West Ham vs Bournemouth: Match-preview and predicted line-ups
The first Premier League fixture at West Ham United’s new Olympic Stadium home has unsurpisingly been selected as the late 16:00 kick-off on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday line-up for Matchday II of the new season, and with both teams yet to get a point on the board after opening weekend defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively, it won’t just be the Hammers keen to get off the mark at the top tier’s latest venue. Though with the home crowd behind him and his team, the onus and indeed all the pressure will be on Slaven Bilic and his Irons to see off the Cherries and get a precious first three points on the board for the new campaign. Though Eddie Howe and his Bournemouth side are no strangers to being party poopers at West Ham, having earned their first ever Premier League victory in East London last season edging out a 4-3 cracker at the Boleyn Ground in its farewell campaign.
West Ham United’s pre-season form has been somewhat shaky, with only one win and two draws from their six pre-season games which included shock 3-0 defeats to Seattle Sounders and Rubin Kazan. Unforgettably of course they were also forced to overturn a 2-1 away deficit at the Olympic Stadium in their Europa League qualifier against Slovenian outfit NK Domzale. They duly obliged with a 3-0 win in their first competitive bow in their new home, but after a first Premier League outing of the season ended with a 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge, in which they mustered a mere one shot on target- from which James Collins got their goal on the night- the Hammers will be looking to home comforts again as they aim to get off the mark in East London.
Bournemouth in comparison were unbeaten during their pre-season campaign, with three wins and three draws from six outings, including victories over Cardiff City and Ligue 1 club Angers as well as a creditable 1-1 draw with La Liga side Valencia. The first Premier League match of their season however ended in defeat as José Mourinho’s Manchester United took all the points at the Vitality Stadium in a 3-1 victory, the Red Devils going three-up before Adam Smith pulled back a late consolation goal. But with the Boleyn having been a happy hunting ground for the Cherries last season, Eddie Howe and his men will be optimistic of crashing the opening party in the Premier League for West Ham United and their new lair.
West Ham have been unfortunate with their injury woes during the summer, and with André Ayew the latest on the list of bodies on the treatment table, it is likely that Michail Antonio will be redeployed on the right flank of Slaven Bilic’s front three, meaning that we could see Sam Byram start at right-back. Arthur Masuaku did a sterling job at left-back at Chelsea and should keep his place, whilst an opportunist’s goal for James Collins means he should keep his place at the heart of the defence alongside Winston Reid. Dimitri Payet has enjoyed an extended period of rest after his Euro 2016 exploits with France, but Bilic will be wanting to go for broke for the points here, therefore we can expect a recall for Payet at the expense of Havard Nordtveit to occupy the free role in the midfield three, flanked by Cheikhou Kouyaté and Mark Noble, with Enner Valencia occupying the left flank in the forward three supporting Andy Carroll in the spearhead role.
Bournemouth will be looking to remain resolute but also provide an attacking threat. Therefore it is likely Eddie Howe will opt for the 4-3-3 formation used against Manchester United. Simon Francis will likely remain in the side despite his error which gifted Juan Mata the visitors’ opening goal last week, whilst Jordan Ibe, who showed flashes of his brilliance, can expect to be given the nod again, as can Lewis Cook, who played 81 minutes in his full debut after signing from Leeds during the summer. Andrew Surman can expect to keep his place on the right of the midfield three, with Max Gradel remaining on the bench to provide impact if needed. Joshua King and Callum Wilson can be expected to complete the attacking trio, whilst the back four is expected to remain the same.
West Ham United predicted XI AFC Bournemouth predicted XI
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The first thing to consider is that West Ham will be hoping get all their players through their Europa League qualifier with Astra Giurgiu on Thursday without injury. Regardless of that, the Hammers are of course still without Aaron Cresswell who is out with a knee injury sustained during pre-season, but the biggest blow will be that of losing record-signing André Ayew, who succumbed to a thigh injury during Monday night’s clash with Chelsea. It is too early to put an accurate timeframe on how long Ayew will be on the treatment table, but it is expected that the Ghanaian will be facing an extended spell on the sidelines. The Chelsea match came too early for Manuel Lanzini, who injured his knee on Olympic duty with Argentina, but he may be fit in time for their home curtain-raiser against Bournemouth and will likely miss Thursday’s Europa League tie. Gokhan Tore overcame a knee injury in training to be fit for the Chelsea fixture, and it is expected he will also be fully fit to join the squad against Bournemouth providing he makes it through Thursday’s action. Diafra Sakho is short of match fitness and missed the Chelsea match, and can be expected to sit out of their first home league game of the season too.
Bournemouth on the injury front are faring much better, with a fully fit squad to choose from bar Tyrone Mings- who is continuing his recovery from a torn knee ligament sustained at the beginning of last season- and forward Tokelo Rantie, who has been on the sidelines since March. New signing from Stoke City, defender Marc Wilson, is the only other figure out of contention, who continues his rehabilitation at Bournemouth from a medial collateral ligament injury which he sustained back in January whilst playing for Stoke.
West Ham United in their first home game of the season, in their new stadium, will be expected to take all the points in this one, though the Hammers significatly lacked firepower at Stamford Bridge and were stifled against Chelsea, so Bilic may well need to make changes to his side to really rattle Bournemouth- potentially shifting Antonio back to his more preferred wing position and recalling Dimitri Payet, for as last season’s encounter showed, you can take nothing for granted against the Cherries.
It could be argued however that the unpredictability of being new boys to the Premier League worked heavily in Bournemouth’s favour last time out, and they of course are missing their live-wire Matt Ritchie who made a huge difference at Upton Park last season after losing him to Newcastle United during the summer. With that in mind, and a raucous crowd expected at the Olympic Stadium’s Premier League bow, the intimidating atmosphere plus lessons learnt for Bilic may just give the home side the edge, but they won’t have it all their own way and Bournemouth will push them in an attempt to crash the party. It’ll be an exciting one with both sides going for it at the new venue, and with the Hammers at home and determined to react to Monday’s loss, we’re going for a 3-2 West Ham win.