The summer of 2018 is over. The transfer window has now slammed shut and we are all set and ready for the start of the Premiership season.
West Ham have signed a total of nine players – Fredericks, Fabianski, Balbuena, Diop, Wilshere, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Perez & Sanchez. I think, this is the most permanent signings we have welcomed to the club in the one transfer window. (Feel free to prove me wrong). It is definitely the window we have spent the most money in. And it would be, in my opinion, the window we have brought in the most quality. But where will all these new signings fit into our squad? Will they be first teamers or squad players?
I love a stat which I’m sure many of you who may have read previous bogs of mine will have noticed. So, I have looked at our pre-season games with the hope of trying to work out our possible starting line-up for Sunday.
In total we played 7 friendlies. Of those 7 friendlies, 6 players have featured in all of them – Rice, Masuaku, Obiang, Diop, Noble and Snodgrass. With Masuaku starting in 6, Noble in 5, Obiang and Rice in 4, Snodgrass and Diop in 3.
We had 4 players featuring in 6 of the games – Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Cullen and Arnautovic. Arnautovic starting in all 6, Ogbonna and Zabaleta in 4 and Cullen in 1.
Featuring in 5 out of the 7 friendlies was Adrian, Haksabanovic, Fredericks, Wilshere and Martinez. Out of the 5 games, Adrian and Wilshere started all 5, Fredericks 3, Haksabanovic 1 and Martinez came on as a sub in all his appearances.
In total we used 33 players throughout the pre-season friendlies so the remaining 18 featured 4 or less times.
Out of our new signings not listed in the games above we have Balbuena (4 games, starting all 4), Yarmolenko & Anderson (3 games, both starting all 3) & Fabianski (2games, starting both). Perez and Sanchez were both signed on transfer deadline day.
We had 8 different goalscorers in our friendlies – Arnautovic with 5 goals and Carroll, Noble, Snodgrass, Martinez, Antonio, Anderson & Hernandez getting 1 apiece.
POSSIBLE STARTING 11.
Based on all the above, I think our starting 11 for the opening game of the season could be something like:
Fabianski – Gets the nod over Adrian for me as he played in 2 of the last 3 games, conceding only 1 goal. He was a fairly big money signing and I think he will go in just ahead of Adrian.
Fredericks – Although Zabaleta played in more of the pre-season friendlies, I feel Fredericks will get his place in the starting 11. We will need his speed against Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Balbuena – His 4 appearances were in the last 4 games where he looked very solid. He played the full game in each of those matches which would give the opinion he will be a starter. His experience will be vital.
Ogbonna – Mr dependable, he’s coming off a very good season last year and will be keen to continue where he left of. His 6 appearances in pre-season would suggest the new signings will find it hard to dislodge him from the team.
Cresswell – Although Cresswell only made the one start in pre-season due to injury, he played in the last game and again looked very solid. It’s a tough call between him and Masuaku however I feel we may need his more defensive qualities then Masuaku’s attacking qualities against Liverpool.
Noble – It’s hard to argue with his performances in pre-season, he seems to be relishing in the more defensive midfield role. He’s the club captain and I feel he’ll be a starter under Pellegrini the same way he has under the previous 7 managers.
Wilshere – He has looked a different level than what we are used to seeing in the midfield area. His vision, passing, work rate, power, positional sense are second to none. He’s the signing I’ve been most impressed by.
Antonio – I’m giving Antonio his place in the team for this game. He has started and played the full game in 3 out of the last 4 games. He has looked like the ‘old’ Antonio, running at teams, being bullish and scoring goals (ok 1 goal). In the past seasons I think he has been rushed back from injury on too many occasions which has resulted in his performance levels dropping. We will need his presence and physicality against Liverpool.
Anderson – It’s hard to leave out our transfer record signing and why would we? Again he is another player who has excited me in pre-season games. He played in 3 out of the last 4 and managed to get on the score sheet. His vision and passing ability will be needed to open up Liverpool’s defence.
Arnautovic – The main man. He has been on fire in pre-season. Played 6, started 6, scored 5. Nothing else needs said.
Hernandez – I hope Pellegrini stands by his word and sees Chicharito as an important part of his team. His ratio last season was 8 goals in 28 games, 12 of those games were from the bench. Therefore he scored 8 goals in 1544 minutes of football meaning 1 goal every 193 minutes (1 goal every 2.14games). He only played in the last pre-season friendly however managed to score after 23 mins. He scores goals.
So out of our 9 new signings I see 5 of them starting on Sunday against Liverpool.
I can’t wait for Sunday! Let’s get this season started, hopefully it will be a good one and we’ll have plenty to be happy about.
Be loud, be proud, be West Ham!