mark noble

My preview and prediction for today’s game

After the disappointment of losing against Leicester in the League cup in midweek, the Hammers welcome Norwich City to Upton Park in what should be an entertaining affair. West Ham’s three away wins against the “big boys” has certainly set them on track for a good season, but it will probably pay to heed the two home defeats against Bournemouth and Leicester when assessing their chances this afternoon.

There is no doubt the Bilic’s team is a “work in progress”, and the two home defeats can probably be put down to the players getting used to the way that the manager wants them to play. After all, it must be a bit of a culture shock switching from Sam Allardyce’s direct style of play to the more measured and passing-based style that Bilic is attempting to impress on his squad. The long ball from the defence up to the front is now virtually non-existent, so much so it makes you think whether the players get fined for every long ball they play (joking, of course)! The fact that the Hammers’ away wins have been achieved with a more counter-attacking style is probably no coincidence. The players will have been more used to playing like this under Allardyce and the home games where West Ham have to take the initiative will take longer to perfect, I am sure.

Norwich City have impressed this season, with the Hammers’ Matt Jarvis scoring valuable goals, although he is ineligible to play against his parent club. The match today should have a few goals in it, with both sides likely to play open football, and it will be a good benchmark for both clubs to see how well they are progressing. Andy Carroll is likely to start on the bench for West Ham, but will probably get some game time at some stage as he tries to get match fit. I for one am not convinced as yet that Carroll knows quite how to play in the new regime, with his aerial power being his biggest asset. It will, though, be pleasing if does adapt to the new style and, more importantly, stay clear of any injuries this season.

As for my prediction, if West Ham have got rid of the tiredness they displayed against Leicester in midweek, I will go for a 2-0 home win. If the midweek exertions and the number of matches played so far start to take their toll, I might have to go for a 1-1 draw. Whatever happens, it should be an entertaining match.

COYI

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