Premier League is back at the London Stadium as West Ham host Wolverhampton Wanderers in their opening game of the resumed season.
West Ham welcome Wolves on June 20 as they restart their fight for survival in the next nine games in the Premier League. Aston Villa’s goalless draw against Sheffield United at home means that the Hammers are placed 16th in the table. Meanwhile, Wolves dropped to seventh ahead of their visit to London as Sheffield leapfrog them to the sixth position.
Here are five key head to head battles that could decide the fate of the match on Saturday:
Sebastien Haller vs Raul Jimenez
Newly joined striker Sebastien Haller hasn’t really fired for the Hammers so far in the Premier League. He joined West Ham on a five-year deal for a club-record fee. He has scored just seven goals this season, which a worrying stat for a striker bought to score a lot of goals. However, the Frenchman will be itching to get his mojo back after the lockdown and is crucial for West Ham’s survival hopes.
Raul Jimenez joined Wolves from Benfica last year after making his loan move permanent. He has played all 29 games under Esperito Santo and has scored 13 goals in the Premier League. He is leading the frontline for the Wolves this season and Nuno will expect him to continue doing the same in an important away game for their Europe hopes.
Mark Noble vs Joao Moutinho
Mark Noble is an undisputed starter under Moyes and is very likely to start the game against Wolves. The 33-year-old veteran midfielder has spent his entire career playing for West Ham and is spending his 16th season with the Hammers. He has made over 500 appearances for West Ham and is still an integral part of the squad. He already has notched 4 goals in the league this season and appears ready to make a strong return to football after the break.
Joao Moutinho has featured in all games for Wolves this season. He joined Wolves in 2018 after spending five years with Monaco. He has cemented his place in the starting lineup and will surely feature against West Ham. The Sporting CP academy graduate has featured in all of their league games and will play a key role in Wolves’ push for Europe next season. Moutinho has scored one goal and six assists so far and will be looking to get back strongly.
Declan Rice vs Ruben Neves
What’s common between Declan Rice and Ruben Neves? Both were Manchester United’s transfer targets at some point in time. Declan Rice has been a key figure in Moyes’ squad and his tireless attitude and fantastic work-rate makes him a fan favourite at London Stadium. It will be interesting to see him faceoff against Neves in the middle of the park.
Neves has probably been Wolves’ best player under Nuno Esperito Santo and has really proven his worth, showcasing his passing skills and putting in a great defensive display as well. He has been an integral part of the club since 2017 as he helped his side gain promotion to the top-flight in his first season. A faceoff between the number 6s of both teams will be interesting to see.
Issa Diop vs Conor Coady
The 23-year-old French defender Issa Diop quickly became a fan favourite at the London Stadium after his move from Toulouse in 2018. He has been a regular starter for the team since his arrival. His defensive awareness will be key to stopping Wolves’ counter-attacking play. West Ham desperately needs him on his toes throughout 90 mins if they want to stop Wolves.
Conor Coady has been a regular starter for Wolves since his arrival from Huddersfield Town in 2015. The Englishman has really matured into an able and physically imposing defender and is adept at tackles and aerials. The defender will have to deal with the attacking duo of West Ham.
Michail Antonio vs Adama Traore
The Englishman Michail Antonio isn’t a regular starter this season but he ha started many games alongside Haller. He has formed a good partnership with Haller and has four goals contributions in 10 starts for the Hammers. It’ll be a tough task for the 30-year-old to come up against a strong Wolves backline.
The former La Masia graduate, Adama Traore has been explosive this season for the Wolves. He has always performed well against top sides in the league, earning praises from everyone. He has scored four times and assisted seven others in 23 appearances. The Spanish right-winger will be itching to get back on the pitch after a long three months and rearing to unleash his pace and dribbling against the West Ham defence.