West Ham United turned quite a few heads in the Premier League last season, with an impressive seventh-place finish that saw them in contention for Champions League qualification. Manager Slaven Bilic has been able to instill a fighting attitude in The Hammers, and the Croatian will be expecting an even better showing in the upcoming campaign.
West Ham proved that they were not to be taken lightly by top league teams, with victories against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool displaying their good form. Their league exploits also brought Europa League qualification: an important tournament to be a part of with moving into the larger Olympic Stadium this season.
West Ham’s attack has been much improved, as forwards Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll combined for 14 goals across all competitions in 2015-16. As both players build a better chemistry with one another, the club will be expecting goal counts to increase. Captain Mark Noble has displayed excellent leadership skills in guiding a strong midfield and defensive unit, resulting in nine clean sheets for goalkeeper Adrian.
The most promising aspect for the team is French midfielder Dimitri Payet. The 29-year-old stole the show at Euro 2016 and has been a catalyst for success in many areas.
The combination of all of these elements seems to be the issue for West Ham and Bilic. Difficulties holding onto leads late in matches and improved depth along the backline will be important for a successful season. While offensive numbers have improved under Bilic, the defence has not always held up its end of the bargain. Addressing these areas will be key.
The club are certainly looking to add players before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, with some defensive reinforcements expected. At the other end of the pitch, West Ham continue to be in discussions over the services of AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca. The deal has gone back and forth for some time now, with an answer expected sooner rather than later.
If the transfer does happen, West Ham will be able to add an experienced veteran with an excellent goal-scoring track record.
Key matches for West Ham United will take place this month, with the Premier League opener at Chelsea (8/15) and the first leg of Europa League qualifying at Romanian side FC Astra Giurgiu (8/18). It will be important for the club to get off to a winning start against a bitter London rival and secure a place in the Europa League group stage.
Looking ahead, adjusting to their new Olympic Stadium surroundings will be important when facing teams like Manchester City and Arsenal. The Boleyn Ground was full of bubbles and troubles for visiting squads, and the Hammers will need to make their new home a fortress.
West Ham United are poised for success in many ways, and have been knocking on the door of the Premier League elite during the past few years. With a new home and quality players within the team, the Hammers will be expecting to bring at least Champions League qualification to the Olympic Stadium with a top four finish in 2016-17.