Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 34: West Ham

Sunday afternoon sees Manchester City host West Ham United in the final Premier League fixture before the international break. A win for City will see them likely top the league going into the Manchester derby on September 10. Ahead of Sunday’s game we spoke to ExWHUemployee, a devoted Hammer whose writing can be found at The West Ham Way.

First of all, let’s talk about West Ham. You’ve recently moved into your new stadium. Combining this with the new TV deal, is this the ideal time for West Ham to kick on as a club?

This should be our time to kick on and really see if we can establish ourselves as a bigger club than we were. Naturally our attendance figures will increase by 20k a game and we now have a stadium to attract the best players. I would use Manchester City as the model we aspire to be and hopefully in time we will be able to come some way to matching your achievements. There has been teething problems with the stadium and of course this will all take time. The immediate concern at the moment though are our performances. We haven’t played well in any game this season so far, even the 1-0 win against Bournemouth. Injuries have taken their toll already and it is vital we start to get players back fit and produce the performances that we all expect from the club.

Let’s talk about West Ham’s transfers, and in particular City’s Wilfried Bony, who has been linked. Just how likely is a move to West Ham after Slaven Bilic’s comments?

It appears that our number one target now is Zaza from Juventus and we will hopefully complete the move today (Friday), and he may be ready in time to face you guys. Bony was a target and both the manager and chairman have admitted this. I am led to believe he is going to secure a permanent move to China and that we would then loan him from you until January when his move to his new club goes through. I think if we sign Zaza we will need to sell at least one player (possibly Valencia and Obiang) to finance the loan move of Bony. I personally would love us to sign him as before his move to City he was a proven Premier League goalscorer.

Following on from this, how important is it that West Ham DO add a striker? Looking at it from an outsiders point of view, Ayew and Carroll are both injured, while Enner Valencia has shown poor form. It seems as if West Ham are one piece of the jigsaw away?

It is essential that we get one and that should be Zaza. We have looked woefully short up top. Valencia has unfortunately flopped in England and we cannot rely on him to get us goals, Calleri is new to the league and has already missed a couple of sitters (although I think he will improve) and Fletcher is young and unproven although he has looked talented in the games I have seen so far. With Carroll (no surprise) and Ayew out injured I would want us to sign at least one new forward and if our budget permits two.

On to Manchester City now. We ourselves have made many changes this summer, none more so than the manager! Looking at our squad and coach from a neutrals point of view, how do you see us faring under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola?

You are my tip to win the league. I think it will be close this year between Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea but I think City will have to enough squad depth to win it. You have made some good signings and I think you have one of the best managers in the world. I am surprised he has made the decision to get rid of Joe Hart but often you find new managers come in and they look to make their mark like that. Jose has done it at Manchester United as well with Schweinsteiger.

Let’s talk about Sunday – is there an area in the West Ham side that is vulnerable?

As I have touched on before we have a real lack of creativity at the moment and many injuries. Our forward line is very week and I fear that we will not offer much attacking threat against City. I hope Zaza completes his move in time for the match and if he doesn’t we will be very weak up top.

Finally, your prediction for Sunday’s game?

I am generally coming across as quite negative on here which isn’t really like me but we just haven’t performed this year and I think Bilic would be the first to admit that. If we could get a point out of the game I would be delighted but I don’t see this happening. We won in the corresponding fixture last year but there were different circumstances and I would be amazed if it happened again. I hate to say it but I think we will lose 2-0.

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