Premier League 2 returns
Edimilson Fernandes, Reece Oxford and Domingos Quina will be the star turns as West Ham United return to Premier League 2 action on Friday evening.
A bumper crowd is expected at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium as the Hammers resume their Division Two campaign with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Terry Westley is also expected to field the in-form Toni Martinez, who has netted an outstanding five goals in four appearances in Premier League 2 and the EFL Trophy.
The Spanish striker – signed in the summer from Valencia – will have a strong team behind him, including Switzerland U21 midfielder Fernandes, England U20 star Oxford and Portuguese European U17 Championship winner Quina, exciting attackers Marcus Browne and Grady Diangana and Ireland U19 centre-half Declan Rice.
Admission is FREE for Season Ticket Holders and just £5 for Adults and £3 for Concessions otherwise, so what better way to spend your Friday evening?
While it would be foolish to suggest that the return of Dimitri Payet guarantees West Ham will enjoy a thumping win over Watford on Saturday, his presence will certainly give the Hammers a boost.
According to his manager Slaven Bilic, the France playmaker not only creates and takes chances for himself, but he also makes his teammates better – the mark of a truly top-class player.
Last season, the 29-year-old chalked up nine goals and 12 assists in just 30 Premier League appearances, while his 120 key passes and 192 crosses were the second and third-highest in the division respectively.
It is stating the obvious, but West Ham are a better, more threatening – and, judging by the training ground photos of him laughing with captain Mark Noble – happier team with Dimitri Payet than without.
For the first time this season, West Ham will play a match kicking-off at the traditional time of 3pm on a Saturday.
With another 57,000 sell-out at London Stadium, the stage is set for a proper family day out for Hammers of all ages, with concourses open from 1pm.
The weather forecast is not perfect, with the possibility of light rain, but temperatures of 21C (70F) are just about right for football.
So, the message to every West Ham – and Watford – fan in attendance is to arrive early and enjoy yourselves!
Like West Ham, Watford have endured a testing start to 2016/17 fixture-wise, facing two of the Premier League’s top guns in Chelsea and Arsenal and being knocked out of a cup competition by unfancied opposition – namely Gillingham in the EFL Cup second round.
Like West Ham, the Hornets will feel their season starts for real now the first international break has been and gone.
New coach Walter Mazzarri has a large and cosmopolitan squad at his disposal full of full internationals, a pair of potent strikers and an Argentine playmaker in Roberto Pereyra who will be key to opening up the Hammers’ defence.
With such a big group of players to pick from, Watford’s team selection and tactics will be difficult to anticipate, but Slaven Bilic and his players can expect a far tougher test than they got from the soon-to-be FA Cup semi-finalists back in April.
As will be the case with every Italian striker who follows in Paolo Di Canio’s footsteps to east London, Simone Zaza’s signing has caught the imagination of the Claret and Blue Army since completing his loan signing from Juventus.
The shaven-headed, bearded forward is something of a man of mystery to many West Ham fans, who know little more of him than his missed penalty at Euro 2016, his clinical finish to win the Betway Cup, and his clinical training ground finishes which have generated plenty of excitement on social media.
Zaza looks set to lead the line in Claret and Blue for the first time on Saturday, with anticipation high over what the former Sassuolo man will bring to Slaven Bilic’s side.