West Ham United host Middlesbrough in what will be a match of paramount significance for them. The Hammers started off their season with high ambitions, which in hindsight seem to be premature for them. Flawed transfer strategy, unlucky injuries to key players and a loss of form throughout the team sees them languishing at the bottom of the table. Having being knocked out of the Europa might act as a boon in disguise as they need to focus on the Premier League to get back on track.
The Hammers will be facing a Boro outfit who have tailed off after an enterprising start to the season. They are currently in the 16th place having mustered 5 points from 6 matches thus far. Both the teams will be looking to pile on the misery on the other and things point towards an interesting match-up between two teams who have been very open in their playing style till now.
TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINE-UPS
WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1)
Havard Nordtveit is unavailable after undergoing a minor medical procedure. Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku, Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho all remain sidelined, although Cresswell and Carroll may both be back soon after the international break.
Adrian; Arbeloa, Ogbonna, Reid, Byram; Noble, Kouyate; Antonio, Lanzini, Payet; Zaza
Fabio (knee) has returned to training this week but isn’t expected to be rushed back into first-team action. Grant Leadbitter is closing on a return but won’t be fit for this match.
Valdes; Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Friend; De Roon, Clayton; Traore, Ramirez, Downing; Negredo
Dimitri Payet has been his usual brilliant self even after an exhausting summer where he reached the finals of the Euros with France. He has quickly got back into groove and has been notching up the assists with Antonio his chief co-conspirator. But the rest of the team has failed to step up which has resulted in West ham’s current plight. The Frenchman will again be expected to provide the creative spark and his long range threat will be something the Boro team will be wary of.
The burly Spaniard has gone off the boil in recent weeks after having made a bright start in his second stint in the Premier League. Luckily for the Boro fans, he hasn’t looked out of sorts and his link up play and his desire to get at the end of passes and crosses has been admirable. A goal is beckoning and he will be hoping it is against the Hammers.
WEST HAM UNITED- 23/20