It’s been a tumultuous start to 2017 for West Ham United, as they host Crystal Palace Saturday afternoon in a pressurized London derby fixture.
Having a three match losing streak in all competitions and being without Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew (due to African Cup of Nations) was already enough of a headache for Slaven Bilic to deal with. But the Croatian manager received a major migraine with Dimitri Payet making his desire to leave the club officially public. With the French talisman banished from the side, a dark cloud has returned over the Hammers after seemingly getting rid of it in December.
At least West Ham aren’t a point off the relegation zone like their crosstown rivals are, as the Palace’s difficult season already has seen them sack Alan Pardew and give Sam Allardyce a redemption position after his shortlived England managing tenure.
Michail Antonio has recovered from his illness, and is in the starting lineup. Both James Collins and Sam Byram return to the matchday 18, with the former in the first XI while the right back is slowly rushed back into action by Bilic.
For Allardyce, Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Saho are the AFCON 2017 representative for Palace absent from Premier League action. Both James McArthur and Scott Dann have past late fitness tests.
Bilic has called this contest “a massive game.” After the beginning to West Ham’s New Year, that feeling is understandable. And it’s even moreso for their crosstown opponents.
Lineups and Bench
FIRST HALF REVIEW
Not much needs to be said about that mostly poor first half at the London Stadium, as both sides lacked the quality required to win this game.
Antonio being moved forward as Sam Byram has come in for Ogbonna should hopefully give the Hammers just better overall play.