So after the actual opening game and the official opening game we are finally getting down to the real business of the opening league fixture at the new Stratford stadium. In the process we will be setting a new club record home league attendance surpassing the 42,322 (including my teenage self) that were squeezed into Upton Park for the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in October 1970.
Today’s visitors may now have taken on our pre-state aid mantle of everyone’s second favourite team following their unlikely (usually termed as fairy-tale) rise from the lower reaches of the league pyramid to the very top table of English football. A creditable mid-table finish last season did nothing to diminish the reputation of bobby-dazzling Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe – only signing Jordan Ibe for £15 million has been able to do that.
“You can’t expect seven goals in any game nowadays but they happen, I expect us to be much more concentrated and much more solid than we were in that game.”
– Super Slav
Head to Head
There is only a 7 match history between the two teams. The first meeting was a 5th round cup tie in 1929 against the then Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic was followed by a 60 year wait for re-match against an AFC Bournemouth side managed by Harry Redknapp. Last season’s match at Upton Park was the first Hammer’s defeat in the series; the full record is shown below:
Rumours circulating on the internet suggest that every West Ham outfield player, with the exception of Mark Noble, is unavailable through injury for this game. Our usual inside Under The Hammers sources were too busy taking out the bins to either confirm or deny the reports which have, in any case, been made up in a poorly disguised attempt to get visitors to the site.
“The obvious threat is with Andy Carroll’s aerial ability and that is a threat we are going to have to try to counteract. “He is slightly different and is quite unique in this day and age. If you go back 10 to 15 years, there were a lot of similar type strikers in a similar mould and, in the Premier League, the majority of those players have gone.”
– Eddie Howe
Longer term injuries continue to plague Ayew, Cresswell, Lanzini, Sakho and Feghouli and none will be available for consideration today. Physio Room also shows Payet and Nordtvelt suffering from knocks but there is nothing on Kouyate who sat out the midweek match in Romania, again with an apparent knock. More speculative chatter, which to be honest would be no big surprise, is that Andy Carroll is broken again – once again proving that he is ‘unplayable’. I also came across comments by Slaven Bilic about not rushing Payet back to the action following his exertions at the Euros so maybe he is still a little tired, bless!
Former Hammer, Junior Stanislas, who has just signed a new 3 year deal with Bournemouth is absent from their squad (with a scary sounding inguinal hernia injury) but new signing Marc Wilson, formerly of Stoke City, may make a first start.
The Man in the Middle
Today’s potential short-sighted official is Craig Pawson from South Yorkshire. Pawson, who as luck would have it is a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, took charge of the two exciting home draws against Manchester City and Arsenal last term. You may remember it was Pawson who did the double dirty on Manuel Lanzini in the latter match by incorrectly disallowing a headed (what would have been opening) goal and then denying a blatant penalty following a foul challenge by Bellerin. Suffice to say that Craig owes us one.