Michail Antonio

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Premier League Preview: Aston Villa v. West Ham

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  • West Ham 9th in PL heading into Matchweek 5
  • Aston Villa, 18th in the standings, look to climb out of relegation zone

There was an international break in between to blow off some steam, but Aston Villa, sitting in the relegation zone, remain set on better days following a controversial ending to their last league game against Crystal Palace. For a team whose only win of the season has come at home, it couldn’t get much better than hosting West Ham at Villa Park on a Monday night (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Dean Smith and Co. aren’t necessarily playing bad, if anything their attack-oriented brand of play is as captivating as they get. The lack of finishing, in-game concentration and poor officiating (like against Palace), however, have not done Villa well. That said, their 2-0 victory against Everton weeks back is a testament to what they can really do on a positive night. With revenge on their mind, that can be the case against the Irons.

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On the other side, after a detrimental 5-0 loss to Manchester City to start the season, West Ham have found their groove under a revamped attack. Bundesliga import, Sebastien Haller, has scored three goals in the last two games, which resulted in victories for West Ham. Currently ninth in the table with seven points, with a win at Villa Park, Manuel Pellegrini‘s side can creep right behind the defending champions. It’s a complete 180-degree turn for West Ham, and they know they need to take advantage of the situation.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Winston Reid (knee), Michail Antonio (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE – None

Leicester: OUT – Jonathan Kodjia (head); QUESTIONABLE – James Chester (thigh), Matt Targett (thigh); SUSPENDED – Trézéguet (one match)


Projected lineups

Aston Villa: Heaton – Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor – McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Grealish – Jota, Wesley, El-Ghazi

West Ham: Fabianski – Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku – Rice, Noble, Felipe Anderson, Lanzini, Yarmolenko – Haller


What they’re saying

Manuel Pelegrini, on playing Aston Villa: “We need to beat teams like Aston Villa, because last season there were a lot of teams around us that we lost to. Now we will see what happens this season. Villa is a difficult team. Their stadium is very important for them, but we go there as we do in all the other games – to try to win. Villa have had some different results, bought a lot of good players and play an attacking style. I think that they are doing well, they must adapt to the Premier League still, but they have a very good team and a manager in Dean Smith who wants to play in an attacking way.”

Dean Smith, on his player’s urgency to play and perform well: “They’re itching for that next game. There’s a burning desire from them to right the wrongs. I can sense that.The international break has given us an opportunity. For instance, we’ve been able to work a lot on our breakthrough opportunities as all of our forward players have been here.”


Prediction

Both teams don’t need extra motivation heading into Monday. It’s simply a matter of who wants the three points more. Obviously, given their position on the table, Villa could benefit more from a win than West Ham. Couple that with Villa playing in front of their vociferous and passionate crowd, and that might be the secret ingredient for the home side to squeeze out a win against what will be a challenging bout against Pellegrini’s side. Aston Villa, 2-1.

West Ham issue update on Javier Hernandez’s future

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Mexico star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez could be leaving West Ham United in the final days of the European transfer window.

Hernandez, 31, was left out of the Hammers’ 18-man squad for their 2-0 win against Norwich City on Saturday and he’s been linked with a $9.7 million transfer to Sevilla in La Liga.

Various reports suggest that he has handed in a transfer request to force through the move ahead of the transfer window shutting in the other European leagues on Monday, Sept. 2.

Speaking to reporters after the game, West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini said Chicharito was injured and admitted he could leave in the next few days.

“Javier was not in the squad because he is coming back from an injury,” Hernandez said. “In 48 hours more the window will be closed. If he stays he will be an important player for us.”

Hernandez scored on his only start this season for the Hammers, but with Sebastian Haller grabbing three Premier League goals and his style of play better suited for West Ham, the writing is on the wall for Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer.

If he stays at West Ham he will be a bit-part player this season, and at Sevilla he would play regularly and also feature in the Europa League.

He’s scored 16 goals over the past two and a bit seasons at West Ham, but has failed to nail down a regular starting spot and after his blistering spell at Bayer Leverkusen his return to England hasn’t gone as expected.

The Hammers have Haller, Albian Ajeti, Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini as attacking options, so if Hernandez leaves they will be just fine.

This move will work out well for everyone.

Man City skates by West Ham in Premier League Asia Trophy

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Manchester City’s youth squad did the first-half job, which meant the heavy artillery coming off the bench was that much scarier. Man City came from behind to lead at halftime, and Raheem Sterling scored twice in the second half and the defending Premier League champions were no match for West Ham in a 4-1 victory in the semifinals of the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing.

Pep Guardiola started a mostly second-choice lineup from the opening whistle, with David Silva and Aymeric Laporte the only true first-teamers in the squad. Claudio Bravo manned the net to begin, with new arrival Rodri also among the starters. West Ham’s lineup, meanwhile, was a strong one with Felipe Anderson, Mark Noble, Angelo Ogbonna, Jack Wilshere, Michail Antonio, and Manuel Lanzini all among a first-choice starting lineup.

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West Ham took the lead 25 minutes in through Noble who delivered from the penalty spot, but not without help from Felipe who was the star of the first half for the Hammers and won the penalty after sending Manchester City defender Angelino to the ground.

The lead didn’t last long as David Silva leveled things up in the 33rd minute, a wonderful start to his final season at Manchester City. He received a fabulous delivery from 18-year-old Spanish youth international Adrian Bernabe who rifled one to the far post where Silva was waiting, and the 33-year-old chested it down before unpacking a low finish from a tight angle.

City would go in front three minutes later as 20-year-old Man City youth product Lukas Nmecha won a soft penalty on a foul by Ogbonna, and the youngster took it himself and buried the spot-kick for the lead.

Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane all came on at halftime for the defending Premier League champions, while West Ham brought on the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Javier Hernandez, and Andriy Yarmolenko.

The changes for Manchester City overwhelmed West Ham, with Sane picking up a loose ball near the halfway line and feeding a beautiful pass through the back line to Sterling clean on goal who put City 3-1 up on the hour mark. That saw John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko all come in off the bench for Pep Guardiola and into the fray.

The big three did it again in the 72nd minute as de Bruyne picked Carlos Sanchez’s pocket in the attacking third and fed Sane on the left. He sent it back to de Bruyne who layed it off for Sterling’s second goal of the match.

In squad notes, a pair of England youth internationals went the distance for Man City as Ian Poveda-Ocampo and Taylor Harwood-Bellis were the only two to complete the full 90 minutes. Notable for West Ham, Winston Reid came off the bench for the final 19 minutes, his first game action in over 16 months.

Transfer rumor roundup: Marcelo to Arsenal; Gomez to West Ham

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Marcelo’s hugely successful time at Real Madrid looks to be coming to an end after they signed Ferland Mendy from Lyon this summer, and plenty of Europe’s top clubs are lining up to sign him.

According to a report from Sport in Spain, Marcelo has told Real he wants to move on as Mendy, 24, has arrived for $55 million and is expected to become Zinedine Zidane’s new first-choice left back.

The report states that Arsenal have joined the likes of PSG, AC Milan and Juventus who are interested in signing the Brazilian full back who was left out of the Selecao’s squad for the Copa America this summer.

Marcelo, 31, has won four UEFA Champions League titles during his 13-year stay at Real and his marauding runs down the left have become a center piece of their play over the last decade.

Do Arsenal need a new left back? It is expected to be confirmed that veteran Spanish defender Nacho Monreal will sign a new one-year deal with the Gunners, but Unai Emery doesn’t have many left back options aside from that with Sead Kolasinac inconsistent last season.

With Celtic digging their heels in and demanding upwards of $30 million for left back Kieran Tierney, maybe Marcelo could be bought for a cheaper price and his experience may help this Arsenal defense.


West Ham have chased Celta Vigo’s Maxi Gomez for the last six months and after the Hammers failed to sign the Urugugyan striker in January, it looked like they were about to miss out on him again.

But then came a dramatic twist…

Our partners at Sky Sports are reporting that Celta Vigo had agreed a deal with Valencia for the transfer of Gomez, as the La Liga strugglers would receive $20 million and three Valencia players (including former Celta star Santi Mina) in part-exchange for Gomez moving to the Mestalla.

However, per the report, the Valencia players were in the middle of their medical at Celta Vigo’s training ground on Friday but it was then halted as Gomez made a U-turn and decided he now wants to sign for West Ham instead of heading to Valencia to play in the UEFA Champions League.

Gomez, 22, scored 13 goals last season and has 30 La Liga goals in 69 appearances since joining Celta from Defensor Sporting in 2017. West Ham would have to pay Celta Vigo his release clause of $56 million to pip Valencia to Gomez’s signature, and that would be a club-record fee.

With the Hammers selling Lucas Perez, releasing Andy Carroll, reportedly ready to let Javier Hernandez leave and also agreeing a deal to sell wantaway forward Marko Arnautovic to Shanghai SIPG for $28 million, all of a sudden they desperately need to sign a new striker.

Gomez is strong, quick and his hold-up play would link up very nicely with the likes of Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio in support of him. Signing a young, hungry striker who has given up the chance to play in the UCL may be a perfect fit at a perfect time for Manuel Pellegrini‘s men as they aim to push for European qualification this season.

West Ham 4-1 Watford: Irons smash Watford to finish season in style (video)

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  • Noble scores twice
  • West Ham finish with 52 points
  • Holebas red card in 48th minute
  • Watford suffer major loss before cup final

On the same day his former club won its second-straight title, Manuel Pellegrini had himself a great end of the season as well. West Ham routed ten-man Watford, 4-1, at Vicarage Road, finishing the season with 52 points and securely in mid-table in the Premier League standings. It was West Ham’s third consecutive win to finish the season, following victories over Tottenham and Southampton.

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West Ham captain Mark Noble scored twice while Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini each added one of their own in the road victory. Meanwhile, Gerard Deolufeo scored the lone goal for Watford, though he had to be substituted midway through the second half on suspicion of injury. It was a rough end of the season for Watford, which now prepares for the FA Cup final a week from today.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

West Ham was in the ascendancy early in the first half, and it showed as the Irons got on the board first. Combining with Michail Antonio, Noble passed through the heart of midfield before running at Watford’s defense in the 15th minute. Noble then cut back to his left foot and slotted a strike home, past Ben Foster to put West Ham up 1-0.

Antonio again played a role in his side’s second goal, as he battled with Watford’s Craig Cathcart and Kiko before squirming free. Despite being off balance, Antonio’s strike clattered off the bar. Luckily for West Ham, it went right into the path of the wide-open Lanzini, who headed into an open net.

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Javi Gracia‘s halftime team talk must have worked because Watford came out with more intensity and fight in the second half. The hosts used a bit of luck as well to cut the lead in half and for the moment, get back into the game.

A poor back pass from Pablo Zabaleta, perhaps with some of his mind on how his former Manchester City teammates were doing, put Fabian Balbuena and Lukasz Fabianski in no-mans land. Deulofeu, who had a quiet first half, ran down the ball, poked it past Fabianski and scored to make it 2-1 just 20 seconds into the second half.

However, Watford’s hopes to secure a point took a big hit two minutes later. With Antonio through on goal, Jose Holebas pulled him down just outside the box, leading to a straight red card for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

West Ham poured it on as the second half went on, with Jack Wilshere seeing minutes in the second half and Noble and Arnautovic scoring to make it a 4-1 scoreline.