Ever since they moved into the London Stadium, West Ham have threatened to become one of the major forces outside of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ – but so far, it has not happened.
They have a title-winning manager in Manuel Pellegrini and are not afraid to splash the cash, so the Hammers will know excuses are running out if they again fail to cement a position in the top half of the table at the very least.
West Ham Betting Specials
To win the league – 500/1
To win the FA Cup – 25/1
To win the EFL Cup – 25/1
To finish in the top six – 10/1
To finish in the top ten – 11/10
To stay up – 1/40
To be relegated – 12/1
Sebastien Haller to be top scorer – 33/1
Declan Rice to win PFA Player of the Season – 100/1
A strong end to the campaign masked what was pretty much a season of under-achievement – three excellent wins to finish off against Tottenham, Southampton and Watford lifted West Ham into the top half of the table.
What did not help was another of the transfer sagas that seem to beset the club from time to time. Arguably their best player, Marko Arnautovic, wanted to leave in January and was out of the team for a spell – but that has been resolved now as he has finally moved to China.
For Manuel Pellegrini, West Ham is a very different job to Manchester City where he won the Premier League title. With the London club, less is expected in terms of silverware, but he does have the chance to show his quality given that they are willing to spend.
Starting his second campaign at the helm, it would be no exaggeration to say that significant improvement is required – probably an eighth-place finish minimum – if the Chilean’s future with the Hammers is to be any more than short term.
The New Arrivals
West Ham have been crying out for a prolific goalscorer, especially with Marko Arnautovic now gone, and they are pinning their hopes on £45million French striker Sebastien Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt.
The other major signing has been £24million midfielder Pablo Fornals from Villarreal, while the club have also bolstered their goalkeeping ranks with back-ups to Lukasz Fabianski in the shape of veteran duo Roberto, from Espanyol, and David Martin.
West Ham United’s Sebastien Haller pictured during a pre-season friendly match (PA Images)
The Key Man
Quite simply, this has to be Sebastien Haller in his first season with the club considering the big money they have paid for him. It’s almost as if the club are putting all their eggs in one basket as they have offloaded Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Lucas Perez, while Javier Hernandez could yet leave too.
Haller had an excellent scoring record with his two previous clubs, Eintracht Frankfurt and Utrecht, and while this is arguably another step up from the Bundesliga, he is the right age at 25 and certainly has the physicality to more than cope in the Premier League.
Can the Hammers start to keep hold of their star players?
The obvious answer is that it depends on how well they do. If the club establish themselves in the top half of the table, the suitors may start queuing around the side of the London Stadium.
There are certainly players who potentially will attract attention. The likes of Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Issa Diop may well secretly view West Ham as a stepping stone to a bigger club.
Will the Haller signing inspire a change of style?
Haller is a different type of player to Marko Arnautovic, whom David Moyes converted from a winger to a striker during his time at the helm. Haller is much more of a typical No 9 who will wait for the chances to come his way and not be afraid of putting himself about in the box.
There are no shortage of players from whom the Hammers can provide the Frenchman with the service. They should have plenty of width in the team with the options of Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio.
Where will West Ham finish this season?
This would obviously be a step back from last season and it would put pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini, who cannot claim he has not had the money to sign the players he wants.
However, apart from a strong end to 2018-19, there has been no real sign in recent years that West Ham are about to launch a push to challenge the top six in the manner of a Leicester or Wolves, and they could really do with avoiding the injuries that have badly affected them too.
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West Ham Tips & Betting Specials 2019/2020
Will the new signings at the London Stadium help the Hammers kick-on this term? Get our West Ham United betting tips and the latest West Ham betting specials here.