West Ham United
Despite a poor second half to the campaign, West Ham managed to finish one position higher than the previous year when 12th in the Premier League last season. It was to be Sam Allardyce’s final term at the club having guided them to promotion and secured top-flight status and now the mantle passes to former player Slaven Bilic who will be hoping to help the Hammers to break into the top-half of the table.
Betting with most online bookmakers suggests that West Ham will indeed be jostling among the mid-table teams in hope of a top 10 finish, while their odds for relegation are longer than in seasons gone by, so fans can be pleased that the club appears to be heading in the right direction.
One thing that the Upton Park faithful will be crying out for is a decent cup run after West Ham crashed out of the League Cup following a Second Round defeat to Sheff Utd last season. The Irons did slightly better in the FA Cup; following a penalty shoot-out victory over Everton in a thrilling Third Round replay, they edged Bristol City 1-0, but were ultimately outclassed 4-0 by West Brom in the Fifth Round.
West Ham are not among the favourites for either cup competition, but if Bilic can get his squad playing with confidence then anything can happen in a one-off game and Hammers fans dreaming of glory can get a big price when showing loyalty to their side with an outright bet.
A trip to Arsenal to get the Premier League campaign underway is followed by away games at Liverpool and Man City inside the first 6 games, so West Ham will be keen to make the most of their home games over that period. Chelsea visit Upton Park in October and the following month the Hammers travel to face Tottenham, while a trip to Man Utd precedes the festive fixtures which look fairly reasonable on paper. Liverpool come to town to see in the New Year, with Man City visiting later in January and London rivals Tottenham coming in March before a tricky 10 game run-in which includes Chelsea(A), Arsenal(H) and Manchester United(H) and culminates with a trip to face Stoke City on the final day of the season.
Manager – Slaven Bilic
Goalkeepers – Darren Randolph, Adrián, Raphael Spiegel
Defenders – Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, James Tomkins, Joey O’Brien, James Collins, Stephen Hendrie, Angelo Ogbonna, Carl Jenkinson, George Dobson,
Midfielders – Cheikhou Kouyaté, Pedro Obiang, Mark Noble, Diego Poyet, Dimitri Payet, Martin Samuelsen, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio, Victor Moses, Alex Song,
Forwards – Andy Carroll, Mauro Zárate, Pedro Obiang, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Nikica Jelevic, Luka Belic
West Ham Top Goalscorers 2014/15 (All Comps)
Diafra Sakho – 12
Stewart Downing – 6
Andy Carroll – 5
Enner Valencia – 5
Cheikhou Kouyaté – 4
A fully fit and firing Andy Carroll would probably fit the bill and provide Diafra Sakho with more competition up-front, but the feeling is that the former Newcastle man will continue to struggle with injuries and Bilic could do with a more reliable goal-getter. For instance, if Sakho were to suffer a serious injury, where would the goals come from?
Enner Valencia produced a handful of good performances last season and deserves another chance to prove himself under a new coach, who may yet be able to get more out of this group of players when putting his own stamp on the squad.