This weekend we welcome back the Premier League! At last!
This will be Antonio Conte’s first league game as Chelsea boss and will be looking to improve on their comical season last year. Chelsea have been very impressive in pre-season where Diego Costa and Eden Hazard have seemed to recapture their abilities and putt in solid performances.
The Blues have also been very active in the transfer market by acquiring Kante and long term West Ham target Batshuayi. With Curtado staying and Willian signing a new 4 year deal, it looks like they mean serious business this season.
West Ham have had a very good pre-season in terms of fitness, with the exception of Cresswell, and the team look motivated in training. With only four players coming back from the Euros, all of which reached the knockout stages, and Payet being very unlucky in the final against a very stubborn but successful Portuguese side, the hammers squad look fitter than ever under an intense programme by Bilic and his staff.
The club have again been very busy, signing no less than 10 players this summer, the biggest of them all being £20.5m arrival of Andre Ayew from Swansea. Ayew signed a week before the big kick off – he has had a fantastic pre-season with his ex club scoring goals and assisting on a regular basis.
With Fletcher, Feghouli and Nordtviet signing on free transfers, loan additions of Tore and Calerri, and signing Masauku for £6m from Olympiacos to replace Cresswell, the squad looks very good and very deep, something West Ham have lacked for years.
West Ham have again been the earliest Premier League team back in pre-season as Europa League qualification rounds had to be played. A competitive loss away and a competitive win at home have already gotten rid of the cobwebs and already looked settled in the tactics.
Monday night looks like a tasty fixture between the two London clubs, and fireworks will spark with an intense atmosphere. I predict a 2-2 draw once again, with an inform & fitter than ever Andy Carroll grabbing both goals.
But, I would not rule out a win for the Hammers as I see Conte being very defensive to make sure he doesn’t lose his first game at home. West Ham have very effective counter attacking tactics and world class set-piece plays which will trouble a flap-happy Courtois.
Come on you Irons!