Premier League Season Preview | West Ham Betting Breakdown
DeFodi Images/Getty. Pictured: Conor Coventry.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Rounding things out is a look at West Ham.
West Ham are in Europe for the third consecutive season, which is a major achievement for a club of its stature. The Hammers had a poor league campaign in 2022-23 and briefly flirted with relegation, even though their underlying numbers never suggested they belonged anywhere near that conversation. West Ham won the Europa Conference League, beating Fiorentina in the final to return to the Europa League this season. The Hammers now have the difficult challenge of trying to replace their best player, Declan Rice, after he was sold to Arsenal. Manchester City are also making sizable bids for their second-best player — midfielder Lucas Paqueta.
The names West Ham have targeted to replace Rice’s production don’t offer a ton of optimism about the team in the future. The Hammers lost striker Gianluca Scamacca to Atalanta and as of now, aren’t linked to any forward replacements. Michail Antonio is an aging center forward who saw a significant decline in his numbers last year. It was the main reason for West Ham’s struggles. Some of it was finishing variance, but the attacking output declined from Antonio and Jarrod Bowen considerably.
Antonio consistently put up xG + xA numbers over 0.5 per 90 in years past. But he’s now 33 and last year he dropped to 0.33 xG + xA for the year. He can’t really be relied on for 10+ PL goals this season and there’s no real reinforcements coming in to help.
The midfield solutions to replace Rice are underwhelming too. James Ward-Prowse is the best set piece taker in the league — and West Ham will benefit and likely excel on set pieces as a result. But his open play production is extremely mediocre overall and he doesn’t offer nearly as much passing or ball winning as is needed to try to replace Rice in the aggregate. Edson Alvarez comes in from Ajax and will be a capable destroyer in the center of the park, but he also isn’t going to add much forward passing.
Harry Maguire is a capable center defender, but this West Ham team was one of the older squads in the league last year and wasn’t particularly deep to begin with.
West Ham should remain a capable defense but the attack runs the risk of further regressing toward solidly below average without Rice’s ball carrying and passing in the center. The loss of Paqueta would also be extremely impactful and it may come so close to the end of the window that Moyes is unable to find a suitable replacement in time to help this year.
A Moyes team will always feature a solid defensive floor and that should keep them up in a year with a lot of bad teams, but there’s also the chance Moyes leaves the club if the season starts really poorly.
A comparison to Leicester City would be a little harsh on West Ham, but the Hammers are certainly at risk of running it back one too many times and paying the price for it. Leicester were not one of the three worst teams in the league last year and had more than enough talent to remain in the top flight, but a lack of refreshment in the transfer window, the loss of a few key pieces to sale/injury and general squad stagnation led to their relegation.
Both teams also relied too much for goals on a striker who was clearly starting to decline, and I would not be surprised to see West Ham closer to relegation than the top half of the table again.
Picks: West Ham to finish bottom half (-150 via DraftKings) | West Ham to be relegated (+1200 via DraftKings)