West Ham: WLLWLD
Kick Off: 4pm, 21/08/16
TV: Sky Sports 1
Referee: Craig Pawson
West Ham team news:
Record signing Andre Ayew is out for four months after injuring his thigh just 35 minutes into his league debut. Dmitri Payet was spared the midweek journey to Romania to ensure he’s fit for the weekend, but Sofiane Feghouli, Aaron Cresswell, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho are all out injured.
Bournemouth team news:
The visitors don’t have too many injury concerns other than long-term absentee Tyrone Mings, though this weekend is likely to come too soon for Junior Stanislas, who is closing on a return from hernia surgery.
Bournemouth arrive as West Ham’s first top-flight housewarming guests at their new home in Stratford on the back of a chastening opening defeat to Manchester United.
The 3-1 scoreline certainly flattered the Cherries, and while it’s too early to say whether it was more as a result of Man Utd’s new-found dominance rather than a Bournemouth regression, there can be little doubt that Eddie Howe will be concerned at just how flimsy his defence appeared.
Late to the first ball, last to the second and often slow and sluggish, Bournemouth’s back four struggled up against the pace and power of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co. Day one it may have been, but it’s unlikely there’ll be a more hapless goal conceded this season than that which granted Juan Mata the opener.
But with another week of training and fitness under their belts, Howe will be hoping that the early-season rustiness is behind them.
West Ham have had no such luxury, with little time to digest their late loss to Chelsea before they were heading to Romania for the latest leg in the Europa League odyssey they so desperately wanted last season.
Travails to far-flung Eastern Europe have previously hit Premier League teams hard, particularly those of West Ham’s stature who don’t quite have the squad depth to match the clubs more acquainted with regular European campaigns.
As it happened, Slaven Bilic opted to make eight changes to his side in the 1-1 draw at Astra Giurgiu, but promises to name a stronger XI in the return leg next week. It suggests that, while longer-term the Hammers’ squad could well be stretched the further their continental exertions go, Bournemouth will not reap the benefits of a tired or weakened Hammers side on Sunday.
Particularly not with the home side wanting to put on a stirring opening show for their iconic new home, and with Payet among those offered a week’s rest, Bilic will be confident of cutting the Premier League ribbon at the stadium formerly known as Olympic with a performance worthy of a Team GB athlete.
A fit-again Payet is 11/2 to score first against a leaky away defence that conceded 67 goals last season – second only to Aston Villa – with West Ham to win 2-0 the pick of the scorelines at 9/1.