagulls, winning three of the last six encounters between the two sides.
When the pair met in the Championship in early 2005, they played out a 2-2 draw. It would be two years before they would meet again, following the Hammers’ promotion back to the Premier League at the end of that season. The next meeting would come in the FA Cup, where the East Londoners ran out 3-0 winners, back in January 2007. It would be a further four years before West Ham would take on Brighton again, but they recorded a 1-0 away win before hitting the Seagulls for six at the Boleyn later on in the campaign.
The most recent couple of matches between the teams hasn’t gone quite as well for the Irons, though, with Chris Hughton’s side victorious home and away against the Hammers last season.
West Ham will be looking to get their revenge over Brighton and claim another positive result under Manuel Pellegrini when the sides meet this evening.