Manager's thoughts

With a new manager, West Ham were an unknown quantity last season, bringing about a string of away game victories that were the springboard to their strong season.

This time around, manager Slaven Bilic has lost the element of surprise. As the team head west to a first encounter with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea on Monday (August 15), Bilic believes his rivals will be ready.

Every club is capable of taking on the elite and winning as last season showed.

He told the club’s website : “Our first three away games were Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City – it was kind of a shock.

“But it wasn’t only us. Stoke for example, beat Manchester City and Manchester United at home, Southampton beat Chelsea away, Arsenal at home, Manchester United away.

“It wasn’t only West Ham. It was a strange season. For the big ones, I would say unusual.

“We started it because of the fixtures. So it is not like they underestimated us. Just that smaller clubs improved because of the money, more tactical, but mainly because they had the resources to attract and get better players.

“It will definitely continue this season. The big ones, like you can see in transfer window, some of them have reacted big time with players and managers. It is going to be hard for them again.”

Another secret weapon in the West Ham locker was the low-key signing of one Dimitri Payet who went on to take the league – and then Europe – by storm. Everyone knows about his ability now.

Michail Antonio, left, and Cheikhou Kouyate

Bilic said: “I don’t believe he will be a marked man this season. People are trying to mark great players all their careers because they are great players and can get out of that situation.

“Psychologically it is a big season for him as he will want to repeat what he did last season and we will do everything to help him.”

Payet is a doubt for Monday’s match but one person lined up to start is Andy Carroll, another player facing a big season is Andy Carroll who has had a strong pre-season despite the clamour at the club to land a big-ticket striker.

Bilic said: “What gives us hope is that he has done the whole of pre-season. He only missed a couple of games but we wanted to give him a rest.

“When you want to sign a striker who will score 20 goals season if you look at his stats he can get you that. But the amount of games he was available, it was not 20 but only nine goals.

“It is not tiredness, but his situation that he was not available the whole season. We hope he will be injury free this season.”

Conte's thoughts

Antonio Conte of Chelsea during a press conference at Chelsea Training Ground on August 12, 2016

"I hate losing. When I don’t win, it’s very difficult for me to sleep. At night, I think why is it that we have lost. I need to have a quick reply, for me and the players. I want to find 'Why, why?' Where is the situation that creates more difficulty for us? Who are the players that create more difficulty? Was our tactical plan good or not? I need to have the answers."

Likely sides

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar, Kenedy Remy

West Ham: Adrian; Antonio, Ogbonna, Reid, Byram; Nordtveit; Noble, Feghouli; Payet; Ayew, Carroll

TV times

The match will kick off at 8m on Monday August 15. All of the action will be shown on Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky Sports Ultra HD.


Chelsea to win: 4/7

West Ham to win: 11/2

Draw: 10/3

Last five meetings

Chelsea 2­-2 West Ham (Premier League), March 2016

West Ham 2­-1 Chelsea (Premier League), October 2015

West Ham 0­-1 Chelsea (Premier League), March 2015

Chelsea 2­-0 West Ham (Premier League), December 2014

Chelsea 0­-0 West Ham (Premier League), January 2014