West Ham United return to the London Stadium Saturday afternoon, when they take on solid West Bromwich Albion in a battle between eighth and ninth in the Premier League.
After late fears that he would miss this contest, Hammers fans will not be pleased to see Andy Carroll be unavailable to play. It’s a precaution for his nagging groin injury, as Slaven Bilic will allow Carroll to get three weeks of rest before they play Watford on February 25.
Also not in the lineup for West Ham in this match is Andre Ayew, despite him coming back for the African Cup of Nations for almost a week now. The Ghana vice captain helped lead his side to a fourth place finish and will not be placed instantly back into the side from Gabon, similar to Cheikhou Kouyate’s slow return to the side after playing for Senegal.
Kouyate and Aaron Cresswell also had fitness concerns throughout the week, but were guaranteed to be available by Bilic and are in the lineup. Sam Byram and Havard Nordtveit do return to the 18, as they are on the bench. Arthur Masuaku and Diafra Sakho are out, and Angelo Ogbonna is of course gone for the remainder of the season after our Jonathan Liebling broke the story.
The opposite of team health is the case for Tony Pulis, as West Brom have all of their players remarkably healthy with Jonny Evans and Claudio Yacob healthy again.
I’ll be back for the first half recap. Enjoy what should be a quality tactical contest between these two top half clubs.
FIRST HALF RECAP
For another game, West Ham concede the opening goal, but it was two calls that clearly went against them. Slaven Bilic has every right to be upset that his team aren’t the ones up 1-0, as Nacer Chadli’s goal came after Chris Brunt fouled Sofiane Feghouli and Feghouli’s disallowed goal was wrongly called as Michail Antonio was deemed to be interfering the play in an offside spot.
Still, there were issues for Bilic to deal with, namely Chadli having a field day against Kouyate to continue West Ham’s issues at right back this season. Byram making an appearance in the second half seems likely.
Who would you like to see come on first for West Ham in the second half? #WHUWBA— Brace The Hammer (@BraceTheHammer) February 11, 2017
The match review will come after the final whistle.
And well, what a wild ending.