Relegation candidates – West Ham should iron out problems
After a dismal season which saw West Ham finish one place above the relegation zone and record just one away win, it’s little surprise that the Upton Park side are just 5/1 to drop down to the Championship this season.
However, with new owners and a new manager hope is returning to the east of London, with the prospect of a top ten finish for 2010/11 not sounding as ridiculous as it would have done six months ago.
Robert Green will need to recover from a horror World Cup if West Ham are to improve on a record of 66 league goals conceded. He seemed assured on his return in a friendly against MK Dons and it’s probable he possesses the fortitude required to get back to the form that won him the England gloves in the first place.
West Ham have never finished a Premier League season with a positive goal difference and if they are to break into the top six, an unlikely 16/1 chance, that has to change.
New boss Avram Grant managed to organise a dilapidated Portsmouth side into a resolute enough unit, which despite their lack of numbers conceded the same amount of goals as West Ham last term.
The Israeli can get the best out of Matthew Upson, who showed he is one of England’s best defenders in South Africa, and promising Portuguese centre-back Manuel Da Costa.
Scott Parker was monumental for the Hammers last year and the owners rejected a £7million offer from Tottenham in recognition. He needs to stay if West Ham are to have any hope of beating Aston Villa on the opening day (4/1).
£4million signing Pablo Barrera is a talent, having featured for Mexico at the World Cup, but will need to be fully committed to the West Ham cause if he’s not to prove a luxury purchase.
On his day Carlton Cole is the perfect centre forward: powerful, pacey and possessing a ferocious shot. However, he can go missing in games when needed by the team.
Having scored 10 league goals last term, to add to the 10 he scored the previous year, Cole has a better than one in three goal average. Should he steer clear of injuries a bet on him to get the Golden Boot, at 50/1, wouldn’t be amiss.
Frederic Piquionne should provide decent back-up after finding his feet in England during the second half of the season at Portsmouth.
With Avram Grant at the helm, West Ham should avoid trouble. He took Portsmouth down, but that was a sinking ship. What should be remembered are his exploits in getting the south-coast side to the FA Cup final and Chelsea to their only Champions League final.