Premier League Preview – West Ham

West HamWest Ham will go through good patches and bad patches next season, but they should finish mid-table comfortably.

Andy Carroll will be a huge factor on where West Ham end up finishing. If he can remain fit for the season, after he returns from injury, he will be a major force to be reckoned with.

The signing of Stewart Downing by Sam Allardyce strongly suggests that he expects Carroll to be the focal point for the Hammers this season.

He has also endeavoured to tighten up at the back with the signing of experienced campaigner Razvan Rat from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Players in: Adrian (Real Betis) Free, Andy Carroll (Liverpool) £15m, Stewart Downing (Liverpool) £5m, Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk) Free, Danny Whitehead (Stockport County) Undisclosed.

Players out: Carlton Cole (released), Robert Hall (Bolton Wanderers) Compensation yet to be agreed, Jake Larkins (Leyton Orient) Free, Gary O’Neil (QPR) Free, Jack Powell (Released), Jami Rafati (Released), Eoin Wearen (Released).

Player to watch: Andy Carroll – a true return to form will see Carroll move back into contention for a place in the England squad. The 6ft 3in hit man is unplayable on his day and with the likes of Matthew Jarvis, Joe Cole and now Stewart Downing ready to supply him with crosses galore, the ex-Newcastle man has a great chance to right his name into West Ham folklore.

Young player to watch: Ravel Morrison – those that have recognised the potential Morrison has have simply been waiting for the ex-Manchester United man to make a real breakthrough. He has represented England at U16, U17 and U18 level, and spent last season on loan at Birmingham, where he gained invaluable first-team experience, making 27 appearances for the Blues. Certainly, if he does fulfil his promise, West Ham will have a special player on there hands.

Player needing to improve: James Collins – when the Welshman is on his game he is an invaluable asset for West Ham. Hammers fans will want to see an improvement in consistency from Collins though. He has been known to make costly errors, but if he can eradicate those, he will be a massive aid to Sam Allardyce’s plans.

Season prediction: 9th

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