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West Ham United 2022-23 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

:Headline: West Ham United 2022-23 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player:
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to West Ham United's 2022-23 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.
Sports Mole

West Ham United will be looking to build on a memorable 2021-22 season, although they are having to settle for Europa Conference League football in the new campaign.

The Hammers were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Europa League before finishing seventh in the Premier League, one place and nine points worse off than the previous year.

In a bid to challenge for at least a top-six finish, David Moyes has bolstered his squad with four new signings, with the much-needed additions of a centre-back and striker arriving at the club in the form of Nayef Aguerd and Gianluca Scamacca respectively.

With plenty of bubbles and optimism floating around the London Stadium, Sports Mole previews West Ham's 2022-23 campaign and takes an in-depth look at what supporters can expect during the course of the season.


FIXTURES

In a repeat of the 2019-20 campaign, West Ham will begin the new season by welcoming Premier League champions Manchester City to the London Stadium on the opening day.

The Hammers will then make the trip to the City Ground to face newly-promoted Nottingham Forest in their first away game of 2022-23 on August 13, before finishing the month with fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion, Aston Villa and London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Trips to Chelsea and Everton follow in September before visits to Southampton, Liverpool and Manchester United in October.

After a six-week mid-season break for the 2022 World Cup, West Ham will return to action with an away encounter against Arsenal on Boxing Day, before facing Brentford on home soil in their final game of 2021.

The Hammers begin the new year with back-to-back away matches against Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, while London derbies against Chelsea and Spurs, as well as a trip to Man City, will take place in February and March respectively.

Moyes's men are then scheduled to host both Arsenal and Liverpool at a crucial stage of the campaign in April, and Man United will pay a visit to the London Stadium in the first week of May, before West Ham conclude the season with a final-day clash away at Leicester City.

> Click here to see all of West Ham United's 2021-22 fixtures


SUMMER SIGNINGS

In
Nayef Aguerd (£30m, Rennes)
Alphonse Areola (£8m, Paris Saint-Germain)
Flynn Downes (£9.6m, Swansea City)
Gianluca Scamacca (£32.4m, Sassuolo)

Out
Mark Noble (retired)
Andriy Yarmolenko (free, Al-Ain)
Ryan Fredericks (free, Bournemouth)
Nathan Holland (free, MK Dons)
Ossama Ashley (free, Colchester United)
Sonny Perkins (free, Leeds United)
Aji Alese (undisclosed, Sunderland)
David Martin (released)

Total spent to date: £80m
Total received to date: £0m

Net transfer balance: £-80m


SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Lukasz Fabianski, Alphonse Areola, Nathan Trott, Darren Randolph

Defenders: Ben Johnson, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Arthur Masuaku, Nayef Aguerd, Goncalo Cardoso

Midfielders: Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Nikola Vlasic, Flynn Downes, Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek, Conor Coventry, Declan Rice

Forwards: Gianluca Scamacca, Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen


STRONGEST XI


STAR PLAYER - DECLAN RICE

Following the retirement of Mr West Ham Mark Noble, Declan Rice is set to become the club's new captain for the 2022-23 campaign, with the midfielder regarded as a vital cog in Moyes's machine.

The 23-year-old has been targeted by top clubs in the Premier League, but he is expected to stay with the Hammers for at least another 12 months due to his hefty £150m asking price.

Rice, who will be embarking on his sixth year in West Ham's senior side, has adapted his game to operate as a box-to-box midfielder for the East Londoners, and he ended the last campaign with four goals and four assists in 49 appearances.

The 32-cap England international is an influential figure for West Ham both on the pitch and in the dressing room, but if the Hammers are unable to qualify for Europe this term then this could be the final year that supporters see the midfielder in claret and blue.


MANAGER - DAVID MOYES

Since his appointment as West Ham boss, for a second time, in December 2019, David Moyes has transformed the club from fighting relegation to challenging for European silverware, a remarkable feat that the Scotsman should be commended for.

The 59-year-old was unable to steer his side to another top-six finish in the Premier League last season, but the Hammers can be proud of their efforts in the Europa League, reaching the semi-finals in their first European competition for 16 years, as well as progressing to the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

Moyes has been astute in the transfer market since his return to the London Stadium, and this summer has seen the cash splashed on four new arrivals, with at least a couple more expected before the September 1 deadline.

With West Ham's squad looking in better shape than the previous year, Moyes will be optimistic about his side's chances of competing on all fronts this term, with success in the Europa Conference League and qualification for the Champions League via their top-flight position high on the agenda.


LAST SEASON - 7th

West Ham made a strong start to the campaign by claiming two wins and two draws in their opening four Premier League matches, before losing at home to Man United on September 19, with former loanee Jesse Lingard scoring a late winner. However, just three days later the Hammers got their revenge on the Red Devils by beating them 1-0 at Old Trafford in the third round of the EFL Cup.

Success between October and the beginning of November then followed as they won four out of five Premier League fixtures – including home victories against Spurs and Liverpool – as well as defeating perennial EFL Cup winners Man City 5-3 on penalties in the fourth round.

Shortly after beating Chelsea 3-2 in the Premier League in early December, a much-changed, youthful Hammers side lost their final Europa League group-stage match to Dinamo Zagreb, but the result had no bearing on their progression to the knockout rounds as group winners, as they had claimed 13 points from their previous five matches.

After losing 2-1 to Spurs in the EFL Cup quarter-finals, West Ham ended 2021 with a comfortable 4-1 win over Watford, with Mark Noble scoring what proved to be his final goal for the club, before the Hammers began the new year with back-to-back victories over Crystal Palace and Norwich City.

With West Ham considered as one of the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League, their priorities became clear during the second half of the campaign as they won only five of their final 17 Premier League games and lost 3-1 to Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round.

A month after Kurt Zouma was rightly shamed after videos emerged of him kicking his pet cats, West Ham secured a memorable 2-1 aggregate victory over six-time Europa League winners Sevilla in the last 16 in March, with Ukrainian Andriy Yarmolenko scoring an emotional winner at the London Stadium.

Arguably their best performance of the season came away at Lyon when goals from Dawson, Rice and Bowen secured an impressive 3-0 win in France to help Moyes's men progress 4-1 on aggregate into the semi-finals. However, the final four is where West Ham's Europa League journey ended as they were beaten by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 over two legs.

West Ham suffered a 3-1 defeat away at Brighton on the final day of the Premier League season and missed the chance to climb into the top six ahead of Man United, who also lost their final match of the season. The Hammers ended the campaign in seventh place, two points behind the Red Devils in sixth, and will subsequently play in the Europa Conference League in 2022-23.


PREDICTION

Finding a way to balance domestic and European commitments could prove to be West Ham's biggest challenge this season after struggling to do so in 2021-22.

However, Moyes has strengthened his squad well so far this summer and he plans to make further additions, which bodes well for the Hammers as they attempt to compete on all fronts.

West Ham took a number of impressive scalps last season against five of the so-called top-six Premier League teams and against a few established clubs in the Europa League, so they should not be underestimated in their quest to climb back into the top six.

However, a number of other top-flight clubs have also improved over the summer so breaking into the top six could prove challenging. Nevertheless, another seventh-placed finish and a third successive year in Europe should still be commended considering the position they were in roughly two years ago.

VERDICT: 7th


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