Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Saturday August 16 2008
Well its finally arrived, 3 pm today and the new season is underway for the Latics.
Following the run in at the end of last season and the close season additions to the squad most Latics fans are optimistic about the coming nine months and a good start to day against a West Ham side that is suffering a little from loss of key players due to injury would help to keep that optimism high.
Latics come into the game on the back of a good string of results in preseason, but Bruce is no mug and he will realise that friendlies count for nothing and the real stuff starts today.
A big blow to the Latics is the injury to Paul Scharner that keeps the Austrian sidelined but Titus Bramble will step up and no doubt do a good job at the heart of Latics defence.
The big question that all Latics fans want answering is will Amr Zaki be in the side from the off, well my guess would be no, you get the feeling that Bruce may feel that he needs another weeks training under his belt.
The Egyptian striker has captured the hearts of the Latics faithful with his enthusiasm and determination do succeed and it wouldn`t be to surprising if he got 30 minutes off the bench
I suspect that Bruce might go for a 4-5-1 initially in this game and then open up a little more as the match wears on, whatever he does and whatever the result today we shouldn`t get carried away for there is another 37 games to go.
Though a 2-1 Latics victory would start the season of very nicely, thank you
West Ham boss Alan Curbishley:
"Wigan turned the corner magnificently last year'
'The second half of their season was very consistent and they'll be looking for a little bit more this year.'
'They have a squad that could perhaps deliver a bit more'
'They're looking for better things than the bottom section of the table."
'It should be an open game.'
Latics boss Steve Bruce:
'We're delighted with what we've done over the summer and we think the squad is even stronger.
'We finished fantastically well and if you look at the teams in there, it was a remarkable run. The fans have higher expectations now and rightly so.
'It's good to see that the ticket sales have gone extremely well because they play their part.'
Anton Fredinand is doubtful with a hamstring, definately out though are Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer, Jonathan Spector, James Collins, George McCartney, Danny Gabbidon and James Tompkins
West Ham from:
Green, Stech, Neill, Ferdinand, Davenport, Etherington, Reid, Faubert, Parker, Noble, Behrami, Boa Morte, Ashton, Mullins, Cole, Sears, Collison, Hines.
One time Latic target is a class act
Paul Scharner, Ryan Taylor and Erik Edman out but Kirkland, Heskey and Koumas declared fit
Kirkland, Nash, Pollitt; Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa, Melchiot, Montrose, Scharner; Brown, Cattermole, De Ridder, Kapo, Kilbane, Koumas, Palacios, Taylor, Valencia; Camara, Heskey, Sibierski, Zaki.
Lets hope that Wilson carries on where he left off last season, El Mago
West Ham United 1-1 Wigan Athletic
25th August 2007
Ref: Andre Marriner
All Previous League Meetings: West Ham 4 wins, Wigan 4, Draws 2
Premier League: West Ham 2 wins, Wigan 3, Draws 1
Steve Bennett (Kent)
Card Watch 2007/08
Reds - 5
Yellows - 101
Heart says Latics win 2-1
Head says 1-1
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Date:Saturday August 16 2008
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