2016/17 Premier League Opposition Preview: West Ham

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Next up in our preview of Liverpool’s 2016/17 Premier League opponents are an increasingly dangerous West Ham side.

When we play them: Home – December 10th; Away – May 13th

Of all the so-called lesser teams who have strengthened in England’s top-flight in recent years, few look more capable of ruffing up the big boys than the Hammers.

It’s exciting times for West Ham fans and, with the brilliant Slaven Bilic at the helm, they will feel great things are possible.

2015/16 was a highly impressive campaign at Upton Park – the last season at West Ham‘s famous ground – and their seventh-place finish secured a spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Richly-deserved wins both home and away against Liverpool were secured, and they also knocked the Reds out of the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage.

Having experienced some barren years, including a couple of relegations to the Championship, there is a feeling that West Ham are somewhere close to being back in the big time.

Supporter Q&A

West Ham United's Aaron Cresswell

We spoke to West Ham season ticket holder Sean Whetstone (@westhamfootball) about the Hammers’ upcoming campaign:

West Ham had a superb 2015/16 campaign under the likeable Slaven Bilic – how confident are you going into this season? Happy with your transfer business so far this summer?

Well it is that tricky second season for Mr Bilic. I think he far surpassed expectations for his first season but makes this season all the more harder.

I am happy with the additions we have made so far and delighted we have kept hold of our star players, but we need a star striker and a quality left back for cover for Aaron Cresswell before we will be content.

What are your thoughts on the move to the rather generically named London Stadium? Will it pay off, or will no longer having the atmosphere and intimidation of Upton Park lose you a certain edge?

I am fresh from my first visit to the renamed London Stadium last night, a lot has been written about the former Olympic stadium. To be completely honest I was very impressed. The sight lines and views were great from my lower tier seat.

Although some with rose tinted glasses believe we sat centimetres away from the pitch at our former ground, the reality is we had been further away since we added the old West stand. Last night was like a trip to Wembley and a bit surreal but we will get used to it.

The acoustics of the place is great and given time the atmosphere and singing will improve but a good start. I think away fans will be blown away by the stadium when they go there.

Where do you think the Hammers will finish, and who are you tipping to shine within the squad?

I think West Ham will finish in the top ten but difficult to say where. I am hoping to improve on the seventh place for a top-six finish. If you pushed me I would say sixth but it will be hard this year with an improved Chelsea and Manchester United picking up their form.

Dimitri Payet will continue to shine but we should not forgot Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonnio. Cresswell is a big loss for the first half of the season. I hope the biggest star is yet to sign – a proven goal scorer who can bag 20 goals for the Hammers.

What about Liverpool? How do you see their season panning out under Jurgen Klopp? Title challengers or another false dawn?

This is the season where Klopp has to prove himself, this will be his squad, his signings and he will be expected to deliver. I am sure Liverpool fans will be expecting no less that Champions League qualification and/or a cup but competition will be tight for those top four places.

A title challenge is probably a little too soon for Mr Klopp but anything can happen, as Leicester City proved last season. I wish you all the best of luck as long as you don’t take any points from us or cost us a league position ;-).

London Stadium

General view of the stadium during day two of the Muller Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2016. See PA story ATHLETICS London. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial Use only, Any commercial use to be approved by British Athletics. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

Capacity: 60,000

When we play there: May 13.

Away fans’ pubs: The Longthorne, Ye Olde Black Bull and the Queens Head in the high street close to the station.

In Westfield shopping centre itself you have Cafe Football and the Cow pub, but the stadium would much prefer you to drink inside the ground. It opens two hours before kick off.

Heineken have purchased the pouring rights for the stadium and away supporters can enjoy some other beers and ciders including Amstel, Fosters, Birra Moretti, Bulmers and Strongbow. Draft and bottles will be available throughout the concourse area. There are also two real ales named Iron Ale and Boleyn Bitter available.

West Ham, 2016/17

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 2, 2016: West Ham United's Michail Antonio scores the first goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Upton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Players IN: Sofiane Feghouli, from Valencia – free; Toni Martinez, from Valencia – £2.4 million; Havard Nordtveit, from Borussia Monchengladbach – free; Domingos Quina – free; Ashley Fletcher, from Man United – free, Gokhan Tore, Besiktas – loan; Arthur Masuaku, from Olympiakos – £6 million

Players OUT: Elliot Lee, to Barnsley – undisclosed; James Tomkins, to Crystal Palace – £10 million; George Dobson, to Walsall – loan; Stephen Hendrie, to Blackburn Rovers – loan; Kyle Knoyle, to Wigan Athletic – loan

Sean’s Best XI: Adrian, Masuaku, Reid, Ogbonna, Antonio, Noble, Kouyate, Payet, Ayew, Feghouli, Carroll.

2016/17 Predictions

11.11.2011, Turk Telekom Arena, Istambul, TUR, UEFA EURO Qualifikation, Tuerkei (TUR) vs Kroatien (CRO), im Bild Slaven Bilic // during the UEFA EURO qualifying football match, between Turkey (TUR) and Craoatia (CRO) at Turk Telekom Arena Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey on 11/11/2011. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Pixsell/ Slavko Midzor..***** ATTENTION - OUT OF GER, CRO *****

TIA’s West Ham Predicted Finish: 7th

Where Sean says West Ham will finish: 6th

Where Sean says Liverpool will finish: 5th

Who Sean predicts to win the Premier League: Man United

Read all our team-by-team season previews here

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