West Ham are scheduled to take on Hull City on Saturday, April 1. In the not too distant past, the prospect of victory for the northerners might well have been shrugged off as a foolish joke given the fixture's date.
But not so now. Now the Irons are a team with three defeats in a row and are a side that have not won since early February.
They’ve slipped to 12th in the table and, with news that manager Slaven Bilic won’t be offered a fresh contract this summer , a journey to the city of culture is hardly a bright prospect. Here are five things to consider in the run up to the 3pm kick-off.
1. Tongues wag on Bilic’s likely replacement
Speculation is rife in the media that West Ham are lining up alternative leadership for their misfiring side. Reports in The Mirror suggest Reading boss and former Manchester United stalwart Jaap Stam could be in the frame having had a superb first term in Berkshire.
Reading defender Chris Gunter said: “He could go anywhere [as a manager] really, which is worrying for us. He is the best manager I have ever worked under in club football. He’s been unbelievable.”
Unsettling for the players and manager perhaps. More welcome for the fans.
2. The players are brushing off the poor form
The Irons Manuel Lanzini, who has been in fine form of late, told West Ham’s official website : “It’s true that we didn’t play well at Bournemouth in our last away game, when things didn’t really come off for us, despite the fact we knew they would press us very high.
“If you look at the games before that, we played well against West Brom and Watford, so I think we have been improving overall.”
At best a debatable point.
3. Could Johan Djourou be on his way to east London?
Could former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou be headed for east London? The Swiss international will be out of contract at HSV in the Bundesliga in the summer and is known to be on the Irons’ radar.
But he’s taken the trouble to go a bit further, speaking out about his unsettled position to German media on Friday, March 24.
He said: “I realise I’m in a difficult situation. The club brought in two new defenders. That’s why I wanted to leave in January. I had offers. They said ‘No, we need you. You’re so important to us,’ and then I don’t play anyway.”
4. Andy Carroll still has a point to prove
After being mocked by former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan on Twitter for having “the grace and mobility of a War Horse” in response to a tweet by ex-Hammer Dean Ashton, the Hull game might be further space for the injury-plagued striker to shine.
Ashton thinks there’s space in an England side for Andy. He still needs to show Gareth Southgate what he’s made of.
5. Could this be Sofiane Feghouli’s time
Following a troubled start to his east London account, the Algerian international says he’s now got to grips with the rigours of the Premier League. He’s even managed to score a couple in recent appearances.
“I’m happy to be playing,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get back on the pitch, after spending quite a while out of the team. I’m very pleased to be playing again regularly.”
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