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Anderson arrives: Can Pellegrini unlock West Ham’s potential?

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West Ham United has sealed another impressive deal, adding $48 million winger Felipe Anderson from Lazio.

It’s a club record deal from the Irons, whose ambitions have been short-circuited in recent seasons by stop-start play under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes.

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Now Manuel Pellegrini is in charge, and has made a series of purchases including Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko, Issa Diop, and Jack Wilshere amongst others.

Anderson was fantastic for Lazio last season, though he was part of a loaded attack with Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Malinkovic-Savic.

Now the challenge is gelling quickly inside a short window. As we’ve seen in the past with markedly changed mid-table sides — see: Everton’s 2017-18 season — hitting the ground running is key.

Players have been convinced of West Ham’s ambition. Here’s the latest, Anderson, from WHUFC.com:

“West Ham is a club with a lot of tradition, lots of great players have played here, like Bobby Moore, Carlos Tevez and Di Canio. They were great players and idols here, and I’m aiming big, who knows, maybe I could hit their heights and be a legend here too.”

But turning that into on-field success and in-room culture has been a challenge. The move to London Stadium didn’t help, and managerial instability has been anything but a boon to the Irons. There have been plenty of self-inflicted wounds, too.

West Ham’s lineup could be frightening, even in the face of injuries to Andy Carroll (surprise!) and Winston Reid. But managing egos new and old is a challenge, which is why the Pellegrini hire could be a masterstroke.

Consider this possible XI from Pellegrini, who largely operated his Manchester City with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 with two holding/defensive/deep-lying center midfielders (There have been rumors West Ham could sell Cheikhou Kouyate).

There are a lot of options for Pellegrini’s front four. Anderson and Yarmolenko both prefer right wing, while Arnautovic likes the left but has proven adept as a center forward if Pellegrini becomes the latest manager to eschew the idea of Javier Hernandez up top. Manuel Lanzini‘s injury does seem to put Wilshere in the No. 10 role.

Fabianski

Fredericks — Diop — Balbuena — Masuaku

Obiang — Kouyate

Anderson — Wilshere — Yarmolenko

Arnautovic

So the ingredients are there, with Aaron Cresswell, Pablo Zabaleta, and Jordan Hugill joining Chicharito in keeping training competitive.

But Pellegrini will have to navigate a culture that saw a seedy finish to the season, with protests and ugly incidents amongst supporters and players on the field in London.

And he does seem the man for the job. But if he can’t do it… well, stay tuned.

West Ham’s Carroll, Reid face three months out injured

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LONDON — West Ham pair Andy Carroll and Winston Reid have suffered setbacks in their recovery from injuries and face three more months out.

Former England striker Carroll and New Zealand defender Reid returned to London from a preseason training camp in Switzerland to undergo follow-up operations on injuries suffered last season.

“Andy played and scored in Sunday’s match (against FC Winterthur) but is still reporting some discomfort in his ankle and further scans have revealed that he requires some minor surgery to provide more strength and stability to the area,” Richard Collinge, head of the club’s medical department, said on the club website on Thursday.

“Winston has been suffering some swelling around the knee injury that he sustained at Swansea last season and he too is in need of explorative surgery to clean up the area.

“We have decided that this is the best course of action to ensure that both players have a chance of returning to full fitness as soon as possible.”

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said that in the absence of the senior pair, the club will look to add players to the five they have already signed in this offseason.

West Ham sign Andriy Yarmolenko

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West Ham’s impressive rebuild under Manuel Pellegrini continues.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko is the latest to join Pellegrini’s revolution at the London Stadium, with the striker arriving from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth $23.1 million and signing a four-year contract.

Yarmolenko, 28, has long been linked with a move to the Premier League and he arrives after just one season with Dortmund in the Bundesliga. He scored six times in 26 games in all competitions for the German giants in 2017/18 before heading to the Hammers.

He previously spent his entire career with Dynamo Kiev, scoring 137 goals in 341 games despite playing as a wide forward for most of his career. He also has 35 goals in 77 games for Ukraine.

Speaking about his move to east London, Yarmolenko had the following to say.

“Of course, I am very happy to sign for West Ham United. West Ham is a big club with good fans and I am happy to come to play in the Premier League,” Yarmolenko said. “The Premier League is the best league in the world and I know that an interesting project is being built here at West Ham. The team wants to achieve high things and I am excited for this challenge.”

Yarmolenko alongside Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnautovic and Andy Carroll certainly gives West Ham plenty of attacking options, even if Manuel Lanzini will miss a big chunk of the season through injury and Michail Antonio is rumored to be on his way out.

Pellegrini has already added Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks this summer to significantly strengthen West Ham’s squad ahead of his first season in charge. Arnautovic and Yarmolenko seem particularly well-suited to playing with each other, as both love to surge forward with powerful runs and can finish when given an opportunity.

This is what West Ham’s fans can expect to see from Yarmolenko, who loves to cut inside from either flank and can also be deployed centrally.

Jack Wilshere joins West Ham United

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Jack Wilshere has signed for West Ham United, the club he supported as a boy.

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Wilshere, 26, left Arsenal on July 1 after his contract expired and he failed to agree a new deal, and he’s now made the move across London to sign with the Hammers on a three-year deal.

The creative midfielder has been at Arsenal his entire career after graduating from their academy and making his pro debut at the age of 16, but he has been seriously hampered by injuries in recent seasons and lost his place in the England squad as a result of those struggles.

Speaking to West Ham about his move to the London Stadium, here’s what Wilshere had to say as he joins the club his father and brother support.

“It feels good, it feels special. Many people know that I’ve had a special bond with this club growing up,” Wilshere explained. “People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I’ve got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park. It feels good and of course my family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone’s buzzing.”

Wilshere went on to explain that Manuel Pellegrini becoming the new West Ham manager was a key part of his decision to join them, while the pull of playing at the London Stadium was another.

“The fans, of course – everyone knows how big West Ham’s fanbase is – and especially in this new Stadium,” Wilshere said. “Not many clubs could fill it week in, week out, and West Ham do. I want to be playing here in front of the Hammers, and my bond I’ve had with the Club over my childhood will make it even more special.”

Wilshere’s career now has the opportunity to get back on track as he will undoubtedly be West Ham’s go-to guy in central midfield. What that means for players such as Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate remains to be seen but Wilshere will play regularly, as long as he’s fit, and his class on the ball is undoubted.

Even last season he showed flashes of brilliance for Arsenal as he worked his way back to full-fitness and with a host of clubs lined up to sign him, Wilshere has chosen to remain in London and in the Premier League.

Entering the prime of his career, he now has the perfect chance to become a hero at West Ham and prove to Arsenal what they’re missing. With 34 England caps to his name, he will be aiming to get back into Gareth Southgate‘s squad but first and foremost he needs to stay fit.

If he does that and replicates his best form, West Ham have a great chance of challenging for a European spot this season.

‘Prototype’ Pickford reshaping opinions of English GKs

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SAMARA, Russia (AP) — It was just about the only thing Jordan Pickford got wrong all game.

“It was a daft injury by myself,” the England goalkeeper recounted. “I went to punch the (ground) and ended up punching my knee and hurt my thumb. It was a bit of anger. But I’m a man, not a mouse. I’m fine and I’ll live another day, won’t I?”

[ VIDEO: England fans celebrate World Cup win over Sweden at IKEA ]

Pickford left Samara Stadium on Saturday with a heavily bandaged left hand, a glass vase to commemorate a player-of-the-match performance in England’s World Cup quarterfinal win over Sweden, and with his new-found status as the pride of a nation.

The global reputation of English goalkeepers has taken a battering in recent years but Pickford is reshaping opinions with his standout performances in England’s surprising run to the World Cup semifinals in Russia.

Four days after being England’s penalty-shootout star against Colombia in the round of 16, the 24-year-old Pickford produced three brilliant, one-handed saves in a 2-0 win over Sweden to ensure his team ultimately enjoyed smooth progress to a last-four match against Croatia.

The only previous England goalkeepers to appear on such a stage were Gordon Banks — the World Cup winner from 1966 — and Peter Shilton, a veteran of 125 international caps who was 40 when he played in the 1990 World Cup semifinal loss to West Germany.

[ ENGLAND: Why they’ll win the World Cup ]

They are England’s two greatest goalkeepers. The way Pickford’s career is progressing, he could be joining that elite group.

Pickford is the most expensive British goalkeeper in history , after joining Premier League team Everton from Sunderland last year for a fee that could rise to 30 million pounds ($38.3 million), and the third costliest goalkeeper ever after Italy great Gianluigi Buffon and Brazil’s Ederson Moraes of Manchester City.

He is breaking the mold. Away from his agility and shot-stopping, no previous English goalkeeper has showed such composure and technical ability with his feet, a trait that England manager Gareth Southgate sees as vital for his team’s approach.

“Pickford, for me, is sort of the prototype of what a modern goalkeeper should be,” Southgate said.

Against Sweden, some of the clipped passes Pickford made to his wingbacks, Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young, were as good as any of England’s ball-playing midfielders could produce.

“To be able to play the way that I think we want to play going forward,” Southgate said, “we need goalkeepers of that ilk.”

Whatever happens in the semifinals or potentially the final, Pickford will return to England as one of the team’s star performers in Russia. The abiding memory will likely be an acrobatic save against Colombia that saw him tip Mateus Uribe’s dipping long-range effort onto the crossbar at full stretch.

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It might even rival Banks’ storied save from Brazil great Pele in the 1970 World Cup.

Yet, more recently, English goalkeepers have been better known for make high-profile mistakes, too. There was Robert Green allowing a seemingly harmless shot from U.S. forward Clint Dempsey through his grasp and into the net in a World Cup group-stage game in 2010.

Joe Hart was at fault for the winning goal when tiny Iceland beat England 2-1 in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. In 2007, Scott Carson’s mistake, when he spilled a long-range effort into his own net in a decisive qualifying match, contributed to England failing to reach Euro 2008. England’s goalkeeper at the start of the 21st century, David James, was sometimes cruelly labeled “Calamity James” because of his frequent mistakes.

The main criticism aimed at Pickford at this World Cup was his failure to stop Adnan Januzaj’s curling shot that earned Belgium a 1-0 win over England in the group stage. The ball almost went over the head of Pickford, who dived to his right and attempted the save with his left hand.

Pickford stands at 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters) tall, which is relatively short for an elite goalkeeper, and Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said: “I would have caught it. He was too busy throwing his legs in the air.”

Pickford has shown since then that he makes up for his lack of height with agility and speed across his line. Just ask Swedish players Marcus Berg and Viktor Claesson.

England is just hoping Pickford’s thumb heals in time for Croatia.