The most envied league in the world is about to explode into action once again. A sell out crowd is expected at the fortress that we call Upton Park against new boys Cardiff City, and I for one, can not wait.
Everyone is hoping to avoid the big guns on the opening day, and in Cardiff, West Ham got to polar opposite. However the Championship winners are not to be scoffed at and could prove to be a tricky customer at for the Hammers at the Boleyn Ground this Saturday. With a point to prove and some good summer investments, Cardiff City are not to be underestimated.
The Bluebirds are back in the top flight for the first time in half a century and Malky’s men are determined to stay. Cardiff have made some solid investments that will add a little premier league quality to their side breaking their own transfer fee record three times in doing so. Steven Caulker coming in at centre back will being some real experience even at the young age of 21. As well as Caulker, Gary Medal has came in from Sevilla and will add some real steal to their midfield. Cardiff fans will disappointed that to won’t get to see their summer signing striker Andreas Cornelius who will be out with an injury. The big Dane scored an impressive 20 in 44 games last season for F.C. Copenhagen.
This will be a concern for Cardiff who, although they won The Championship, did not have someone who reached double figures in goals in 46 games. A  big cause for concern.
Pre season has been a mixed bag for Cardiff who have recorded wins over Athletic Blibao and Chievo but have also lost to Brentford. South Korean winger Kim Bo-Kyung has probably been the most impressive, scoring in three of their friendlies whilst Fraizer Campbell and Peter Whittingham have netted twice. All three will be important outlets for the Welsh club on Saturday. The experienced Craig Bellamy has also impressed and is sure to be a talisman for Cardiff this season.
As well as Cornelius out with an ankle injury, Cardiff will also be missing suspended defender Andrew Taylor.
Big Sam has spent big this summer and has smashed the clubs transfer fee record by bringing in giant striker Andy Carroll. Along with Carroll, Sam has invested in experienced full back Razvan Rat and Liverpool’s Stewart Downing. Unfortunately Andy seems to be carrying an injury which will more than likely keep him out of the opening day fixture. But I’ve still got my fingers crossed. Rat and Downing should both feature in Saturdays starting XI
West Ham have had an impressive pre-season wins, particularly on their tour of Germany, should see the Hammers in good shape. The Hammers will want to continue on last season’s impressive 10th place finish and their equally impressive pre-season.
One player who has particularly stood out pre season is young talent, Ravel Morrison. Fans will be hopeful of him making at least a cameo against Cardiff. Due to Andy Carroll being injured, Modibo Maiga could be used as a solo centre forward. Other key men for West Ham include to ever combative, goal scoring midfielder Kevin Nolan. Nolan will be looking to pick up where he left off on the last day of the 2012/13 season, where he scored a hat trick against relegated Reading.
West Ham conceded the fewest headed goals (four) in the Premier League last year, this was mainly down to some immense defensive displays from Winston Reid and James Collins. The two will be hoping for more of the same and a clean sheet against Cardiff. Although Collins faces a race against time to be fit.
The last time the two met was West Ham’s 5-0 aggregate win in the play-off semi finals in 2012. Something that will be very encouraging for West Ham fans.
I predict a 3-1 victory for West Ham.
See you at 3pm, Saturday…
Come on you Irons!