Sunday kicks off the season for West Ham United and what a season it will be! The Manuel Pellegrini era starts against Liverpool with a revamped squad and (gasp!) optimism brimming from fans.
Brace the Hammer writers have weighed in on what they think we’ll see this season. We’re peering into our crystal balls to see what the 2018-2019 season has in store.
Where we finish: 7. West Ham can break into the top half of the table. Based on last season, the Hammers weren’t far from that mark. Since then, they’ve improved. Manuel Pellegrini seems to be a more competent manager. Better things could be coming to East London.
Hammer of the Year: Marko Arnautovic for the second straight year. He would be the first West Ham player to win consecutive Hammer of the Year honors since Scott Parker did three times between 2009 and 2011.
Signing of the Season: Fabián Balbuena. For all the excitement and attacking quality Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko should bring, West Ham’s biggest weakness was in defense last year. Balbuena seems to be a veteran presence who could greatly improve that aspect of the squad, and he was an affordable signing, too.
Bold Prediction/Hot Take: Perhaps this isn’t the greatest hot take, but Mark Noble could be back in Hammer of the Year discussions. There’s a reason managers continually praise him. It’s not all skill, but there’s a passion there that’s needed in this side. And during preseason he has looked strong. So, Noble could be a consistent presence in a midfield that still faces some question marks.
Where we finish: I think West Ham finish 7th. The optimist in me wants to say 5th or 6th, but there are some very talent-rich clubs standing in the way of a 5th place finish. Lucky for West Ham, it’s looking like they’re pretty talent-rich at the moment.
Hammer of the Year: Arnie for the second time in a row.
Signing of the Season: I think will predictably be Felipe Anderson. If not him, though, I could see Balbuena being that guy. He’s looked very solid in preseason and in training according to a lot of players and fans.
Bold Prediction/Hot Take: We win the league!!!! Not really. Not yet... But there is a lot of reason to be optimistic, and my bold prediction, albeit not exactly for this season, is that West Ham can be in the Top Four within the next three years. If they keep up the signings, and if Pellegrini can really turn this team culture around (and it looks as if he has a bit already), then this season will be looked at as the turning point for West Ham actually achieving those “big club” dreams that the board has been dangling in front of fans since 2014.
Where we finish: 8. A mid-season dip keeps us out of the Europa League.
Hammer of the Year: Andriy Yarmolenko
Signing of the Season: Diop. He will link well with Rice and prove they are going to be a force for the future.
Bold Prediction/Hot Take:
Players: Yarmolenko turns out to be a better signing than Anderson. Not to say that Anderson won’t produce, but the transition from Italy to England will take a little longer than expected with Anderson having some trouble adjusting to the more physical play. Yarmo and Arnie find an early connection.
Team: We make a deep run in the FA Cup.
Where we finish: I’m going to say 7th. I think we’ll be strong all season and beat the teams we need to beat. I think we’ll struggle a bit against the big six of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea. We’ll win a few of those twelve but not a ton. I wouldn’t be shocked if we finished 5th or 6th though as I think Jose Mourniho is going to have his blow-up at Old Trafford and I think Chelsea and Tottenham might struggle.
Hammer of the Year: Javier Hernandez, this is a bit bold but my bold prediction will be even bolder! I think this is the year Chicharito shines for the Hammers. I think we’ll see a front two of Marko Arnautovic and Chicharitio which will bag us plenty of goals. Chicha has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and with all the attacking flair we have with Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio, Arnautovic, Wilshere, Yarmolenko, etc... I think Chicha will get lost in the box and find the ball.
Signing of the season: Jack Wilshere, I know again bold, but hear me out. We got him on a free and we’ve been needing a ball playing central midfielder for two years. I think Mark Noble can bring the fire and passion while Wilshere will bring the flair. He’ll be an excellent link between our defense and the attack and be able to help control the middle of the pitch, something we’ve been dreadful at since Big Sam left. Plus, on a free transfer if he’s really successful his signing looks better than the big money we splashed for Anderson, Diop, Yarmolenko, and Balbuena.
Bold Prediction/Hot Take: West Ham United will will the FA Cup for the first time since 1980! You heard it here first. There is a lot of attacking depth to this squad right now and I think that bodes well for a deep and successful cup run. I have this feeling that Manuel Pellegrini knows exactly how to turn West Ham around and winning an FA Cup is the first stepping stone. He’ll take it very seriously and we finally have the depth to handle a cup run and Premier League play. Winning the cup would completely change everything around West Ham; it’d make the London Stadium a home, it’d get fans incredibly excited, and it would show the David’s to leave football to football people. All of the negativity around the club would be gone and we’d be able to build for the future.
So what do you think will happen this season? Leave us a comment!