West Ham have been a bit "Sunderland-y" with their start to the campaign and people are saying the change of stadium is a major factor. Is it that simple or is there more at play?
Ha, that's probably the best way to put it. I don't think the stadium has anything to do with it, and the timing of it means it will be used as an easy cop out for the remainder/most of the season in; "troubles bedding into their new stadium" in terms of the players, management and fans. I don't buy it, and, really, I doubt many really buy into the stadium having anything to do with our early season woes.
Given the start to the season is anyone starting to question Slaven Billic or does he still have the backing of most fans?
I think some have throughout the start to the season. It's by and large, warranted. Our problem this season has been personnel, formations and most of all, tactics. Granted you have to factor in the injuries to key players we've had. I think his brutal honesty on his position and the performances thus far has meant most fans will keep faith with him as we all know he can do it.
A win last week against Crystal Palace must have settled a few nerves and a win on Saturday will make everyone wonder what they ever worried about. Do you think the team will settle and go on to have a decent season or will it continue to be a bit difficult?
A win on Saturday would put the knee-jerk reaction to our start seem rather pitiful. We've played badly, now we're starting to play well and are close to having a fully fit squad - something, we've basically not had all season. As much as it can, obviously, I mean Aaron Cresswell's return was much needed to balance and settle the team - then he picked up one of the worst red cards I've seen. With no fit left backs again it'll mean the eleven will have to be turned on it's head again. So, I guess it'll carry on being difficult!
When we spoke back in February you were fairly positive about the move to the Olympic/London Stadium, saying it "can only be a good thing." Is that still the feeling or do you now think your initial dubious thoughts were correct?
Yeah. It can only be a good thing. Sure, there are problems across the board with it, but it's a massive stadium which was always going to have problems upon moving in. Will the seating/crowd/stewarding/crowd controlling be the same next season? Of course not, they'll have figured out how to run it on matchdays. Something they can only do through physically doing it. Practice makes perfect.
Our defence is shocking and, despite some bad results, your team is pretty dangerous going forward. Who do you think will cause us the most problems on Saturday?
Hopefully, Zaza. He has been absolutely slated for the most part. But, he looked like a man who knew he had to turn it on if he wants any chance of earning a permanent move to us. He just needs a goal, then we may see the same player who Juventus signed. I'll go with a curveball answer and say Lanzini over the obvious answer from our midfield!
Following on from that, who do you "fear" the most in the Sunderland side, if anyone?
It's partially down to a gypsy curse put on us in which EVERY ex-player (even those of the most tentative nature) so, by that feeble logic, it has to be Jermain Defoe. Plus he's a bloody good striker.
How do you reckon Billic will approach this game and how do you see him lining you up?
I have no idea. Most likely, Arbeloa will come in, and he and Antonio will be our fullbacks. I'd quite like to see us utilise the 3-5-2 again as we did against Palace, but Arbeloa as a wingback doesn't fill me with confidence. The midfield has to keep Obiang in it. Up front it'll be Zaza unless Ayew's return to training has gone a lot better than expected. Or, Diafra Sakho has returned from the abyss.
Let's have a prediction as well.
I don't want to get too optimistic as of yet...but...I'll go for a 2-1 West Ham.
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