Wolves match preview

Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 15 August
Referee: Chris Foy
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• West Ham United kick-off the 2009/10 Barclays Premier League season with a trip to newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

• Gianfranco Zola's side will be looking to carry their away form from last season into the new campaign. The Hammers took more points away from home than anyone else outside the top six.

• Wolves were promoted from the Championship as champions and key to that was a fine run of home form that saw them win 15 and lose just three of their 23 home games.

• West Ham started last season strongly, winning four of their first six games in the league including an opening-day 2-1 win against Wigan Athletic, with Dean Ashton getting both of the goals.

• Wolves will also be hoping to replicate their start to the 2008/09 campaign. After drawing their first game they then went on to win their next seven - the club's best ever start to a league campaign. However, the Hammers will be aware that Wolves have not won their opening fixture of the season since 1999.

• The two sides last met in the league in January 2005 in a Championship encounter at Molineux, which ended in a 4-2 victory for the home side. Of the West Ham players on show that day, Mark Noble, who was making his league debut, is the only player still with the club.

• The game will be Wolves' 39th Premier League fixture in their history. An ill-fated 2003/04 season saw them finish bottom of the table with 33 points.

• West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola said: "It will be very difficult because when you play a promoted team at the beginning of the season they are full of enthusiasm. They will give everything. It will be like a cup final for them but I think we have got enough in the team - I am talking about experience and quality - that we can handle the situation."

• Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said: "I'm really excited about the new season and looking forward to it. I can't wait for it to start because I get sick of all the posturing and dancing around the handbags. Let's get down to it."

West Ham United

• West Ham have been in pretty good form in pre-season after just two defeats in seven matches. Unbeaten in their first four warm-up games, the Hammers lost 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final of the Barclays Asia Trophy before beating Beijing Guoan in the third/fourth play-off. Their final warm-up match last Saturday saw SCC Napoli leave the Boleyn Ground with the Bobby Moore Cup after a 1-0 win.

• Following Saturday's match, West Ham have two mouth-watering home games against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays Premier League and Millwall in the Carling Cup. Tottenham will travel to east London on Sunday 23 August with Millwall arriving two days later. Two away trips in the league follow with Blackburn Rovers on 29 August and Wigan Athletic on 12 September.

• The Hammers finished last season in ninth in the Barclays Premier League with 51 points, a place and two points higher than they managed in the previous season.

• The Hammers have won 6, drawn 1 and lost 7 of their opening Premier League games since its inception in 1992.

• Two 3-1 wins count as their best-ever start to a Premier League season. A 3-1 win at home to Charlton Athletic in 2006 was matched by a defeat of Blackburn Rovers by the same score in 2005

• The biggest opening day defeat came in 2002, when Newcastle United won 4-0 at St James' Park.

• West Ham have not drawn the opening game since 1994, when they drew 0-0 with Leeds United at Elland Road.

• Carlton Cole was West Ham's leading scorer last season with 10 Premier League goals, one in the FA Cup and one in the League Cup.

• Robert Green topped the appearance charts for the last campaign, playing every minute of every Premier League game. He has played 88 consecutive top-flight matches.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

• Wolves also go into the match on the back of some mixed pre-season form. After winning their first three games, Mick McCarthy's side drew one and lost two of their next three. Their two most recent friendlies have seen a 4-2 win at Scunthorpe United and a 2-0 home defeat to Spanish side Real Valladolid.

• Following the Hammers' opener, Wolves travel to Wigan Athletic on Tuesday and then Manchester City the following Saturday.

• Wolves will be hoping to do slightly better than their one and only opening day in the Premier League so far. The midlanders lost 5-1 away at Blackburn Rovers on 16 August 2003.

• Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was the key man for Wolves last season, scoring 25 league goals to help fire his team to the title.

• Right-back Kevin Foley appeared more than any other player, with 45 starts to his name.


• Saturday's referee will be Chris Foy.

• Now 46, Foy started refereeing at the age of 20 in 1983. He joined the Football League list of assistant referees in 1994 and the Premier League assistant referees' list a year later.

• Foy became a Football League referee in 1996 before being promoted to the Premier League list in 2001, taking charge of his first top-flight fixture in December of that year.

• Foy took charge of the 2007 FA Trophy final between Stevenage Borough and Kidderminster Harriers at Wembley on 12 May 2007.

• He returned to the national stadium as fourth official for the 2008 FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Cardiff City before refereeing last season's Carling Cup final between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

• Foy has been actively involved in the 'Don't X The Line' campaign to eradicate abusive or aggressive behaviour from players and spectators at junior and youth matches.

• Foy took charge of three West Ham fixtures last season, refereeing the Hammers' 1-0 defeat at Hull City on 19 October, the 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on 8 December and the 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers on 21 March.

• This will be Foy's second official match of the season after took charge of last weekend's FA Community Shield match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Head to Head

• Although this will be the sides' first encounter in the Premier League, they have met 55 times before. West Ham hold the upper hand with 25 wins. Wolves have emerged victorious on 17 times.

• The last time the two sides met on 15 January 2005, a goal from West Ham old boy Paul Ince helped Wolves to a 4-2 win. Bobby Zamora grabbed both of the Hammers' goals that day.

• That was the only time in the last five meetings that West Ham have lost, as they have won three times.

Last six meetings (league unless stated)

15 January 2005 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-2 West Ham United
2 October 2004 - West Ham United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
25 January 2004 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-3 West Ham United (FA Cup)
6 March 1993 - West Ham United 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
4 October 1992 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-0 West Ham United

Last time out

Saturday 15 August
Bobby Moore Cup

West Ham United 0-1 SCC Napoli

West Ham United:
Green, Faubert (Spector 63), Tomkins (Collins 46), Upson (Gabbidon 80), Ilunga, Noble, Parker, Collison (Hines 88), Jimenez (Stanislas 77), Dyer (Savio 63), Cole
Subs unused: Stech, Kurucz, Daprela, Payne, Lee, Nouble

Saturday 8 August
Pre-season friendly
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Real Valladolid

Wolverhampton Wanderers:
Hennessey, Foley (Halford 45), Stearman, Craddock, Ward (Elokobi 68), Edwards, Henry, Milijas (Jones 72), Ebanks-Blake (Doyle 60, Vokes 82), Keogh, Jarvis (Surman 65)
Subs unused: Hahnemann, Ikeme, Friend, Zubar, Collins, Hill,

Team news

• Gianfranco Zola has a fit squad to choose from and could hand Danny Gabbidon his first Premier League appearance for 18 months. The defender has looked strong in pre-season after overcoming abdominal and back injuries.

• Luis Jimenez is set to get his first taste of Premier League football since arriving on a season-long loan deal from Internazionale.

• It remains to be seen whether Radoslav Kovac will make his debut after signing a permanent deal from Spartak Moscow on Friday. The same applies to young defender Fabio Daprela, who has only had just over a week's training with his new team-mates after arriving from Grasshopper Club Zurich.

• Only long-term absentees Valon Behrami, Luis Boa Morte, Terry Dixon and Dean Ashton will miss out. Switzerland midfielder Behrami has been working hard at Chadwell Heath as he continues his recovery from the cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered against Manchester City on 1 March. Such is his progress that he could be back in training at the end of the month.

• Terry Dixon is also progressing well and could join Behrami in training at the end of the month.

• Boa Morte is recovering after undergoing knee surgery in Portugal and is yet to begin his rehabilitation work. A New Year return has been pencilled in for the midfielder.

• Dean Ashton continues to work on his fitness as he recovers from an ankle injury.

• Wolves are expected to start with on-loan Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne - who partnered James Tomkins in a midweek England Under-21 contest in the Netherlands - as Christophe Berra suffered a hamstring strain playing for Scotland in midweek.

• There is still hope that record signing record signing Kevin Doyle will also recover from a groin injury in time to play.

• Carlton Cole spent two months on loan at Wolves at the end of 2003, where he made seven appearances, scoring one goal.

• Nigel Quashie spent the tail end of the 2008/09 season on loan at Molineux, playing three games.

• First-team coach Kevin Keen played 42 times for Wolves after leaving West Ham in 1993. Click here for more

Travel information

• For directions for Molineux, click here

General information

• Tickets for this match have sold out. For ticket information click here.

• Saturday's weather forecast is for a slightly overcast day with a maximum daytime temperature of 22C.