The view of the opposition: West Ham v Bolton
We provide analysis and the best bets for the Hammers' Carabao Cup third-round tie on Tuesday night.
Considering West Ham shared their top-flight status with Bolton for a full 10 years, it is strange to think the clubs were separated by two divisions last season.
That gap has now been cut to one after Wanderers’ promotion from League One, though it looks unlikely to remain that way for long.
A strict transfer embargo – that was lifted on Thursday but had prevented the club from paying a fee for any permanent or loan signings since December 2015 – meant Bolton were unable to do much strengthening over the summer.
As a result, they are currently bottom of the Championship, having failed to win any of their first eight matches.
Worse still, Reece Burke and Josh Cullen – their two loanees from West Ham who have both featured heavily so far this season – are ineligible to face their parent club on Tuesday.
So their chances of an upset at the London Stadium look slim.
Even in the third tier last season, Bolton were far from prolific – ending up with just the joint-fifth highest goals tally at an average of less than 1.5 per game.
And they have not looked any sharper after the summer, failing to score in their last four matches in a row.
Given the Hammers have won their last three cup ties against lower-league opposition – against Cheltenham last month, Accrington last season and Wolves in 2015/16 – to nil, a similar outcome looks likely.
Slaven Bilic’s side should not have to wait too long for the breakthrough, either.
The Trotters have trailed at half-time in five of their first eight league matches – losing all of them – and even found themselves behind at the break when taking on League Two side Crewe in the previous round.
It is the Hammers’ pacier players who are likely to cause the most damage, with neither Mark Beevers nor David Wheater blessed with much pace in the centre of defence.
Wingers Adama Traore and Kamil Grosicki, meanwhile, have shown just how easy it is to get in behind Bolton’s full-backs for both Hull and Middlesbrough in recent weeks.
Javier Hernandez will be relishing the chance to finish off the opportunities that will surely come his way.
West Ham to win to nil –
Half-time/Full-time: West Ham/West Ham –
Javier Hernandez to score West Ham's first goal –