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Season preview: West Ham United

Sports Mole assesses West Ham United and their prospects for the new Premier League season.

With the new Premier League season beginning this weekend, Sports Mole has cast its eye over West Ham's summer and their prospects for the 2013-14 campaign.

In:

Adrian (Real Betis, Free), Andy Carroll (Liverpool, £15m), Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk, Free), Danny Whitehead (Stockport County, Undisclosed)

Out:

Robert Hall (Bolton Wanderers, Compensation yet to be agreed), Jake Larkins (Leyton Orient, Free), Carlton Cole (Released), Gary O'Neil (Released), Jack Powell (Released), Jami Rafati (Released), Eoin Wearen (Released)

Last Season: 10th

Manager: Sam Allardyce

Three key players:


Jussi Jaaskelainen© PA Photos
Jussi Jaaskelainen - The veteran Finnish goalkeeper has been a fixture in the Premier League for over 15 years now, but he still has plenty to offer between the sticks. Despite being 38 years old, Jaaskelainen continued to defy the shadowy spectre of retirement last season as the Hammers secured a top-half finish in the table. He is still perfectly agile and provides a much-needed sense of security at the back. One of the most consistent performers in the history of the league, he will an be important, yet unsung, part of the club's upcoming campaign.


Kevin Nolan© PA Photos
Kevin Nolan - While other midfielders such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have lapped up the plaudits down the years, Kevin Nolan has been a superb servant wherever he has played. In a West Ham team littered with youngsters, the 31-year-old's experience is invaluable. A player with little fear, Nolan has been mixing it up in the Premier League for over a decade and knows exactly what it takes to win matches. Let's not forget his eye for goal either: Ten strikes last season tells you that he is as handy as ever in the final third.


Andy Carroll of West Ham United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion on March 30, 2013© Getty Images
Andy Carroll - West Ham parted with a club-record £15m over the summer to make Andy Carroll's move from Liverpool permanent following a successful loan spell last season. The transfer could be considered something of a gamble because the striker certainly has a history of injury problems. However, when he is on top form the England international is an absolute brute. There are few frontmen with the sheer strength and power of Carroll, but it must be remembered that he also has a tidy pair of feet that come alive in the penalty area.


First game: Cardiff City (H), Complete fixture list

Sports Mole says: Few could have predicted last summer that West Ham United would go on to secure a 10th-placed finish on their return to the Premier League. Because of that, expectations will be huge at Upton Park during the new campaign, but the club is in a safe pair of hands with Sam Allardyce at the helm. It won't always be pretty this season, but you can be sure that the Hammers will make themselves very hard to beat and, if they can keep Andy Carroll fit, then they could cause a stir in the top half of the table again.

Predicted finish: 9th

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Hammers chairman David Gold at Upton Park on September 25, 2012
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Gold delighted with Carroll, Downing fees
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