Saturday's big kick-off preview

Wolves v West Ham United Saturday, August 15, 3pm Molineux THERE IS A tried and trusted rule to observe about teams newly-promoted to the Premier League - don t play them early in the season. West Ham suffered last season when they went down 3-2 against W

Wolves v West Ham United

Saturday, August 15, 3pm

Molineux

THERE IS A tried and trusted rule to observe about teams newly-promoted to the Premier League - don't play them early in the season.


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West Ham suffered last season when they went down 3-2 against West Brom at the Hawthorns in early September.

The promoted teams are full of vigour, enthusiasm and in most cases, misplaced optimism when they begin their Premier League adventure.

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By April they are scratching around wondering where the next point is coming from.

And therefore, we move on to Saturday's trip to Molineux to play Championship winners Wolves. Gianfranco Zola will certainly not be rubbing his hands with glee at the prospect.

It is the Hammers first away day on the opening weekend since they returned to the Premier League, and Mick McCarthy's men will provide a tough task for a West Ham team seemingly lacking in firepower.

Wolves will have the confidence of winning the title last season by a clear seven points, and McCarthy has further invested during the summer.

Kevin Doyle has arrived for a club record �6.5million from Reading, but the former West Ham target may well be only fit enough for the bench.

They have also added Andrew Surman from Southampton, Greg Halford from Sunderland, as well as defender Ronald Zuber from Marseille and midfielder Nenad Milijas from Red Star Belgrade, as they look to strengthen the squad.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake grab-bed 18 goals in old gold last season and will certainly be one to watch, though the west Midlanders will suffer from the absence of striker Chris Iwelumo and star winger Michael Kightley through injury.

Wolves are likely to play with only one up front, and with West Ham set to do the same, it could be a tight old match.

The Hammers haven't got a particularly good record at Molineux. They won there in the FA Cup in 2004, but you have to go back to 1983 for a league win, when goals from Trevor Brooking, Dave Swindlehurst and Tony Cottee gave them a 3-0 victory.

While West Ham were losing to Napoli, Wolves were going down 2-0 to Real Valladolid, but Saturday is when it really matters and McCarthy's boys will certainly be up for the fight.

The Hammers may well have to settle for a draw.

Possible team: Hennessey, Foley, Stearman, Craddock, Ward, Edwards, He-nry, Milijas, Keogh, Ebanks-Blake, Jarvis.

Prediction:

Wolves 1 West Ham 1

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