The Premier League Champions visit the London Stadium for the season opener. Is this the ideal time for West Ham to entertain Manchester City?

It seems like only yesterday when season 2021-22 drew to a close. It has barely rained since then! Of course being a year divisible by two we would normally expect a major competition in the summer break, and this time around it would have been the World Cup. But that is not the case as due to temperatures in Qatar the 2022 tournament is being played in the weeks leading up to Christmas which will have a big impact on the 2022-23 season. We’ll get the mid-season break that so many campaign for but with a difference in that many of the leading players will not be resting but exerting themselves in the heat of the Middle East.

We did have a tournament to watch though and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely, especially the climax last Sunday. Euro 2022 for women filled our football gap and the Lionesses did us proud with their excellent victory over the Germans. It remains to be seen whether the legacy of the competition will be a higher profile for the women’s game at the top level, although I’m sure it will lead to greater participation of girls at junior levels.

Anyway, it’s back to the Premier League with West Ham entertaining the champions Manchester City in the opening fixture which will be televised this Sunday, 4.30 pm kick off. What with TV plus our involvement in the Europa Conference League on Thursdays, it will be some time before we get to see a Saturday 3pm kick off at the London Stadium. Is the first game of the season the best time to be playing the team that are odds-on favourites to finish on top again? Perhaps it is. They took a while to get into their stride last season, and we gave them a good game in the 2-2 draw towards the end. I’ll begin this season’s match predictions by going for another 2-2 this time.

It has been the usual summer in respect of speculation regarding incoming (and outgoing) players at the club, and at the time of writing I remain to be convinced that the squad will be anything other than paper thin once again. But I fervently hope to be proved wrong. Nayef Aguerd seems to be a good acquisition but we know what happened in the friendly at Rangers, and following his operation it seems unlikely we’ll be seeing him for a while, possibly not until after the mid-season World Cup?

Gianluca Scamacca too is an international footballer and we’ve been crying out for ages for a top-class number 9 (who I understand will be wearing number 7). I am hopeful that he will turn out to be one of our better buys. Some of our forward purchases in the past decade (or even longer) have not really been up to scratch have they?  The last high profile Italian international centre forward (Zaza) joined us on loan from Juventus at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, our first at the London Stadium. He played eight times and didn’t find the net once before he was shipped off to Valencia, and then ended up at Torino. In 145 games since leaving us he has scored 35 goals, around 1 in 4. I’m hoping that Scamacca has a much better strike rate than that.

Flynn Downes is an interesting one and comes highly regarded by those who have seen him performing at Championship Level. But can he do it in the Premier League? And will he get the chance? With our injury record then the answer to the second question is probably yes. Bowen made the step up to the top level from the Championship so let’s hope Downes can do the same. I reckon he’ll shine if given the opportunity, but it’s wait and see. Areola made his move permanent (like so many it seemed to take ages to get it ‘over the line’) but he was already here last season and was proven at top level. It can’t be long before he becomes the league custodian and Fabianski the Cup one can it?

At the time of writing that seems to be the total of incoming players, but will the squad be strong enough to challenge for the top six as well as have another good European and domestic cup campaign? We are famous for adding players as the new season gets underway and when the window is about to slam shut so there could be more, but as it stands we would still appear to be light. Perhaps some of the Academy players who have done so well at their level in recent times will make the breakthrough? It would be great if they do, but they need to be given the chance to prove themselves.

Traditionally before the season commences I predict the finishing positions next May. It would be great if we could improve on last season’s 7th, and with Chelsea and Manchester United in some form of transition perhaps we can, although it will be difficult without further top-class investment. I reckon both North London clubs will have good seasons although I hope I’m wrong with my prediction for third place! So here I go for 2022-23:

1. Manchester City, 2. Liverpool, 3. Tottenham, 4. Arsenal, 5. Chelsea, 6. Manchester United, 7. West Ham, 8. Newcastle, 9. Brighton, 10. Wolves, 11. Aston Villa, 12. Leicester, 13. Crystal Palace, 14. Everton, 15. Brentford, 16. Fulham, 17. Leeds, 18. Southampton, 19. Nottingham Forest, 20. Bournemouth

6 thoughts on “The Premier League Champions visit the London Stadium for the season opener. Is this the ideal time for West Ham to entertain Manchester City?”

    1. Cheers Paul – it seems unlikely that any of our new recruits will start or even be involved? 2-2 would be a great start. Of course all the players who start will be playing for their places with the newcomers (and I hope there will be more) waiting to come in.

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      1. as i see it, this season can have 5 usable subs from 9, so by utalising all 5 subs in every game, we will in effect be resting players by rotation, the problem is getting a squad that can replace our first team choice, even enabling us to try 2 up front at times, knowing full well we can then change that formation later, if its not working.
        for example, man city, sterling off foden on, etc i think the key to us doing well this season is to get a couple of players in with blingardesqe skills, that can go past players with ball at feet, as he proved last season, and it worked, to open up the leeds, newcastles and watford type teams that our passing game cannot seem to undoe, and is so frustrating to watch, i had a stroke whilst watching west ham last season, i hope they dont finish me off this year.

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  1. Enjoyed your season opener Richard. Hope you’re having a good summer. A European spot should be within reach again, and I’m perhaps more convinced by the growing strength of the squad, which I think could take us to a final this time. 2-2 sounds good!

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    1. Thanks John – hope you are well – we definitely need more depth to the squad don’t we? I wouldn’t mind both Sarr and Dennis from Watford but we’ll have to wait and see.
      I can see us playing 3-5-2 this season at times with Cresswell at the back on the left and both Antonio and our new signing playing together up front. Not against City though!
      Looking forward to Geoff’s comments.

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      1. There’s been a lot of talk about Diaz too. Cornet is an exciting addition. I thought we might go after Traore. I agree the Watford pair would be a great addition…But after the Aguerd injury, and with Oggy out, it looks like we’re after another defender…I reckon there’ll be 2 or 3 more to come…

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