West Ham: Payet to start; Bilic warns Antonio; Noble discusses new signings
There is a good feeling around West Ham, despite the club’s exit from the Europa League in August. It was feared that the positive atmosphere caused by the new stadium would begin to dissipate, but that hasn’t been the case. The club have since made two new signings in Alvaro Arbeloa and Simone Zaza, both of whom may feature this weekend. Although the best news is the return of Dimitri Payet who is in line to make his first start to the season according to Slaven Bilic.
“He hasn’t played for us, apart from as a substitute against Chelsea, but he played 45 minutes for France against Italy, and then 35 minutes against Belarus.”
“He’s going to definitely be in the squad. I’m expecting him to be fit and ready and, if he is, he is going to start the game.”
“We have missed him. You are going to miss that kind of player, it’s the same for every club.”
The Hammers are lucky to have the French international as he is a Champions League calibre player. Bilic has been right to build the team around the former Marseille midfielder, but it creates problems when he is missing. The side have struggled during the opening three matches and lack the dynamism that they had in the final third last season. They will be at their best when Payet is in the team and his return could mark the start of their season.
The Croatian manager went on fire a warning at Michail Antonio, who is on a high after his call-up to the full England side. The winger has had a remarkable rise over the last 12 months and is now seen as one of the best wise players in the Premier League. He offers a different threat as he dominates in the air and has the power to bully full backs. Bilic has told him to stay grounded following his international breakthrough.
“The couple of goals he scored [this season] helped and definitely he deserves it. He’s a very confident lad, and all he has to do now is not to change, not to change the way he plays, the way he trains, everything, and we have to help him with that.”
The former Nottingham Forest winger now has his foot in the door, but he needs to capitalise on that and work even harder to earn his first cap. He didn’t manage to get on against Slovakia, but the experience will have whetted his appetite for more. In order to receive further recognition, he needs to perform consistently for West Ham and his manager’s warning is a reminder of that.
Finally, Mark Noble has praised the club’s late transfer business and believes the Hammers are set for another good season. He has been an ever-present at the club for years and is now the club captain, due to his loyalty and performances on the pitch.
“Adding Simone Zaza to the squad as well as our other signings was great business by the Club though sometimes you only know how good your signings are going to be by playing games and putting points on the board.
“Alvaro Arbeloa is a great signing for us as well and he trains like he would have done when he was 21, I’ve noticed that in the last couple of days.
“You don’t play for Real Madrid for that long if you don’t for one have quality or if you don’t have a good attitude. He’s going to be a great acquisition to the team.”
This summer has been an exciting one for the club and Noble’s comments suggest that the players are buying into the changes being made. He knows that as captain, it is his job to help new players settle into the squad and when discussing Zaza, he delivers a warning that he must play well before being considered a good acquisition.
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