West Ham Team Guide: Big Sam’s men set for mid-table obscurity

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Team Name: West Ham

Manager: Sam Allardyce

Last Season: 13th

Who they’ve signed so far: Enner Valencia (Pachuca, £12m), Cheikhou Kouyate (Anderlecht, £7m), Mauro Zarate (Velez Sarsfield, undisclosed), Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich, undisclosed), Diego Poyet (Charlton, undisclosed), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, loan)

Out the exit door: Joe Cole (Aston Villa, free), Matt Taylor (Burnley, free), Stephen Henderson (Charlton, free), Jack Collison (released), George McCartney (released), Callum Driver (released), Jordan Spence (released), George Moncur (Colchester, loan)

Key Man: Winston Reid

A rock at the heart of the West Ham defence, Reid has proved himself a popular acquisition, claiming the title of ‘Hammer of the Year’ in the 2012/13 season.

The New Zealand international has been linked with a move to Arsenal for the past year, but questions remain whether he would leave to probably play second fiddle.

Injury ruled him out for a large part of 2013/14, but he looks fit and raring to go this time round, and he will be key in making sure a second year of survival in the Premier League isn’t put into jeopardy.ReidSticker

Under the Radar: Elliot Lee

With injuries and uncertainty surrounding foreign arrivals around their frontline, Lee could make his breakthrough into the first team at Upton Park in the coming months.

The diminutive striker spent a short period on loan at Colchester last season, scoring once in four appearances in League One.

He’s featured in a number of pre-season games for West Ham, netting a hat-trick against Woking, and putting in a stellar cameo appearance from the bench against Sampdoria.

If Big Sam is willing to give his youngsters a chance this season, expect the son of former Hammers and Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee to be at the front of the queue.

Team Liability:  James Collins

Possibly a bit harsh on the man nicknamed ‘the Ginger Pele’ by some fans, as when using his head, Collins can be a valuable asset.

But when the Wales international finds the ball at his feet, things can turn ugly. A habit to either blast the ball as high and far as he can, or pick an opponent out with a pass (just 63% of his passes reached a team-mate last season) has becoming a worrying trend for the Boleyn Ground faithful.

His slow and sometimes cumbersome ways could easily cost the Irons more points than he gains in the coming campaign.

Our Verdict: Most West Ham fans will probably settle for a similar finishing position to last season, hovering in mid-table obscurity, considering the hand they have been dealt in relation to Andy Carroll.

Relegation looks unlikely, with a number of decent looking arrivals over the summer. Nevertheless, the likes of Enner Valencia, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Aaron Cresswell are unproven in the Premier League so will need to adapt well.

But if all things click, and Valencia continues his good scoring form in E13, then a push into the top half isn’t out of the realms of possibility.

Title odds: 5000/1

Best bet: To finish in the top 10 @ 2/1

All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.