There was finally some good news for West Ham with the loan capture of Simone Zaza from Juventus, bringing with him a solid if unspectacular record of 25 goals in 85 Serie A appearances, but the 25-year-old’s purchase won’t be enough to lift the mood ahead of the Irons’ trip to Manchester City.
Dropping out of the Europa League worked wonders 12 months ago, with the east Londoners’ early August exit to Astra Giurgiu, a round before the same result last Thursday, followed by a string of impressive early-season Premier League away victories at the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and City.
Those expecting the same might happen again at the Etihad will like the 10/1 on offer with bwin, but all the signs point to a home win at 5/18.
For starters, Slaven Bilic couldn’t quite get away with last season’s Europa League surrender, when only Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini from the current team were sent to Romania to record a 2-1 loss.
At the London Stadium, eight of the players who featured started West Ham’s last top-flight fixture, the 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth, with six on from the off in both games.
These players were spared a gruelling Thursday test before their opening-day victory over the Gunners in 2015/16, and subsequently ahead of trips to Anfield and the Etihad.
We’re now in the reverse situation, with Mark Noble likely to return in midfield, Lanzini possibly back to help out the attack, but team talisman Payet unlikely to feature.
Even worse for boss Slaven Bilic is Havard Nordtveit’s potential absence after picking up an injury in the 1-0 loss against Astra, as the Norwegian has been covering at centre half and in midfield.
Zaza surely won’t make the squad in time, while Andre Ayew, Andy Carroll, Sofiane Feghouli and Diafra Sakho’s injuries have decimated Bilic’s striking ranks.
They look a long way from achieving another Etihad win, but a repeat of last term’s 2-1 is priced at 25/1 with bwin.