The signing of Nelson Semedo was big for several reasons.
Firstly, it shows that the plan all along was to upgrade on Matt Doherty. Whether or not it works out that way, acquiring Barcelona’s first-choice right-back is a signal of serious intent.
Moreover, it proves the Doherty and Jota departures were never a case of Fosun reigning things in and slowing down progression – quite the opposite.
And while it’s uncomfortable to have dispensed with two proven Premier League talents, the end result is a stronger, more balanced squad.
I’d be surprised if there was any other significant ins or outs now and if this is what we’re working with, I’m confident about the road ahead.
The Hammers haven’t yet improved their squad at all in this window.
Tomáš Sou?ek was a smart signing and helped them stay up last season but turning that loan into a permanent deal was never going to be enough to suggest progress.
Selling Grady Diangana to West Brom didn’t do much to lift morale either and back-to-back defeats has already ratcheted up the pressure on the Irons.
That said, they were able to string together a good sequence of results just a few months back to ensure survival and were unlucky to go down late to Arsenal last time out.
A crushing 5-1 cup win over Hull in midweek will also have helped lift some of the gloom, despite David Moyes having to watch from home after going down with Covid.
The Scot will also be missing from the dugout for this one but connected via video link to add another strange twist to an already surreal situation.
I always look at West Ham and feel like there’s a good team somewhere within the group of players they possess but somehow they never seem able to achieve the right balance of quality and effort to get consistency.
That confusion on the pitch is likely a result of the muddled efforts higher up, which is the real problem they need to solve.
The home end
Some comments lifted from the pre-match thread on the Knees Up Mother Brown forum.
We haven’t even scored against this lot for 4 matches straight. I think the 3-5-2 is custom-built for this; it seemed to offer us a bit more energy in the 3rd quarter of the match, vs Arsenal and, hoping against sensible expectation, Moyes/Irvine will be moved to make earlier substitutions, if we stand a chance of maintaining pressure in the oppo’s final third. I’m going full Allardyce here. We win 0-0 and that will do me. We can take the handbrake off at Goodison, to compensate.
I’m normally one of the more optimistic ones… but not against Wolves. They play us off the park every single time. I’m expecting a depressing 90 minutes.
I find Wolves a complete and utter mystery on several levels, which, admittedly is partly attributable to my poor knowledge of non-PL football. Firstly, someone remarked last week how amazing their side is on paper. Yet, I’d only ever heard of 4 of their players prior to them rocking up at Wolves, and many of them just seem to be Portuguese youngsters, and very few of them have any kind of “astonishing” record prior to Wolves. Check out Jimenez’s goalscoring record before Wolves. It was very mediocre. How they’ve performed so well at PL is a mystery (to me), and presumably an example of fantastic scouting. I mean, they’re no Nordveit, Feghouli or Caleri, or any of the other overseas randoms we end up with! Secondly, someone else remarked that they’re just a front for Jorge Mendes’ clients to get them in a gig in English football. But if they’re as good as their PL showings have shown them to be, why wasn’t there a queue for them? Why does Mendes need a front to get them a gig? Are Wolves just lucking out with how good these players are? Thirdly, they have TEN Portuguese players in their squad and only THREE English players, only one of whom is a first-team squad member (unless you also include their reserve goalie). How do they get away with that? Fourthly, why do they never get any injuries? Fifthly, did they really sign a player called Vinagrey? That is all.
If you were going to chuck any player straight into the team it would surely be someone with considerable experience at the highest level?
That said, I can easily see Nuno starting with Traore back there and changing it later. If he does play Semedo who does he drop? Neto? Traore? Podence?
City targeted Adama on Monday, swarming all over him when he had the ball in his own half, knowing they could get possession in a good area to launch their own attacks. It worked very well for them.
But when he was further up the pitch they had no answer for his wing play to again underline the area of the pitch he needs to be playing.
If Marcal is out, now is the time for Vinagre to get a good 10 game run. It’s about time we gave this man a proper chance to make the position his own and take his game forward.
Nobody correctly guessed the 3-1 scoreline on Monday, but a few did forecast defeat to accumulate points and set the pace early doors in the overall table.
As always if you’d like to join in, simply leave your prediction for this game in the comment section below, which is where you’ll find my best guess.
Up The Wolves!