2018 has been a crazy year for West ham as we have finally bedded into our new stadium and are looking to move to a higher level. Payetgate and the supporter unrest that besieged the club during 2017 seem a long time ago as Manuel Pellegrini has steered the club to new heights with a quality squad that are playing football in the West Ham tradition with an open attacking style based upon good passing and emphasis upon skill rather than muscle.
And so, after a terrible start where we looked (understandably) like a team who have never played together before, the system has bedded in and despite our usual bad luck with injuries we are driving up the table and could reach seventh if we can beat lowly Burnley today.
The Clarets have lost the mojo of last season and look in real need of some new blood in the January transfer window. Sean Dyche is a refreshingly honest realist and will know that he needs both more firepower up front and some defensive steel if his side are to avoid the drop. Having conceded 41 goals, Ex-Hammer Joe Hart has been busy picking the ball out of the net but perhaps even more damning is the statistic that he has also made the greatest number of saves for any keeper in the Premiership this season!
There are a number of uncertainties on the Hammers side as it is unclear whether Chicharito or Balbuena will be available, with rumours suggesting that they may not have travelled to Lancashire for the match. Similarly, Marko Arnautovic may be available but either way seems unlikely to start. Fans will be interested to see if Perez is punished for his miss against Southampton and whether Manuel Pellegrini feels that Andy Carroll is fit to start a game and /or needs the opportunity to put himself in the shop window and / or the chance to demonstrate his worth to the club as his current contract runs out. Felipe Anderson seems to have shrugged off the knock he picked up while garrotting Southampton in midweek. There is less certainty as to whether Pablo Zabaleta has recovered from the flu-like illness that kept him out of the visit to St Mary’s. Either way, Mark Noble seems set to return for his 450th appearance for the club as Declan Rice gets the chance to celebrate his new 6 year contract.
Mystic Mark Lawrenson reckons Burnley will win, without any clear reasoning while the bookies firmly disagree making the Hammers 11/10 and Burnley 11/4. Those odds could change considerably when the starting line ups are announced. If West Ham win they will amass a club record 18 points in December and move up to 7th in the league. Its at times like these that we seem to stumble most frequently…..but under Pelle things do seem different, don’t they?
Rory Nostradamus reckons it'll be a 3-1 away win (17/1).