Premier League 2015-16 season preview: West Ham United
West Ham is a club that has survived plenty of turmoil to go along with some fireworks and some more unsettling moments. The departure of Sam Allardyce signals a new era, and with the Hammers ready to move into the Olympic Stadium next season, there is a buzz around the team.
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Spending under the radar of other clubs above them in the table, West Ham made some incredibly shrewd signings this summer, and their new manager is highly spoken for.
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Already under way in the Europa League, the Hammers have an advantage of having meaningful matches under their belt as the league season begins.
Best Possible XI:
Transfers In: Dimitri Payet ($16.5 million, Olympique Marseille), Angelo Ogbonna ($12.1 million, Juventus), Pedro Obiang ($6.6 million, Sampdoria), Darren Randolph, (Free, Birmingham City), Manuel Lanzini (Loan, Al-Jazira).
Transfers Out: Stewart Downing ($8.7 million, Middlesbrough), Jussi Jaaskelainen (Released, Unattached), Guy Demel (Released, Unattached).
Star Player: Dimitri Payet
Bringing the 28-year-old Frenchman over from Ligue 1 after a stellar season was a massive coup - and didn’t go down well with his old club. Nevertheless, Payet is ready to bring an attacking flair to a club starving for some creativity. With Andy Carroll injured to start the season, much of the burden will be on Payet to bring the best out of the strikers he has to work with.
Payet will have less space to operate with this season than he did in France, but he should be a welcomed addition for fans clamoring for a more electric product than the Sam Allardyce days bore. He’s already played in a Europa League match for his new club and logged an assist just 23 minutes in, so the outlook is promising.
Last Season: 12th in the Premier League - Last season, West Ham looked promising at times, but conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, leaving many fans yearning for more. The team especially struggled down the stretch causing Big Sam, whose West Ham tenure started with a bang and ended with a thud, to leave via mutual consent.
Coach’s Corner: Slaven Bilic was brought in to usher the club away from the Sam Allardyce era, and he’s had a chance to learn his squad via some early Europa League qualifiers. He has some experience against Premier League clubs, having beaten both Tottenham and Liverpool last season in European play.
PST Predicts: This year the team has a deep back line and an exciting attacking crew led by Payet. The club’s weakness early on is a lack of continuity in defense, and one of Bilic’s first tasks will be to figure out who between Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Collins, and Burke represents the best central partnership. If he can figure that out, things seem to have set up quite nicely in the final season at Upton Park, and a top-half finish could be the result. However, squad health will be a major factor, and the depth isn’t spectacular to cover for any poorly placed injuries.