Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 11/10
West Ham United are set to welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the London Stadium in what should be a very interesting contest on Sunday evening, as a part of the third round of this season’s Premier League roller coaster.
Having successfully avoided relegation last time around by finishing 16th and five points above the red zone, the Hammers are yet to earn a single point this term. In the opening two rounds, they suffered defeats at the hands of Newcastle United at home by 0-2 and away to Arsenal, 2-1. They did, however, manage to pass through the two rounds of the Carabao Cup they’ve played so far, dispatching the likes of Charlton Athletic (3-0) and Hull City (5-1).
Nonetheless, manager David Moyes is currently on the shortest odds in the Premier League to get sacked from his job first, due to the poor start to the league campaign. To make matters worse, he tested positive to Covid-19 mere hours ahead of the Hull match and won’t be in the dugout against Wolves, having to self-isolate for 10 days.
To be fair to the former Everton and Manchester United boss, his team did not perform badly against Arsenal. They took nine shots compared to the Gunners’ five, but they still weren’t able to get anything from the game as goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah made the one scored by Michail Antonio for his team practically pointless.
All in all, it remains to be seen if they can afford to finish the game on Sunday on the wrong side of the scoreline again.
Defenders Issa Diop and midfielder Josh Cullen also tested positive to Covid-19 and were pulled out of the line-up against Hull, and they remain unavailable.
It’s probably fair to expect Antonio, the Hammers’ main attacking threat for months now, to lead the line upfront again ahead of, or together with, Sebastian Haller.
Having done reasonably well in the Europa League last season, Wolves suffered late heartbreak in terms of qualification for that competition this time around. They finished seventh in the league, behind Tottenham Hotspur on goal-difference, and they needed Chelsea to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final to get to Europe again. However, the Gunners produced a fine display in that game and beat Frank Lampard’s side, and took that prospect away from them.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team achieved mixed results in the two league games played so far this term. They beat Sheffield United away in the opening round by 0-2, before conceding defeat against Manchester City at home, 1-3. Despite the obvious quality of Pep Guardiola’s team, they will have been disappointed on the day, given that they managed to beat them twice in 2019/20.
It should be said that they lost the services of two very important players in this transfer window, wing-back Matt Doherty and forward Diogo Jota, who joined Spurs and Liverpool, respectively. Winger Helder Costa also left and made his way to Leeds United. On the other hand, they signed striker Fabio Silva from Porto, and defenders Nelson Semedo from Barcelona and Ki-Jana Hoever from Liverpool.
Semedo is expected to slot straight into the team in the place of Doherty. The other flank is likely to be covered by Ruben Vinagre, who replaced the injured Fernando Marcal early in the match against City.
Raul Jimenez will lead the line again, probably flanked by Adama Traore and Daniel Podence.
Despite the decent performance at the Emirates, West Ham are likely to struggle for survival again this season. The fact that Moyes won’t be there to issue commands from the touchline will certainly play a part.
Wolves are, on the other hand, a very good team and it will be no surprise if they leave the capital with all three points in the bag.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 11/10
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