Saturday October 22nd 15.00 GMT
We’ll start off the weekend’s previews with a glamour tie, for a change. West Ham is a club that carries echoes of the post-WWII era in Britain, a London still rebuilding itself following the ravages of indiscriminate bombings, a character built on grim resolve and wit. There was a West Ham Way, so we’re told, but quite what that really was is getting ever more difficult to discern through a fog of advancing years.
Money for nothing
Whatever that fabled spirit was we’re willing to bet that it’s nowhere to be found now. Quite what the dashing ghosts of yesteryear would make of West Ham’s vice-chairman, Karren Brady, recent comments about the move from their spiritual home at Upton Park to London Olympics white elephant, the (wait for it) London Stadium, is anyone’s guess.
Going forward yada yada
It’s all good, though. Karen and co. saw it as “…a real opportunity to change the brand values of the club. Rebranding ourselves was really important…”. And really, when you think about, it’s hard to argue with that kind of common sense thinking. It’s just a shame that no-one told the team about the immense benefits of this brave new land as results on the new home turf are not keeping pace with the rebranding department. What do they think they are – footballers?!
Fishing for luckies
Speaking of dismal home form, here comes David Moyes’ happy boys. Their archrivals, Newcastle, have been relegated from the BPL since last May and yet they can claim to have a more recent win in the league than Sunderland can. Ouch. After eight games, the Black Cats sit bottom of the league table with a gargantuan two points to call their own. On the plus side, half of those points came away from home so every cloud and all that…
West Ham have been unlucky with injuries, Andre Ayew’s absence has been a notable loss but they look nothing like the team that so excited fans and neutrals alike this time last year. Defensively they have been run fairly ragged at times; for proof, check out their 4-2 loss to West Brom four weeks ago. It usually takes a Tony Pulis team a good month to score that many.
What’s the French for ‘meh’?
They did well to hold onto Dmitri Payet but the French man has yet to perform to a consistent level this season and the whole team looks a lot flatter as a result. After the highs of last season, Slaven Bilic really has his work cut out as he looks to settle his charges into their new surroundings whilst also tightening things up at the back without sacrificing service to Payet.
It’s hard to know what David Moyes can do with his abject lot. If they manage to avoid the drop this season, he will surely be hailed as a saint for his miraculous powers. In Jermaine Defoe, they have a lethal marksman who is living off scraps and well-meant intentions but the squad is lacking in quality, generally unable to keep a clean sheet and don’t have a ‘winning habit’ that they can draw from for inspiration. Lord knows the manager is unlikely to inspire them.
If there is one thing that Moyes can do for them, though, is to make them really annoying to play against. You’ll probably win but you’ll have to swim in the gutter to get it. With West Ham at sixes and sevens at the moment, they might not have the wherewithal to break through a Sunderland defense should Payet prove to be ineffective. The home side are likely to win a low-scoring affair but the price of 31/10 from BetVictor for a draw is worth a thought.