West Ham surprised many by finishing sixth in the Premier League last season but they are ambitious to do even better and can lay down a marker by defeating Leicester at the London Stadium.
One point separated fifth-placed Leicester from the Hammers in the 2020/21 campaign but David Moyes will feel that his side is capable of going one step further following an encouraging showing in their opening game with a 4-2 win at Newcastle.
The Hammers showed plenty of character on Tyneside and finished off their hosts with a devastating three-goal salvo inside 14 second-half minutes and victory on Monday night would see them win their opening two fixtures of a Premier League campaign for only the second time, having done so in the 1997/98 season.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with that, St James’s Park is always a tough place for us to go and where things were looking quite dodgy at the start.
“But we came back from behind twice to come away with the three points.
“It gives us a lot of positivity looking into this season and this team hasn’t lost any of the momenta from last season.”
A view shared by West Ham News & Views, who also revealed how much confidence that opening day victory has given everyone at the London Stadium.
“Sunday’s result was one I think the fans really needed to see from the lads,” they told FansBet.
“It showed that we have picked up straight from where we left off last season playing some very good football and winning against teams we should be beating.
“For the first time in a few seasons, it’s nice to feel confident that your team can get results like the one against Newcastle on a weekly basis.”
✅ Dawson (£2m)
✅ Areola (loan)
😟 “We’ve got extra games in Europe and we’ve got the smallest squad in the league.”@TheLawless from @westhamfantv says #WHUFC need to address their squad depth if they are to challenge for a European spot this season.#ByFansForFans 🤝 pic.twitter.com/qxzkr2ebKR
— FansBet (@FansBet) August 23, 2021
West Ham finished last season with their biggest points total in the Premier League as they challenged for the top four places and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification.
And since David Moyes returned for his second spell in charge, they have scored 94 goals in 58 Premier League fixtures – only Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have bettered such a tally in that period.
“I would say the feelings are bittersweet because it was a brilliant season, however, we couldn’t be there in person to see it,” says Dan.
“We were three points off finishing top-four that’s amazing when we were fearing the worst at the start of the season.
“It comes down to David Moyes’s management and the signings we made. The manager wasn’t really backed financially in the transfer window but the signings he made were really smart.
“We got Tomáš Souček on a permanent, we got Vladimir Coufal the right-back, as well as Benrahma and Lingard – smart signings and good tactics.”
West Ham News & Views was also keen to emphasise the impact that David Moyes has had after returning to the club for a second time having left back in 2018.
“The secret to our success was simply David Moyes and his team,” they explain.
“He’s installed a new attitude into our players to never give up and to always put 110% on the pitch which we haven’t seen from some players in a while.
“Players like Cresswell, who there was a strong case for him to be moved on, had a fantastic season last term and looks to be carrying on that form after his performance versus Newcastle.
“I think the perfect example of our improvement under Moyes was the 3-3 Spurs game. Being 3-0 down after 15 minutes, most West Ham fans would turn the TV off because in the past it would have likely reached 4 or 5 by half time.
“But after that 15 minutes, we fought back and to get a point from that game showed the remarkable turnaround Moyes made in our team last season.”
However, repeating last season’s push for the Champions League and eventual sixth place will have to be achieved by a thinner squad that hasn’t yet been fattened up by reinforcements.
Sixth was achieved without a recognised centre-forward for half a season, with further glaring gaps in a squad with which Moyes worked near-miracles. He used 24 players – only Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds used fewer with 23.
There is also the distraction of the Europa League to come as participation in Europe usually comes at a cost to domestic form for West Ham.
“There’s a frustration about our lack of transfer activity,” says Dan. “So far we’ve only brought in Areola on loan.
“It’s very concerning looking at how thin our squad is. If Antonio gets injured we’re in a lot of trouble as we’ve got no backup strikers.
“We’ve got extra games in Europe and we’ve got the smallest squad in the league. It really holds back a bit of that excitement as we’re worrying about what happens if and when we get an injury.
“We have to make some movement if we’re going to build on last season. We had such a good season, this is our chance to cement ourselves in that top eight of the table.
“We want to be finishing in the European spaces, season after season. We want consistency and to get that we need to strengthen the squad, we need strength in depth.”
Meanwhile, West Ham News & Views believe it’s the club’s owners who are reluctant to spend in order to bring that all-important depth to the squad ahead of a gruelling campaign to come.
“We very well know that David Moyes likes to take his time with signings to make sure he gets the right players in,” they say.
“But it doesn’t help when you have a board who are unwilling to invest. That’s what’s causing the frustration, but the window could still be very profitable for West Ham entering the final two weeks, with the club expected to finally start pushing on with signings.”
West Ham did the double over Leicester last season, with two Jesse Lingard goals inspiring their win at London Stadium.
The England international scored nine goals and made five assists in 16 games on loan for West Ham last season but has returned to Manchester United keen to make a mark this season.
But while the 28-year-old is fighting for his place at Old Trafford, the Hammers remain keen to see Lingard return to London before the transfer window closes on August 31.
“We have to go and secure Lingard,” claims Dan. “And we need a striker.”
“If we don’t get him it will be disappointing but we do have Benrahma and I think this is going to be his season to really shine. We saw him against Newcastle scoring one and making one.
“I think we’re going to see big things from him, however, we’ve got more games this season, we need the ability to rotate and I like the thought of having Benrahma and Lingard in the same squad.
“The signing of Lingard could really help push us up an extra place or two in the table so I want to see us sign him.”
But not all West Ham fans are in agreement when it comes to the lengths the club will go to in order to bring Jesse Lingard back to East London, as West Ham News & Views explain.
“If you had asked this question when the season had just ended I would say we need to pay whatever United want for him,” they say.
“However, concerns have started to raise over what bringing Lingard back would do to players like Benrahma’s game-time at the club, with Saïd looking more confident since coming back from international duty.
“If the deal was right and Lingard was willing to fight for his place and provide competition, then I would be all for the deal.
“But he could easily see that as the same situation he currently has at Old Trafford. Granted it will be easier for him to fight for his place here, but it will come down to how he feels about the move if we agree a fee.”
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