You know that terrible start to the season we`ve had? Well, let`s forget about it for a day, shall we? Let`s go down to the big smoke, try and watch some football from a stand well away from the pitch in a stadium that your tax money paid for and West Ham ended up with on the cheap?
Because that what lies in store tomorrow night. Bolton`s first ever trip to the London Stadium, in the third round of the Carabao Cup. It is a free shot, great if we win, and while losing is always rubbish, there`ll be no real recriminations if we do lose. Phil Parkinson may even shuffle his cards, giving one or two fringe players a go.
“We want to enjoy this occasion. It`s a mental break from the league against a top-flight team. We`re looking forward to it. We`ll enjoy seeing how we compare against a Premier League team at such a fantastic stadium. Expectations are on West Ham to win and we know that. But we need to play well.”
Phil Parkinson in his pre-match presser.
West Ham United Team News:
Mark Noble could be back for West Ham. Slaven Bilic has promised to name a strong team but there will be changes to allow youngsters to get some game time. Andy Carroll is one player that will be rested. James Collins will also be absent after injuring his ankle in Saturday`s game at West Brom.
Player to watch: Javier Hernandez
Is it even worth picking one to watch when you have no idea how they could line up? Anyway, Chicharito was a summer signing. The former Man Utd man has scored a few goals against us when he played for that lot, but has been used as a slightly wider player with Carroll being the central striker in a 3-4-3 in recent games. But if Hernandez does play against us, he may be moved into a position where he will be the focal point of the Hammers attack. Or he could be on the bench. The magic of the cup.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Wanderers will make some changes, as loanees Reece Burke and Josh Cullen won`t be available against their parent club. Ben Alnwick has a neck problem so expect Mark Howard in goal with Jake Turner on the bench for the first time this season. Jack Earing, Ryan White and Harry Brockbank will also all travel to London.
Player to watch: Mark Howard
Howard will almost certainly start in goal. He started the season as the number one, but Ben Alnwick replaced him for the Middlesbrough game and has kept the spot since. Howard`s performances in August weren`t great, so this might be an opportunity for him to bounce back.
Match Facts & Stats
This is our first ever game at the London Stadium, therefore meaning Bolton will have played a game at all 20 current Premier League grounds, and a competitive game at 83 of the 92 current league grounds. (Accrington, Barnet, Burton, Colchester, Forest Green, Morecambe, Newport, Stevenage, Wycombe if I`m right are all to tick off. I`m also sad.)
This our first game against West Ham since we won 3-0 at the Reebok in April 2011. Things were going so well back then. A week later, we lost to Stoke at Wembley, and it all caved in.
It has been just over ten years since we lost to West Ham, April 2007 to be precise, at Upton Park. We have won or drawn all of our meetings since then.
We beat Crewe and Sheffield Wednesday to reach the third round. West Ham entered at round two, beating Cheltenham at their place.
Our last game against West Ham in this competition came in 2009, when we won a third round tie in extra time at the Reebok.
West Ham have won their sole home game this season, beating Huddersfield 2-0 last Monday. Bolton have won one, drawn two, and lost two of their five away games in both league and League Cup.
Cup games are hard to predict, I`ll go for West Ham to win 3-0, just to make it easier if they do beat us. Anything could genuinely happen though.
We host Brentford in a crunch league game on Saturday, before a trip to Bristol City next Tuesday.