Premier League 2015-16 season preview: West Ham United

2 Comments

West Ham is a club that has survived plenty of turmoil to go along with some fireworks and some more unsettling moments. The departure of Sam Allardyce signals a new era, and with the Hammers ready to move into the Olympic Stadium next season, there is a buzz around the team.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

Spending under the radar of other clubs above them in the table, West Ham made some incredibly shrewd signings this summer, and their new manager is highly spoken for.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club ]

Already under way in the Europa League, the Hammers have an advantage of having meaningful matches under their belt as the league season begins.

Best Possible XI: 

—Adrian—

–Cresswell–Tomkins–Ogbonna–O’Brien–

–Jarvis–Kouyate–Noble–

—Payet—

–Valencia–Zarate–

Transfers In: Dimitri Payet ($16.5 million, Olympique Marseille), Angelo Ogbonna ($12.1 million, Juventus), Pedro Obiang ($6.6 million, Sampdoria), Darren Randolph, (Free, Birmingham City), Manuel Lanzini (Loan, Al-Jazira).

Transfers Out: Stewart Downing ($8.7 million, Middlesbrough), Jussi Jaaskelainen (Released, Unattached), Guy Demel (Released, Unattached).

Star Player: Dimitri Payet

Bringing the 28-year-old Frenchman over from Ligue 1 after a stellar season was a massive coup – and didn’t go down well with his old club. Nevertheless, Payet is ready to bring an attacking flair to a club starving for some creativity. With Andy Carroll injured to start the season, much of the burden will be on Payet to bring the best out of the strikers he has to work with.

Payet will have less space to operate with this season than he did in France, but he should be a welcomed addition for fans clamoring for a more electric product than the Sam Allardyce days bore. He’s already played in a Europa League match for his new club and logged an assist just 23 minutes in, so the outlook is promising.

Last Season: 12th in the Premier League – Last season, West Ham looked promising at times, but conceded 13 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches, leaving many fans yearning for more. The team especially struggled down the stretch causing Big Sam, whose West Ham tenure started with a bang and ended with a thud, to leave via mutual consent.

Coach’s Corner: Slaven Bilic was brought in to usher the club away from the Sam Allardyce era, and he’s had a chance to learn his squad via some early Europa League qualifiers. He has some experience against Premier League clubs, having beaten both Tottenham and Liverpool last season in European play.

PST Predicts: This year the team has a deep back line and an exciting attacking crew led by Payet. The club’s weakness early on is a lack of continuity in defense, and one of Bilic’s first tasks will be to figure out who between Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Collins, and Burke represents the best central partnership. If he can figure that out, things seem to have set up quite nicely in the final season at Upton Park, and a top-half finish could be the result. However, squad health will be a major factor, and the depth isn’t spectacular to cover for any poorly placed injuries.

PSG wins French league after 2nd-place Lille fails to win

AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French league title without kicking a ball as second-place Lille could only draw 0-0 at Toulouse on Sunday.

Lille had to win to have any chance of catching PSG, but PSG is now 16 points ahead of its only rival with five matches left after this weekend.

After failing to clinch the title in the past three matches, drawing one and losing two, PSG can celebrate the eighth title in its history ahead of its home game against Monaco later Sunday.

It is PSG’s sixth title in the last seven seasons, with only Monaco in 2017 breaking PSG’s dominance.

Although the title was long expected from a side scoring 92 goals in 32 games so far, it took longer than it should have.

PSG could have won it three games ago, but drew 2-2 at home to Strasbourg when a win would have clinched it.

Then PSG needed a draw at Lille last Sunday, only to lose 5-1 in the club’s heaviest defeat since Qatari investors QSI took charge of the club in June 2011.

A win away to Nantes would have sufficed, too, on Wednesday night only for PSG to lose 3-2 .

The 10 goals conceded in those three games made for PSG’s worst defensive record during a three-game spell since 1985.

Also Sunday, striker Kalifa Coulibaly scored twice as 13th-place Nantes beat 17th-place Amiens 3-2.

Later, Saint-Etienne needed a draw at Reims to move above Marseille and into fourth place.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Klopp hails Liverpool mettle in face of “proper banana skin”

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp knows that more than a few clubs would’ve slipped up Sunday at Cardiff City, given the hosts’ desperation and the visitors’ midweek triumph, but his Reds stood up to the test.

[ RECAP: Cardiff 0-2 Liverpool ]

Liverpool beat Cardiff City 2-0, scoring a pair of second half goals to go back atop the Premier League before Manchester City plays its final match-in-hand of the season in a midweek Manchester Derby.

“It was prepared to be a proper banana skin and we knew that, the boys were unbelievable,” Klopp said after his team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.

He insists that he’s not feeling pressure as Liverpool may need to win every one of its matches and get help to capture its first Premier League crown.

“I only know about me and I didn’t feel it (the pressure) we have to do it like we do it. We cannot change it. The boys try really with all they have, we only speak about the things we have to do. Their attitude is outstanding and it’s a tough season but a very positive one as well.”

Liverpool has two banana skins left, a visit from Huddersfield and trip to Newcastle, closing out the league slate with Wolves at Anfield.

Benteke leads Palace surprise at Arsenal (video)

Leave a comment
  • Benteke scores first goal since April 28, 2018
  • Zaha nabs ninth of season
  • Ozil goal forges brief deadlock

Christian Benteke scored a goal and added an assist as Crystal Palace handed much-changed Arsenal a 3-2 set back at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Wilfried Zaha and James McArthur also scored for the Eagles, while Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang posted Arsenal’s goals.

The win boosts Palace into 12th with 42 points, while Arsenal remains fourth with 66.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roy Hodgson‘s men took a surprising early lead through a strangely surprising source, given that Benteke was once a prolific and danger scorer.

With room to operate, the Belgian turned a header past Bernd Leno to put the Eagles on top.

Palace was fortunate not to concede a penalty through an Aaron Wan-Bissaka handball in the box, and Cheikhou Kouyate saw two bids to beat Leno saved by the keeper.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Arsenal needed less than two second half minutes to equalize, with Iwobi finding Lacazette with a deft outside-of-the-boot pass. The Frenchman slid Ozil through on goal, and Ozil blasted it near side for a 1-1 score line.

Palace restored its lead thanks to a Benteke flick toward Zaha, with the Ivorian going around Shkrodan Mustafi before beating Leno.

And then it was 3-1, a 69th minute corner kick from Luka Milivojevic finding the back of the goal when James McArthur redirected a header into the goal.

Aubameyang needed a fortunate bounce to line up his shot, but deserved every bit of his 77th minute goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Liverpool handles its business in Wales (video)

David Davies/PA via AP
1 Comment
  • Wiljnaldum scores opener off corner
  • Milner converts Salah-won penalty
  • Cardiff cannot finish chances

Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner scored to put Liverpool back atop the Premier League following a 2-0 defeat of Cardiff City on Sunday.

Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds had their chances but simply lacked quality in finish. They remain three points back of Brighton and Hove Albion in the race to avoid relegation.

Liverpool is a point ahead of Man City before Wednesday’s Manchester Derby at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino broke the Cardiff back line, but Neil Etheridge closed down to help force the Brazilian to fire over the goal.

It was mostly Liverpool’s game, but Oumar Niasse need nearly luck into an in-tight finish after Victor Camarasa flubbed a shot into his path. Alisson Becker tipped it over the bar.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wijnaldum put the Reds on top about 12 minutes into the second half when he wrapped his right foot around a bounding set piece to send it flying past Etheridge.

Henderson’s would-be goal was blazed over the goal in the 61st minute. It wasn’t quite a sitter, but there was certainly some beckoning goal.

Cardiff’s Sean Morrison missed his second significant chance of the match off a 64th minute corner kick.

Roger East awarded a penalty kick to Liverpool when Morrison manhandled Mohamed Salah in the box. Milner rarely misses from the spot.

Etheridge made a tremendous save on Salah in the 90th.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]