West Ham United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
K/O: 15.00 hours
Venue: London Stadium
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
A currently pointless West Ham United side are the first London club to welcome Wolves to the capital this season; with Nuno Santo’s side visiting an unsettled London Stadium as they look to build on their stalemate with the Premier League champions last week, with their first win.
With a challenging start to their Premier League campaign, the Stratford based club have three loses out of three which include two tough away games against Liverpool and Arsenal where seven goals were shipped in total. West Ham’s influx of summer signings haven’t risen to their potential yet but team cohesion has slowly grown with each match. Regardless, a home victory against Wolves which would have been expected before the season has suddenly developed into a crucial must win fixture. Another loss will surely increase the hostility from the passionate Hammer’s fans and increment the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini.
Wolves on the other hand have the chance to win their first away Premier League fixture of the campaign after an arguably unmerited away loss to Leicester two weeks ago. Although they have excited and shown some great attacking quality, the Midlands club have failed in the defensive department to date and are yet to pick up a clean sheet or even three points, despite facing ten men in two consecutive matches. Another point will show Wolves can match decent opposition in the league but it’s important to pick up a win early to ensure the players confidence and ability isn’t questioned. Their draw against Man City and success of limiting them to one goal will surely fire them to go for the win against an unsettled West Ham side.
It’s an important match for Manuel Pellegrini who recruited 10 new faces during the summer transfer window, adding to the already high expectations of the home fans. However, anguish over team selection against Arsenal when starting three wingers in midfield could highlight that the manager still doesn’t know his best eleven. A win for the Chilean could clear the doubt currently shadowing the optimism for their future. However, the contrasting team chemistry in Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad will see them stick to the open and swift style of play which has produced many threatening chances in front of goal.
West Ham United
Hammers supporters will be anxious to see if frontman Marco Arnautovic will be fully fit and available after his knee injury. The Austrian is expected to make a return any day and will likely feature in this high stakes game. Mark Noble and Michail Antonio could be available for the clash on Saturday, after recovering from their respective back and ankle injuries. Aaron Cresswell performed throughout the entire midweek Carabao Cup victory against Wimbledon which could present another option for centre half. Lanzini, Carroll and Reid are all still unavailable for selection.
The Wanderers have a near fully fit squad and their impressive performances have already turned heads of bigger clubs. Portuguese youngster Ruben Neves has been in fine form since signing for them in July 2017 and opened his Premier League account with a stunning free kick against Everton on the opening day. Both Manchester clubs are set to go head to head for Neves’ signature despite his agent saying he is not for sale. Having said this, with rumours of a 60 million price tag floating around it would be hard to turn down such a prestigious deal.
Wolves currently only have winger Ivan Cavaleiro side-lined who has been carrying a back injury since pre-season and is not expected to make a return until after the international break. Despite their midweek Carabao Cup win against Sheffield Wednesday they fielded their ‘second’ team and can expect their regular eleven to feature come Saturday afternoon.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
West Ham: Fabianski; Masuaku, Ballbuena, Diop, Fredericks; Wilshere, Sanchez, Antonio, Anderson, Snodgrass; Arnautovic
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio; R Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Ruben Neves, Jonny Castro; Helder Costa, Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota
Score Prediction: West Ham 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
West Ham performances are currently hard to predict, you don’t know whether they’re going to turn up for the whole match or just fancy a half. They threw away their lead against Bournemouth on their first home game of the season and while their team chemistry is growing with each game, it may not be enough to tame the attacking threat of Wolves. Wolves proved they can restrain strong opposition but their willingness to open the game to hunt for the victory could present opportunities to a powerful Arnautovic. Both teams are still searching for their first win but neither team will be holding back in this one.