The view of the opposition: West Ham v Huddersfield Town
We provide analysis and best bets for the Hammers' first home game of the season against the Terriers on Monday.
David Wagner had no hesitation in labelling his Huddersfield Town side “the biggest underdog of all time in the Premier League” before this season got underway.
So few would have predicted that, by the time West Ham’s first home game rolled around in September, their opponents would still be unbeaten and one of only two teams yet to concede a goal.
It is, however, still very early days, and the Terriers have some way to go before persuading the doubters that their obvious limitations will stop their stay in the top flight from being a brief one.
Huddersfield were the second-lowest scorers in the top half of the Championship last season, and, at the other end, let in nearly 50 per cent more goals than either of the clubs to come up automatically, Newcastle and Brighton.
That unconvincing record meant they became the first team with a negative goal difference to even finish in the play-offs, let alone be promoted to the Premier League.
But, having won four and drawn one of their six games against the three clubs to come up from the Championship last season, West Ham should have no reason to fear the new boys.
Not that it will be easy.
Huddersfield may not have put many teams to the sword last year, but they were rarely blown away, either.
In all, 28 of their matches were decided by just one goal, with two of their heavier defeats coming at the end of the regular season when resting players with a top-six spot assured.
A winning margin of just one goal on Monday night, then, looks an astute bet.
And don’t be surprised if the Hammers have to wait until the second half for the breakthrough, given their visitors went in level at the break in 25 of their matches in all competitions last year.
Quite who might get the decisive strike, though, is a trickier question, with Marko Arnautovic suspended, Andrew Ayew injured and Andy Carroll still returning to full fitness.
One likely candidate is last season’s top scorer, Michail Antonio.
It was he who bagged the winner in a 1-0 win against Bournemouth in West Ham’s first ever league match at the London Stadium and, now fully fit and firing, is a tempting bet to get West Ham up and running in their much-anticipated return.
Half-time/Full-time: Draw/West Ham
Winning margin: 1
West Ham first goalscorer: Michail Antonio