Cresswell, Tomkins, Antonio and Townsend are among the topics for discussion ahead of the Hammers' trip to Selhurst Park...
West Ham United return to Premier League action after a two-week international break eager to end a run of five top-flight matches without a victory.
The Hammers’ indifferent form and results have seen them unexpectedly slip towards the lower reaches of the table, and Slaven Bilic and his players will be desperate to return to winning ways on Saturday.
However, the teatime kick-off at Selhurst Park will be no cakewalk for West Ham, where they face a resurgent Crystal Palace.
Alan Pardew’s side have collected ten points from their last four Premier League matches to climb into the top half and the form guide suggests the Eagles will soar to another three on home turf.
However, this is a London derby, and the form guide will (hopefully) go out of the window…
West Ham fans will likely have reason to cheer come 4.30pm on Saturday, when the official teams and substitutes are announced at Selhurst Park.
Aaron Cresswell’s name is set to be among them, ending a three-month injury absence for the popular left-back, who was hurt in a challenge during a pre-season fixture in Austria back in July.
The No3’s absence has been recognised as one of the reasons for the Hammers’ slow start to 2016/17, and the defender’s return will add solidity and balance to a back four which has conceded 16 goals in seven matches without him.
Alan Pardew may have departed the Boleyn Ground on the back of a terrible run of form that needed a Carlos Tevez-inspired Great Escape to keep West Ham in the Premier League, but his previous achievements will ensure his popularity in east London endures.
As manager, ‘Pards’ led the Hammers to two Play-Off finals, winning the second in 2005, to within seconds of glory in the 2006 FA Cup final, and to a host of exciting Premier League victories during his three-plus years in charge.
Pardew’s win-percentage of 41.1% puts him fourth on the all-time list behind caretaker Sir Trevor Brooking (64.29%), Billy Bonds (43.61%) and Charlie Paynter (41.25%), but his only motivation on Saturday will be to score his fifth win in eleven career matches AGAINST West Ham.
Andros v Antonio
Saturday’s fixture will pit two current England squad members against one another in wingers Andros Townsend and Michail Antonio.
Townsend was involved as a substitute in Tuesday’s goalless World Cup qualifying draw in Slovenia, while Antonio made the trip to Ljubljana for no more than a watching brief.
A look at the statistics shows that the West Ham man has enjoyed the better start to the season, with five goals to Townsend’s one, more shots on goal and an equal number of dribbles attempted, but it is the Palace player who has earned international recognition.
This weekend, Antonio will get the chance to show Gareth Southgate that it is he who should feature for the Three Lions when they face Scotland and Spain in November.
Saturday’s fixture will see James Tomkins face West Ham for the first time since he completed a summer switch to Crystal Palace.
The Basildon-born centre-half has made a fine start to life in south London, helping his side to collect seven points from the four Premier League matches he has featured in, and defeat Blackpool in the EFL Cup second round.
At the age of 27, and after nearly ten years in the West Ham first-team squad, Tomkins felt he needed to leave the club which produced him in search of regular Premier League football, and this weekend he will have the opportunity to show his previous employers exactly what they let go.