Will West Ham’s new summer signings inspire their season? Read our 2017/18 season preview with expert views from Soccer Saturday pundit Charlie Nicholas.
Finishing position: 11th (-4)
Total points: 45 (-17)
Key stat: Home form was the bedrock for West Ham as they finished seventh in their final season at Upton Park. By contrast, erratic results at the London Stadium blighted their first term in their new surroundings as they took 25 points there, following 34 at the Boleyn a campaign earlier. Slaven Bilic’s team were often frustrated, losing 22 points from winning positions.
Major ins: Pablo Zabaleta (free), Joe Hart (Man City, loan), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke, £25m), Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen, £16m).
Major outs: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough, £5m), Reece Oxford (Borussia Monchengladbach, loan), Havard Nordtveit (Hoffenheim, £8m), Enner Valencia (Tigres, undisclosed), Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough, £6.5m).
CHARLIE NICHOLAS’ VIEW
Can new signings help West Ham kick on?
NICHOLAS: Well Slaven Bilic has gone for more of ready-made summer signings. Robert Snodgrass didn’t really fit in and neither did Jose Fonte but he’s gone with the same approach with Hernandez, Zabaleta, Arnautovic and Hart.
Hart is a big bonus. There were a lot of mistakes at the back and if he can get them organised then they’ll improve a lot, but I do think they need somebody else at the back, they can’t keep relying on James Collins to come in.
Which of their players are you most excited about watching?
NICHOLAS: What is it that’s going to make the big difference to West Ham? For me, it is Hart. A goalkeeper who is used to challenging for titles is a big boost for them. Against the bigger teams he’ll make a big difference, when the big saves are there to make. He’ll be relishing those games.
Chicharito could score a lot of goals if they create enough chances, but that’s a big ‘if’, especially with Manuel Lanzini being too inconsistent.
What are the challenges facing the manager this season?
NICHOLAS: He can’t afford another season like last one. Too many things went wrong and the club will demand more order this time round.
What are their strengths?
NICHOLAS: I think the strength will be what they had to go through last season. The change of the stadium, the defensive sloppiness, the tough decisions which Bilic had to make.
They wanted to challenge the top six but they ended up closer to the bottom three but they’ve had a season to bed into the new stadium and I think you’ll see them with more of a purpose this season.
They should be stronger because of what they learnt from last season.
What are their weaknesses?
NICHOLAS: They need to be harder to beat. They were thrashed too many times last season, especially in London. It was embarrassing how they turned up against Tottenham to stop them winning the title because that sort of performance was so uncharacteristic given the way they rolled over against the other top sides.
Where will they finish this season and why?
NICHOLAS: Unless Bilic adds some more players and keeps Winston Reid, I still see too many weakness. I don’t see them finishing above 10th.
Back West Ham at odds of 4/7 with Sky Bet to finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table.Euro Soccer Bonus
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