There was much made of the fact we had a tough start to the season.
But the reality is over the first 11 games, it’s been a comfortable ride.
We’ve only played one of the seven teams above us in the table and none of the really big hitters.
Between now and Christmas we’ll get a proper idea about the ceiling of this group and that starts this weekend against a really smart looking West Ham side.
It was a bit of a no-show against Palace and I didn’t like how we just seemed to get worn down and put to sleep in that game. We must do better tomorrow or we’ll be in big trouble again.
Between the league and cup competitions, the Hammers have seen off everyone.
Liverpool experienced their first loss in any competition at the London Stadium just before the international break and are now looking north in the table at David Moyes’ team who sit just three points from the summit.
Both Manchesters have been dumped out of the League Cup and they’ll rightly feel they’ve got as good a chance as anyone to win that trophy. The same applies to the Europa League where they’ve been dominant in most of their games to date.
None of this is a surprise. They were good last season and have just carried on that steady consistency and improved as a team.
That said, there is hope with mid-range teams like Palace, Brentford and Southampton all getting results against them.
I like the balance of quality and elbow grease, which isn’t something you’ve been able to say about West Ham teams over the years. Good for them.
It’s a blow to lose defender Angelo Ogbonna to a serious-looking injury and that may hamper their progress with so many games stretching the squad.
But they’ve still got a strong looking spine with Zouma, Rice and Antonio surrounded by players like Bowen, Benrahma and Soucek who’ve shown they can win games against the best.
The away end
Some thoughts lifted from the pre-match thread on the Knees Up Mother Brown forum.
We are going to learn an awful lot about our team in this game. In terms of how focused, hungry and determined they are to finish as high in the table as we did last season. It would be classic West Ham to pull off a shock win against Liverpool, then turn up to Molineux and get our tummy’s tickled. Hopefully we’ll want the win as much as we did against Liverpool!
Saw a good interview a couple of weeks ago with Coady explaining that the new manager had completely changed their style. They don’t sit back so much like they did under Nuno. They now press a lot more. Coady seemed genuinely enthused and motivated in a similar way Moyes has got our guys. Jiminez is back this season too. He is top calibre and makes a big difference to them in my opinion. I don’t think this is going to be an easy game at all. Then again…we are massive.
Tough game this for me. They will likely want to counter and frustrate us but if we are patient in possession, like the Villa game we can come away with 3 points. Coady struggles against a quick, physical striker. If Antonio is raring to go, he will win us this game.
Both teams at their peak we are certainly the stronger. But margins are very fine in the prem and if you are not at it you struggle. They will probably sit back and try to counter us. They have players that that can hurt on the break. Guess they will try Traore against Cresswell so he needs to be disciplined and not leave space in behind. We need to be ruthless and take our chances. 2-3 (Jiminez, Hwang : Dawson, Benrahma, Antonio), nervy finish.
I think Bruno has some tough calls to make in this one. We were too passive and too lightweight as an attacking force against Palace and I do worry West Ham could bully us out of this in a similar fashion.
The obvious solution is to add some muscle and Traore for Trincao is like night and day in that respect. I don’t think we look as fluid in possession without Trincao but Adama’s directness could be an asset here and give them more to think about.
With a similar rationale, he might consider Dendoncker in midfield or Marcal in defence just to make us a bit more robust and nasty against a team that will test us all over the pitch.
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Last time out
We got doubled last season having doubled West Ham the previous two seasons. Hopefully we’re not working towards symmetry. It turned into a proper battering at the London Stadium and could have been worse than the eventual 4-0 scoreline in what was arguably the worst performance we ever saw under Nuno.
At 3-0 down in the reverse fixture it threatened to get even worse, but we got it back to 3-2 and possibly did enough over the course of the 90 to warrant a point.
Nobody predicted a 2-0 defeat at Selhurst Park so it was slim pickings for Prediction League points last time out.
Cannock Wolf still leads the way at the top of the overall table at the end of Gameweek 11.
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You can read my prediction for the game in the comment section below.
Up The Wolves!
Polite request – when commenting in the preview article after the game has finished, can you not place score predictions in the boxes, please? It confuses the system. Many thanks.