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Season preview: Pellegrini the man to meet West Ham’s ambition?

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West Ham United at a glance

Premier League titles: 0
FA Cups: 3 (1964, 1975, 1980)
League Cups: 0
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 (1965/66)

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They will challenge for the Top Six because… Pellegrini is simply a different class of manager to their recent bosses, and has a better grip on massaging bigger egos in a bigger squad. Marko Arnautovic is a tough mark up-top, and should be further freed by the addition of Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson. The full backs are good, especially Arthur Masuaku, and Lukasz Fabianski is an upgrade on the Joe Hart-Adrian combination.

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They’ll again stumble and find themselves in a relegation scrap… Last season’s demons hit the club on and off the pitch, and fan anger is just a moment away. Arnautovic is a combustible character, and the club is an injury or two away from counting on Mark Noble.


Transfers in: Felipe Anderson ($43 million, Lazio), Issa Diop ($29 million, Toulouse), Andriy Yarmolenko ($23 million, Borussia Dortmund), Lukasz Fabianski ($9 million, Swansea City), Fabian Balbuena ($5 million, Corinthians), Ryan Fredericks (free, Fulham), Jack Wilshere (free, Arsenal).

Transfers outCheikhou Kouyate ($12 million, Crystal Palace), Reece Burke ($2.5 million, Hull City), James Collins (free agent), Patrice Evra (free agent)


Best possible XI

—– Fabianski —–

—- Fredericks — Diop —  Ogbonna — Masuaku —- 

—- Rice — Wilshere — Obiang—-

—- Anderson —- Arnautovic —- Yarmolenko


Ranking their offseason: 7/10 – Anderson missed significant time last season but was a big part of Lazio’s strong second half to the season. Yarmolenko has been productive in multiple top leagues, and Jack Wilshere on a free is a big deal. If Issa Diop can stand firm in his first Premier League season, this figure might be an 8/10 or better.


Star player: Marko Arnautovic –  Yes, the striker often gets top billing in these preview pieces, but it’s hard to debate another player as West Ham’s star when this Austria menace is on his game. The 29-year-old matched his career-best output of 11 goals and six assists.

Coaches’ CornerManuel Pellegrini — The Premier League winner returns to England, this time in London. He’s been successful in both league and Cup play, which could bode well for West Ham’s hopes of taking a step into Europe via an alternative route.


PST Predicts: Comfortably midtable, but just below the radar of making a threat to the Top Six.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man United on verge of signing Shakhtar’s Fred

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Jose Mourinho is nearing a boost to his attacking midfield, with Brazilian international Fred reportedly on the verge of joining Manchester United.

The 25-year-old midfielder has starred for Shakhtar Donetsk the past five seasons, cementing his place as a starter for the Ukrainian side and impressing in UEFA Champions League matches. Fred follows the likes of Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Chelsea’s Willian as using Shakhtar as a mid-way point between Brazil and the Premier League.

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According to multiple reports in England, Manchester United is in advanced negotiations to sign Fred for a reported transfer fee of nearly $59 million. The singularly-named Fred would be the third-famous Fred to play for Man United, following Freddie Goodwin, who played for the Red Devils from 1954-60 and Fred Erentz, who played from 1892-1902.

Although he is not physically big, Fred could be an Eden Hazard-type player, a tricky midfielder who puts defenders on their heels as he skates past them with the ball.

Here are more transfer rumors and notes from around the Premier League:

(more…)

West Ham 1-4 Man City: Champs on cruise control

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Raheem Sterling was a menace, bagging two assists as Manchester City crushed West Ham United 4-1 at the London Stadium on Sunday.

Fernandinho, Gabriel Jesus, and Leroy Sane scored for City, which also found its way to the scoreboard due to a Pablo Zabaleta own goal. City’s 102 goals are one shy of Chelsea’s Premier League record.

Aaron Cresswell scored for West Ham United, now just three points clear of the drop zone with a minus-24 goal difference becoming an increasing concern.

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Marko Arnautovic and Mark Noble issued a pair of hard fouls early, and Man City responded by almost going ahead through Ilkay Gundogan. The German couldn’t get enough on a cross into the 18, and it bounded through the box.

Sane opened the scoring in the 13th, with Patrice Evra‘s headed block attempt wrong-footing Adrian.

Ederson intervened to stop West Ham’s answer, with Manuel Lanzini‘s cross too far for Aaron Cresswell and punched clear.

An own goal off the boot of Declan Rice and rear end of Pablo Zabaletagave Man City its 100th Premier League goal of the season, and the Citizens had 63 minutes to score three more en route to the record.

That quickly became background noise with a scary head injury to Cheikhou Kouyate, who was lay stricken on the turf for some time. Kouyate went head-to-head with Aymeric Laporte in an accidental collision that the latter saw coming.

But hold on: moments after Marko Arnautovic had a goal pulled back for a foul, Cresswell zipped a gorgeous free kick past a flying Ederson for 2-1. 42′.

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City carved up the West Ham 18 for a third when Jesus cut to the penalty spot and passed behind Adrian.

The Irons could’ve been behind 4-1 when Cresswell cut down Raheem Sterling, but the foul went uncalled.

Fernandinho did make it four, starting and finishing a play with Man of the Match candidate Stirling to put City on the precipice of tying the PL record.

Reports: West Ham will sign Evra for remainder of season

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Patrice Evra on one side and Pablo Zabaleta on the other?

What are Nemanja Vidic and Martin Demichelis up to?

That theoretical back four won’t be getting together at the London Stadium for West Ham United, but left back Evra could be joining right back Zabaleta with the Irons as soon as Wednesday.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson’s clever Bremen goal ]

Reports say Evra, who left Marseille earlier this season after kicking a fan in a disgraceful prematch incident, is set to join old boss David Moyes at West Ham for the rest of the season.

West Ham sits 12th, but is just three points out of 18th. Left-sided man Arthur Masuaku has been pretty darn good for the Irons, but was suspended for spitting at Nick Powell during FA Cup play. Aaron Cresswell played in his stead as the left wingback in a 3-5-2.

The 3-5-2 should provide Evra more comfort in building up his game, but will perhaps demand a bit more run-up to match fitness.

Like the move?

Pardew: West Brom’s Livermore “provoked” into entering stands

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Alan Pardew was at the defense of West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore after the England international went into the stands at West Ham on Tuesday.

Livermore was substituted by Pardew and looked set to return to the dugout when he reacted furiously in charging toward fans in the West Ham stands.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-1 West Brom ]

“Obviously you don’t want to see a player in the crowd,” said the Baggies boss.”There’s no way he’s going in the crowd – because I know him, he’s a great lad – unless he was provoked severely. That’s all I know. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Jake. I’ll speak to Jake and we’ll go from there.”

Without knowing what was said to Livermore, who has been through hardship including the loss of a baby, it’s difficult to see the player dodging discipline from the FA. Entering the stands is always treated very seriously, though West Ham has announced it will investigate the incident from its end.

Tim Howard was suspended three games for an altercation with a fan in MLS, while Patrice Evra was banned from all competitions (though he violently kicked a fan).

Livermore won’t likely face anything like that, but a fine or other seems likely.