England’s defeat at the hands of Uruguay and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez on Thursday night means that we are now officially out of the World Cup before even stepping out for our final group game in Brazil.
Clutching at straws here, and feel free to call me pessimistic, but at least we managed to avoid all false hope and a guaranteed heartbreaking, gut-wrenching defeat on penalties in the knockout stages of the competition. Nonetheless, England’s exit from the World Cup means that football fans’ attention will switch from a frustrating international competition, to a just as frustrating domestic competition in the coming months.
The 2014/2015 Barclays Premier League fixtures were announced this past Wednesday, and the Hammers have been presented with the exciting prospect of a feisty London derby and a visit from the old enemy, Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn on the opening day.
The club’s impressive treble over the Lilywhites last season is a treble that will live long in the memory, I am sure, for supporters of all ages and experiences at West Ham. Whilst a repeat of these performances and a fourth consecutive win over Spurs would be an absolute dream come true, it’s fair to say we must be realistic and recognise that we will have our work cut out, and will have to put in a brave effort if we are to get anything from our opening fixture.
That said, however, nobody would have expected a single, let alone three, victories over Tottenham in all competitions last season, particularly when you consider the poor form that we found ourselves in for prolonged periods of the campaign. Although the three points in our final home game was a win that I’ll savour for a very long time, the 3-0 drubbing at White Hart Lane is the victory that really stands out for me last season. Regrettably, I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a ticket that day and instead enjoyed my own company and a poor-quality, buffering live stream for ninety minutes – but nevertheless, a game that will live long in the memory.
Under new management from ex-Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, I have no doubt that Spurs will be a very well-drilled side with clear direction come August. With rumours of a move for Adam Lallana still present amongst the media alongside rumours of interest for Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku and in-form Swansea City striker Wilfried Bony, the north London side will certainly prove more of a threat to sides this coming season than they did last season. Despite this, the Hammers also have reason for optimism; the signing of Anderlecht’s 6 foot 4 powerhouse, Cheikhou Kouyate for a reported 9 million euros this week means that the board have acted quickly in strengthening our midfield for the forthcoming season, and the hefty price tag and acquisition of a highly rated, promising midfielder bodes well for the future.
The prospect of Spurs at home on the opening day is one I am thoroughly looking forward to. We have a pretty good record of first day victories in recent times, and I am sure we will all be hoping the squad can replicated the performances we saw against the North London side last season to ensure we get off to a flyer.