Pellegrini wants Europe next

Manuel Pellegrini wants West Ham to challenge for Europe next season.

Despite inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham in their new home last weekend, finishing seventh appears beyond the Hammers this term.

Pellegrini wants to target a top-ten finish this season and he'll aim to build on that next season.

Pellegrini has never failed to qualify for European competition during his time managing in Europe, having achieved it with Villarreal and Malaga as well as Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Following last season's relegation battle, he says it's clear West Ham have taken a big stride forward this season.

West Ham currently occupy 11th spot of Saturday's visit of Southampton, four points behind Watford who they face on the last day of the season.

"It's very important," he said. "It will be better for the club because if you compare it with last season, you have improved.

"I have enjoyed my first season here very much. I came to a big club and the Premier League is the best in the world so to return here, I am happy.

"But I also want to do better. This is my first time in Europe that I have not qualified for European competitions so I hope next season we will do it.

"Realistically, when you have 60,000 people behind you, this is a big club. Maybe you cannot compete with other clubs with money, but there are other ways to reduce the distance."

West Ham are 6/5 to defeat Southampton, with Saints 21/10 and the draw priced at 5/2 for the London Stadium clash.

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Spurs suffer top-four blow

Tottenham's chances of finishing the season in the top-four of the Premier League suffered a blow after a first defeat at their new stadium.

West Ham won the London derby 1-0 thanks to a well taken goal from Michail Antonio and it leaves Spurs still needing points to be sure of Champions League football again next season.

Mauricio Pochettino's side stay third in the table but Chelsea and Arsenal are just three and four points behind respectively with a game in hand.

Pochettino admitted his side were in a fight for the top-four and conceded there were aspects of his side's play which weren't good enough against the Hammers.

He said after the game: "I think we did not manage the ball properly. It was a difficult game but in the second half we conceded a lot of space for them to counter attack. But we need to look forward. We cannot stop to think about what we did not do today.

"We can't dominate like against Brighton, first half was good but we lost the ball too easily in the second half. We arrived for this game in a different condition and that was an important factor in the second half. It was really tough today."

The result was however a boost for West Ham who recovered after a run of four games without a win. The three points means they remain 11th in the table, representing a reasonable first season in charge for Mauel Pellegrini.

Spurs meanwhile put their top-four ambitions on hold in midweek as they begin their quest for a place in this season's Champions League final.

They are back at home on Tuesday night when Ajax visit in the first-leg of their semi-final. Spurs are 6/5 to win the home leg with Ajax 21/10 and the draw is 12/5.

Spurs are 4/1 to win the Champions League while Barcelona, playing Liverpool in the other semi-final, are 6/4.

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Premier League: Hammers bid to end Old Trafford hoodoo

Manchester United vs West Ham United

After a spirited but ultimately fruitless display against Barcelona in midweek, it’s back to the Premier League for Manchester United and they have work to do.

Few if any us fans would have given them a chance of a top four finish before Christmas but the form since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – initially as interim manager and now full-time boss – has lifted spirits.

Even accounting for two defeats in the last three league matches (four in five in all competitions), United can claim a Champions League qualifying berth.

But they need to return to winning ways immediately.

Nothing more than three points against West Ham at Old Trafford will be acceptable.

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Talking Points

Premier League highlights have been few and far between for both sides recently, West Ham also going down to defeat earlier this week.

Yet one of their best results of the campaign came back in late September when they had too much in a dynamic showing which consigned United to their worst top flight start for 29 years.

On saying that, United were listless that afternoon and Solskjaer will not expect a repeat given what is now at stake.

His preparation won’t be helped by the absence of both his first choice full-backs, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young who are suspended.

While Mateo Darmian would normally be expected to fill either role, he is injured and club captain Antonio Valencia seemingly on the way out.

That leaves the door open for Diogo Dalot, the talented Portuguese youngster who has impressed, and Marcos Rojo, who was on the bench in midweek in Europe.

A lack of match practice for Rojo, however, could see Dalot play left-back with Phil Jones coming in on the right-hand side.

West Ham will seek a league double and have far more than pride to play.

They know finishing in seventh position could open the door for a Europa League place themselves. They are currently five points adrift and boss Manuel Pellegrini hasn’t ruled it out, even if the Chilean tactician admits a long season is catching up on some of his players.

He has certainly steadied the ship in east London this term, improving their home form and making the Olympic Stadium a far happier place than a year ago, yet on the road their form has been terrible.

Indeed, not since December 27 at Southampton have the Hammers taken all three points on their travels.

In their defence, they have struggled with a number of long-term absentees with the injury-prone Andy Carroll seeming to have played his last game for the club and defender Fabian Balbuena only returning this week after being out since December with a knee injury.

West Ham United are hoping to win once more against match favourite Manchester United in Premier League

Javier Hernandez celebrate after scoring a goal

The match will see former United favourite Javier Hernandez return to Old Trafford and he will be afforded a warm welcome, although he will hope he is given more service than he’s received most of the campaign.

History

When these clubs met last season there was a genuine air of excitement that United were ready to mount a title challenge after a successful first season with Jose Mourinho at the helm.

It showed in the performance too as United romped to a 4-0 opening weekend of the season victory, courtesy of goals from debutant Romelu Lukaku (two), Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.

The goalless draw the sides payed played out in London in the penultimate league game of the season last May confirmed United in the runners-up spot.

West Ham were 3-1 winners at home earlier this season, thanks to goals from Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and an own goal.

Marcus Rashford replied for the Red Devils.

West Ham last won at Old Trafford in May 2007 when a certain Carlos Tevez scored the goal to keep the Hammers up against the already crowned league champions.

Betting Tip

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Manchester United vs West Ham United Manchester United, Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.12
April 14, 12:30 (GMT+8)

Premier League betting odds strongly favour United.

They are priced 1X2 @ 1.40 with the draw @ 4.50 and the Hammers well adrift @ 7.60.

Should West Ham get a positive result, there is an attractive Double Chance bet – West Ham or Draw will pay out @ 2.81.

Goals are normal between these sides and there’s room for a small profit with total goal 2-3 @ 2.12, total goal 4-6 @ 2.55 and over 3.25 goals @ 2.16.

If the Hammers turn on the style or prove a real match – as they so often do in the big games – Asian Handicap West Ham +1.00 @ 2.44 will have caught your eye.

In contrast, a repeat of last season’s comprehensive home victory – correct score 4-0 – offers you a payday @ 18.50.

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?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Premier League: Chelsea Can’t Afford London Derby Slip-up

Chelsea vs West Ham United

London will be quite busy this weekend as Wembley plays host to the FA Cup semi-finals. But soon after, another big Premier League clash is set to take the city by storm. That match, of course, is the London derby between Chelsea and West Ham United.

Chelsea are still right in the thick of the race for the fourth and final Champions League place and can’t afford to drop any more points. Meanwhile, the Hammers are smack dab in the middle of the table and are might just be waiting to get the season over with.

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Talking Points

Blues much better at the Bridge

Chelsea are coming off another convincing home performance in midweek as they battered Brighton, 3-0. Callum Hudson-Odoi was handed his first-ever Premier League start, while Olivier Giroud also got a rare chance to play in the first XI.

Both made the most of their opportunity as they connected for the first goal. Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek then combined for their other two goals.

The Brighton result highlights why Chelsea’s Premier League 2019 betting odds tend to be markedly better at Stamford Bridge. They have lost just once at home in the league all season, and have also won four of their last five on home soil. Their last home defeat in all competitions was against Manchester United in the FA Cup back in February.

On the other hand, their away form has been awful. They’ve lost four of their last six, with their two wins coming against a couple of teams in the relegation zone (Fulham and Cardiff).

With Giroud in decent goalscoring form of late — he has five goals in his last 10 games for club and country — it will be interesting to see whether Maurizio Sarri continues to start him over Gonzalo Higuain.

Sarri’s team selection might be the biggest factor in this match. The logical move would be for him to stick with Giroud and Hudson-Odoi, but Sarri said he still doesn’t know if the teenager will keep his place in the first XI against West Ham.

Even if Sarri doesn’t go with what appears to be his optimum starting lineup, Chelsea might still get the win given their strong home form. Although, it might not be as comfortable as it probably should be considering their advantages.

Inconsistent Hammers

There are still six matches left to go in the season, but West Ham might already in offseason mode. That certainly seemed to be the case after seeing their disastrous display in their 2-0 home defeat against Everton, which manager Manuel Pellegrini labelled as their worst performance of the season.

West Ham United eye to upset the Premier League odds when they Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

West Ham United eye to upset the Premier League odds when they Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Their previous two results also raised similar red flags. After losing 2-0 to likely-to-be-relegated Cardiff, they went 3-1 down against bottom club Huddersfield. Although they did battle back to win 4-3, giving up three goals to a side that had scored just 15 goals all season was quite concerning.

The fact of the matter is that West Ham don’t really have much to play for anymore this season. They’re currently 11th with 42 points and don’t have much incentive to go up any higher. Perhaps the fact that this is a London derby can provide a much-needed spark to their performance.

However, it should be noted that the Hammers’ Premier League 2019 results away from home have been awful of late. They’ve lost five of their last six away matches in the Premier League, scoring just one goal during that span.

Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic are also doubtful to feature due to injury. Their potential absence obviously won’t do the Hammers’ chances of rediscovering the back of the net any good.

History

West Ham have had decent success against Chelsea in recent seasons. In their last seven meetings, the Hammers have lost just once, with two wins and three draws.

However, it’s been a completely different story at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have gone undefeated in their last 12 Premier League home matches against West Ham, with eight wins and four draws.

Moreover, recent matches between the two have generally been closely contested. The last time a team has won by more than two goals was Chelsea at home back in 2014. There have also been three goals or fewer in each of the last 12 games between the two.

Betting Tip

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Chelsea vs West Ham United Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.12
April 09, 03:00 (GMT+8)

As recent history has shown, there don’t seem to be too many goals when these two teams meet. And based on current form, it’s unlikely that that will change in this upcoming meeting. That’s why 2-3 total goals at 2.12 seems like a nice bet.

Chelsea are tied with Liverpool for the best home defence, conceding just 10 goals in 16 matches. Meanwhile, the Hammers have been pretty hapless in front of goal away from home and could be without their top two attacking weapons.

And on the other side, Chelsea should still be good for at least a couple of goals to win the match quite comfortably in the end.

us odds also have Chelsea -1.50 on the Asian handicap market priced at 1.89 if you’re so inclined to wager that way.

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Pellegrini makes call for support

West Ham star Marko Arnautovic needs more support according to Irons head coach Manuel Pellegrini, with the forward without a goal in his last eight club games.

The 29-year-old Austria international had already netted seven Premier League goals by early January, but has been unable to add to his tally since then.

That loss of form has coincided with a struggle to overcome a niggling knee injury, as well as Arnautovic having looked set to leave the Hammers to head to China.

However, Pellegrini feels the time is right for everyone associated with the club to join together and aid Arnautovic in his efforts to end the season on a positive note.

The Chilean admitted. "The fans are not happy, Marko is not happy, but this happens to players when they are not in their best moment.

"They need support more than punishment. Marko wants to do things better, he is absolutely involved with our team – China is over.

"Anyone thinking Marko doesn't want to be here, they are wrong. I repeat he is not in a good moment – he doesn't have the same support of the fans that he had six months ago, but with work and the right mentality then he will return."

Arnautovic and West Ham are back in action on Monday evening, when they make a visit to Stamford Bridge to take on capital rivals Chelsea.

The Irons are 17/2 to win the game, with Arnautovic priced at 3/1 to score at any time, while the Blues are available at 8/1 to secure a 1-0 victory.

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Pellegrini has decisions to make

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has revealed that former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere will return to training next week.

Wilshere has not been able to take part in full training since December but could be involved in the first-team squad before the end of the campaign.

Former Manchester City boss Pellegrini said: "Next week Jack Wilshere will start working with the squad and after that we will have six games where we have to decide a lot of things."

Samir Nasri could miss Saturday's mid-table clash against Everton with a calf problem while Andy Carroll is still sidelined due to an ankle injury as the Hammers attempt to make it four victories in a row on home soil.

"In most of those games we won at home the atmosphere was very good. Fans were enjoying the game, they were all involved, supporting the team," added Pellegrini.

"Maybe the fans all realise this team needs a big stadium. The old stadium I know was a beautiful stadium but it was too small for this team.

"Just 32,000 people is not enough for West Ham – now we have 60,000 people at every game we play. Maybe they understand and also they are creating the atmosphere that we see in every game."

West Ham, 8/11 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season, can be backed at 31/20 to beat Everton on Saturday.

Pellegrini: Home form is key

Manuel Pellegrini believes West Ham United's home form will be crucial in the last few weeks of the season as they attempt to earn a place in the Europa League.

The ninth-placed Hammers host Everton on Saturday – a team that are only two points and two places below them in the table.

Pellegrini's side had to come from 3-1 behind to beat rock-bottom Huddersfield Town 4-3 in their last match while Everton clinched an impressive 2-0 win against Chelsea a fortnight ago.

Pellegrini, who has revealed that Samir Nasri has a calf problem which could force him to miss this weekend's match, said: "We need to play at home against a team that are two points behind us.

"We will need to play a very good game and win another three points at home if we want to fight for that European spot next season. It's between four or five teams, so it's important to continue our home form.

"We've improved in the second part of the season. We've lost important points at home at times, but we must continue trying to adding points here. If we win our next three games at home, maybe it will be a successful season."

West Ham can be backed at 7/5 to beat Everton while they are available at 6/1 to score a penalty in Saturday's match.

Arnautovic set for Irons start

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini has dropped a major hint that forward Marko Arnautovic will start the Premier League game against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Austria international, who has scored seven Premier League goals so far this season, has not begun a game for the Hammers since the 3-0 defeat at Wolves at the end of January.

However, Pellegrini is preparing to recall Arnautovic for the visit of the rock-bottom Terriers to the London Stadium, with the hosts looking to consolidate their position in the top half of the Premier League standings.

He told reporters at his pre-match briefing: "Marko was out of the team for several reasons, first because his mind was out when he had the option to go to China.

"After that he returned and he didn't work for about a week, so he needed some time to recover his performance.

"After that he was sick and was going to start against Manchester City, but he felt bad on the day.

"They are the reasons why he's started on the bench, but he's ready to return to his (starting) position."

Earlier this season the Irons earned a 1-1 draw against Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium, with Felipe Anderson cancelling out an early opener for the hosts from Alex Pritchard.

West Ham are available at 8/15 to win the game on Saturday, with Arnautovic priced at 13/10 to score at any time in the match.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini's side are 4/5 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table come the end of the season.

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Pellegrini welcomes tough choice

West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is pleased to have a number of attacking options to choose from as he aims to help his side finish the season on a positive note.

The Hammers have lost just one of their last five Premier League games and that was a narrow 1-0 reverse at reigning champions Manchester City.

And Pellegrini had been pleased with the form shown by Javier Hernandez, while he is delighted to have Marko Arnautovic fully recovered from injury and challenging for a starting spot.

Ahead of a Saturday trip to take on Cardiff City, the Chilean told reporters: "Javier is in a good moment – his commitment with the team, he is making good movements in attack.

"Maybe, as with all other strikers, they want to score more goals, but he is involved in the play that allows us to score.

"We also have now coming back Marko Arnautovic, so I think we also have an option also not only in the starting eleven, but we have important options on the bench also.

"I always say for a manager it is more difficult when you don't have players (to choose from). Having good options for me is a solution, not a problem."

Arnautovic and Hernandez both started when the Bluebirds were beaten 3-1 at the London Stadium earlier this season.

The Irons can be backed at 21/20 to claim all three points at the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend, with the draw priced at 23/10, while Arnautovic is available at 8/5 to score at any time in the game.

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Pellegrini won’t write off Wilshere

West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini remains hopeful that Jack Wilshere will be able to return to action before the end of the season.

Pellegrini signed Wilshere last summer but the former Arsenal midfielder has started just four Premier League games for the Hammers this season because of two ankle injuries.

The 27-year-old has not played since December and recent reports have indicated that he has suffered several setbacks in his recovery and will sit out the remainder of the campaign.

He has not yet been able to return to training but Pellegrini remains upbeat and hopes the England international will be back to full-fitness before the season ends in May.

"We must wait for Jack when he comes back and how he feels," said the former Manchester City and Malaga boss. "Those [reports] are all rumours we cannot confirm 100 per cent.

"Will he feature again this season? Just resting a couple of months will not be easy for him to recover his best shape as a player but the important thing for me is that he must feel that he is OK, has no pain in his ankle. After that, we will see what happens with him."

Meanwhile, Pellegrini has Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell available again for this weekend's trip to Newcastle United after they missed the midweek defeat to Manchester City.

However, Fabian Balbuena will once again miss out although he is expected to be available for the game against Cardiff City later this month.

West Ham, 8/13 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season, are 23/20 to beat Newcastle on Saturday and 8/1 to win the match from behind.