Saturday, 20 August 2016

Rival Lines: West Ham Til I Die says Bilic has over achieved

Rival Lines
Match Preview: West Ham Utd v AFCB
Blogger Interview: West Ham Til I die
Twitter: @WestHamTil

There are usually rather a few goals in games between Wet Ham and AFCB and this game is suddenly very important for both sides after the results of their respective first games of this season in the Premier League. I spoke to Sean Whetstone of the West Ham Till I die website to find out how the Hammers were enjoying their new home and what his expectations were for Slaven Bilic's side this season.

CC: What are your expectations for West Ham this season?

WHTID: It is that second tricky season for Bilic, maybe he over achieved in his first season rising as high as third at one stage. Most Hammers fans believe a top ten finish is achievable and expected. The pundits have gone seventh but I hope we can bag a sixth place finish and qualify for Europa league for a three season running, unless we win the Europa League this year and qualify for Champions league instead of course ;-)

CC: What do you make of playing football in the Olympic stadium is it a big help for West Ham's growth and does it feel like home?

WHTID: It was strange walking up to our new stadium for Europa match and the Juventus friendly. Walking to stadium feels like Wembley way and it feels like a day at Wembley. It has an away game or neutral feel about it so far but I am sure we will get used to it soon and it will soon feel like home. Obviously the hope is the extra income and iconic stadium will help drive the club forward and will grow our global brand worldwide.

CC: Aaron Cresswell is out for a few months but the Hammers have signed Arthur Masuaku as a left-back do you know much about him?

WHTID: The 22-year-old arrived at West Ham from Greek Superleague champions Olympiacos on a four-year contract for a transfer fee of £6.2m.The Lille-born defender has won back-to-back domestic titles with the Piraeus club, and has played more than 100 senior games despite his tender age, including 12 in the UEFA Champions League.

CC: Which of your new signings do you think will make the most impact this season?

WHTID: I think Andre Ayew will make the biggest impact this season, he is our record signing at £20.5m and reunites with his old mate Dimitri Payet from his Marseille days. Ayew scored 12 goals last season for Swansea but crucially 6 of those goals from 8 games he started as a striker. For those of you who play the Premier League fantasy game he scored the exact same number of points as Payet on 171 which should say everything on his ability. [ Ed - sadly Andre Ayew was reported to have a thigh injury in mid-week and is expected to be out for four months]

CC: Do you think Andy Carroll is capable of playing a full season and if he does would it be a massive difference on where West Ham could finish?

WHTID: Andy Carroll has had his ankle rebuild and is on a special training programme which should keep him fit, he was in great form at the end of last season scoring 7 goals from 13 appearances and scored two goals in our friendly with Juventus. That said we now have Andre Ayew, Jonathan Calleri on loan who was wanted by Barcelona and Sakho coming back from injury. He won't just be depending on Andy Carroll but it would be great if if survived the whole season.

CC: Should West Ham take the Europa League more seriously this season?

WHTID: 100% Yes, I hope we really overcome the play off two legged matches for qualification for the group stages. The ultimate prize is qualification for the Champions League and something worth playing for. [Ed - West Ham won their first tie against NK Domzale 4-4 on aggregate in the Europa League and they play Astra Giurgiu in their next Europa League match next week].

CC: Sam Allardyce is now England manager so are there any players at West Ham who you think might now make the England squad?

Of course Mark Noble, Andy Carroll and a fit Aaron Cresswell should be shoe in for England with Big Sam in charge but I hope Michail Antonnio would also get a good look from Big Sam in the squad. Time will tell but I would expect at least two West Ham players in a England squad.

CC: It was a bit of a thriller last season when AFC Bournemouth played at Upton Park. Do you expect a high scoring encounter again?

WHTID: It will be nervous start to the Premier League for both sides but we will want to do well in our first game the London Stadium. I estimate between 2 and 3 goals will be scored though. I am hoping for some exciting football to be played and looking forward to taking up my season ticket seat in the new West Stand for the first Premier League game.

CC: Has Bilic already delivered the football that West Ham fans would be happy to watch for several seasons?

WHTID: Life is rarely dull with Slaven Bilic in charge of the Hammers and he knows about the West Ham way. He loves a winger, the football is very attractive and a joy to watch for West Ham fans and neutrals alike. Who can not get excited when Payet gets hold of the ball or takes a free kick within range of the goal. Long may it continue!

CC: What will the score be between West Ham and AFC Bournemouth

WHTID: I will go for a 2-1 Win for West Ham. A debut home goal from Andre Ayew and an Andy Carroll headed goal to win it in the second half of the game. [Ed - well at least Ayew is not a player AFCB need to worry about for this game now.]

CC: Thanks very much for your answers Sean. The memory of the 1-3 drubbing that West Ham gave AFCB in their last meeting still sits very clearly in the mind with Dimitri Payet running the show. Unless AFCB can get on top of him it will be difficult for AFCB to get something out of the game. Both sides attack at any given opportunity and it could be a real thriller.

Check out the  West Ham Till I die  site for more news on West Ham Utd. You will also see my return answers on their sometime this weekend.

Contract News
Junior Stanislas has signed a new three-year deal at AFCB

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