Dimitri Payet has been an excellent buy for West Ham, just how important is he to you this season? How long do you see him staying with the club as well? He seems to be loving life there!
Very important is the simple answer. However, when he was out we continued picking up points via (mostly) draws. That was 'okay' at the time, then he returned and we started winning games meaning we almost ended up bettering our PB of an unbeaten run of games in the PL. He makes us tick there's no doubt about it, but I wouldn't go to the extremes of us being a one man team for example.
Honestly, unless there's an offer of 'ridiculous' money for him I can't see him going anywhere. I mean...Him and his family love it here. He's just been rewarded with a new bumper contract. He loves having a song about him. He calls the relationship with the fans a love story. He had to fight back tears when he got a standing ovation on his return from injury. Plus, add in his age, which club is really going to offer a ridiculous amount of money for him?
Outsiders weren't sure how Slaven Bilic would fare this season but West Ham are enjoying a great campaign, does it come as any surprise to the supporters or were you always confident after his appointment?
It was split to be honest. Some were wary of 'would he' 'could he' cut it managing in the PL. But, in stark contrast to our wonderful last manager anyone with the slightest bit of charisma and passion for football would have been welcomed with open arms.
I think the extent of how well he has done is a surprise, but, we have the best squad of players we've had in my lifetime, a manager who exudes and demands passion from the players and that's just helping to showcase the talent of both parties. That said, he's still learning, at times he has shown his naivety with poor tactics in games which we've ended up losing.
I don't think you'd find anyone wishing we still had Allardyce, lets put it that way, ha!
What kind of reception are we likely to see Sam Allardyce receive on his return to Upton Park? It seems that fans are pretty mixed in their feelings towards him.
I've got a feeling he's going to get some serious stick. But he categorically shouldn't. He did everything that was needed. Yes, one of those seasons was a 'throw away' season which was horrific, and our form in the second half of last season was absolutely gutless because of him. But does he deserve the abuse he's most likely going to get? No.
Part of me hopes he gets a mixed response, because that would be what he deserves.
This will be Sunderland's last visit to Upton Park, how do you feel about moving stadiums? Is the Olympic Stadium a good choice?
The owners have always claimed to want to push the club on and get 'bigger'. It was critiqued for a while but the investment into the playing squad, and now this move, well, they've put their money where their mouths are.
At first I was dubious, of course, I love Upton Park. However, moving forward, this is a massive jump. The fact we're inquiring into keeping it at a higher capacity because of ticket demand already tells you everything you need to know. It will be a massive step forward for this club, and, as a consequence, can only really be a good thing!
How do you see yourselves finishing up this season? Top 6 is a huge possibility and you've got a good chance with the FA Cup.
It's a weird one this year. We 'could' finish anything as high as fifth, especially with United's strange form this year and Rooney's new injury. I think top eight should still be the target though, that, and progressing in the FA Cup. A lot of fans truly believe we'll win the FA Cup. I think it's doable, but I don't want to kid myself into that level of optimism just yet!
Are there any Sunderland players you're particularly fearful of?
Defoe. We're horrific with ex-players. He'll score, there's no doubt about it, so you come into this with a handicap of sorts! Also, not a player, but fearful of the horrific faces Sam will pull if (PLEASE NO) you pull off an away win.
Van Aanholt is always a handful and has been in among the goals playing that wingback role, so definitely one to keep an eye on too.
We've already mentioned Payet, of course, but which other Hammers should we be most worried about?
Manuel Lanzini. I don't think he'll start the game as he's only just returning from injury himself, but he is younger than the Frenchman, and in all honesty, really isn't far off Payet's level in my opinion. He is truly something else, when he came on for his cameo at the end up the FA Cup game against Blackburn, his link up play with Payet specifically, and the rest of the team, was borderline pisstaking. It was that good. I will never get my head round how such a talented young Argentine was snapped up by us from the AUE Arabian League. It just makes no sense whatsoever!
Otherwise we've got the sheer raw pace/strength/determination of Michail Antonio, a real workhorse of a player who has played his way up from non-league to the Premier League and is now really enjoying himself on this stage.
How do you see yourselves lining up for the game?
Adrian. Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell. Obiang, Noble. Antonio, Kouyate, Payet. Emenike.
The only debatable positions are whether Antonio will play RB again, or if young Byram will come in. If so, Antonio will go back to the RW, if he plays RB, it will likely be Moses who plays on the right wing.
Finally, a prediction please?
3-1: Emenike, Kouyate, Noble. Jermain Defoe.
Allardyce to attempt an Allardyce 'masterclass' by bringing all attacking players off for defenders straight after a Defoe early goal, and attempting to sit on a 1-0 lead for eighty-nine minutes. You heard it here first.