West Ham’s Premier League campaign starts tomorrow, and they couldn’t face a more daunting task than to go to a reborn Arsenal side at the Emirates.

The Hammers finished a lowly 12th last season after being 3rd at Christmas – the largest plummet down a league table in Premier League history, which proved to be the catalyst for change at Upton Park, with Slaven Bilic brought in to replace the stagnant Sam Allardyce.

Now, with no Europa League to worry about this season having been embarrassingly knocked out in the third qualifying round earlier in the week to Romania’s seventh best team, FC Astra Giurgiu, Bilic’s boys now have a clean run to improve on last season’s efforts.

We asked our writers how they think the Hammers will do in the 2015/16 season, and where they’d place come May. Here’s what they thought.

Michael Oliver, Editor

While I hold absolutely no fears about relegation this season with an improving squad and an exciting new manager, it’s imperative that the team at the very least maintain last season’s mediocrity. Under Bilic it’s likely that the team will move to a 4-2-3-1 formation – like the one he installed at Besiktas, which does worry me to a certain extent because as of now, we don’t have the players to carry that tactic out to the max. Lacking genuine wingers, that needs to be an area we look to strengthen in over the next three weeks before the window shuts.

Dimitri Payet during the pre season friendly match between Southend United and West Ham United at Roots Hall on July 18, 2015 in Southend, England.

 

West Ham will be in that contingent with Swansea, Everton and Stoke again vying for the ‘mid-table trophy’, and believe we have the personnel to compete when everyone returns from injury. Our success will be dependent on whether Diafra Sakho can return to his early season form of last year, and if Dimitri Payet can replicate the performances he showed for Marseille last season, but I think another mid-table finish would be a fine platform to build upon ahead of the big move to the Olympic Stadium.

Predicted finish: 11th

Dean Ammi, Co-Editor

2015/16 should be a top campaign for the Irons. Diafra Sakho will be our main goal scoring threat once again, I believe. It was only injury that hampered him from being a genuine contender for the Golden Boot in my opinion. Dimitri Payet has been brought in by the club in order to boost the levels of creativity, and this will be rather more important following the departure of Stewart Downing.

The Frenchman’s fitness could define our season. I also think Adrian will gobble up the Hammer of the Year award, as he is arguably the most consistent player in the team. With a big squad that is blended with proven continental ability and Academy graduates, combined with a new man at the helm in the form of Slaven Bilic, I think we should be able to finish in a position contending for the Europa League once again.

Predicted finish: 7th

Alexander Lynn

I think that it is widely accepted that Payet will be integral to our season. In previous seasons, we have often lacked that creative edge, though Sakho and Valencia were a step in the right direction last year. If Payet and Sakho link up well, we could be a potent attacking force.

The addition of Obiang to our now stacked midfield should help to relieve the pressure from our defence. With the likes of Lanzini, Zarate, and potentially D’Ambrosio, our increased depth and the slim chance of us advancing very far in Europa should help us to do well in the league. I could see us performing at the level of Swansea or Stoke with ease, as our players are equal to, if not better than, many of theirs.

Predicted finish: 10th

Joe Brown

Our season will be decided on 2 factors: Injuries and Europe. At the time of writing, we are yet to play our 2nd leg v Astra, but even if we go through to the group stages, I doubt we will get much further, and once that burden has been relieved, we will hit the ground running. Our current injury-free squad (including some imminent signings) could scrape into the top 6, but if we have injuries like last season, we could collapse into bottom half mediocrity. I think it will be a slow start, but we will make a slight improvement on last season.

Predicted finish: 9th

Andy Kostka

New manager, new schemes, rough preseason. None of that matters. West Ham will come out of the gates strong – although points dropped to Arsenal and Liverpool could happen. Especially if players, such as Javier Hernandez, are brought in, Upton Park will be rocking for Slaven Bilic’s side. 

A main concern for the Hammers is discipline. Playing with 10 men in three Euro League matches thus far is not ideal for fitness and results. Bilic’s teams of the past have always been notorious for reds, but if the Hammers remain in both the Premier League and the Europa League, discipline is key. 

An early exit from the Euro League could do wonders for the Hammers. All focus on the Premier League, and with a much-improved lineup from last season, and an improved playing style, West Ham could be set for an exciting last season at the Boleyn Ground. 

Predicted finish: 8th

Dan Mullan/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Willem Vernooij

I think this is going to be a tough season on us. With big signings that have been made, the pressure will be high. The players will need to adapt to Bilic’s and his style of football. This transition will be tough, but possible. I predict that the first half of the season will be tough, but we’ll improve in the second half.

Hopefully, I’m wrong. 

Predicted Finish: 12th

Kai Barrett

We’ve made the right signings, and with a few more, it looks like it’s going to be a good season for us. You could argue with the Europa League that we’ll finish in the bottom half and after what happened to Everton that is a good point. But I think we have players with excellent capabilities. Take Payet, Ogbonna, Obiang for examples. We don’t necessarily have to play our best players in the Europa League, why not give the youth a go? So I think we’ll finish eighth, with a chance to finish even higher.

Predicted finish: 8th

Jay Williams

I believe that mid-table mediocrity awaits for the Hammers this season. Some pundits and ‘experts’ estimate that we will struggle this season and could be caught up in a relegation clash. Quite frankly, this is insulting. We have a much better squad than the likes of Norwich and Leicester. On the other side, I doubt we’ll be threatening the European spots as optimists would like to think. Dimitri Payet will, of course, be the main danger man and if we can keep Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho fit for most of the year then there could be a steady source of goals coming from those partnerships. 

Predicted finish: 10th 

Joe Burrows

The upcoming season is massively important for West Ham, our last at the Boleyn Ground before our move to the Olympic Stadium. I think this will be a successful season, following the promising start we showed last year and the money being spent in the transfer window, with the new manager bringing creativity to the dressing room, a new style of play will hopefully be successful.

Also, new additions to the squad should bring some flair to the side. I think Dimitri Payet will be integral this season, being the creative playmaker the hammers required. Adrian will also be important between the sticks, we will all be hoping he can follow on from the great season he enjoyed last year.

Predicted Finish: 8th

Robbie Lawther

This prediction only comes on the basis of the lack of goalscoring ability and lack of raw pace in the team. The transfers later in the window may fix this problem but at the minute it is going to cause West Ham some issues in the season. Also the team will be more open, and are more likely to concede goals. Star player is Dimitri Payet, during pre-season there has been glimpses of brilliance from the Frenchman. Payet has great skill to create chances and score goals, something the midfield has been missing for years.

Predicted finish: 13th

Robert Mullis

I can see it being a tipsy-turvy season for us this year. With the amount of new signings and the need for Bilic to implement his own philosophy, the season may get off to a slow start, especially with Europe being on our minds. 

As much as I would love to conquer Europe with the claret and blue army this year, I can’t see us extending our adventure any further than the group stages. And it may not be such a bad thing. After seeing what the competition has done to our squad in the first few games, I would much rather see us get a taster for it this season, then qualify again and further strengthen when the season is out. Relegation is simply not on the cards. 

After Christmas, I hope to see the kind of top-notch football we played in the first half of last season.

Predicted finish: 7th

Mark Harrison

This is an important season for us. The league still remains the priority ahead of the move to the Olympic stadium, we need to make sure we stay in it. It is also a period of transition for us. We can not completely change the style and mindset around after only  a few process. To get the players playing how Bilic wants and how we want is going to take time. Some people are concerned by our pre-season results in friendlies and the Europa League but I do not see it.

All it has reaffirmed to me is that we are still one summer away from being able to challenge over the course of a season for the European places. I am not worried about relegation. However if we are to push into the top half of the table we need Payet to take to this league like he did the French league. I believe we will see a 4-2-3-1 formation largely so the relationship he builds up with Sakho will be vital to our chances. At the other end of the pitch, due to our lack of out and out wingers, we need Jenkinson and Cresswell to stay injury free as otherwise we could find ourselves exposed.

Predicted Finish: 10th

 during the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round match between West Ham United and Astra Giurgiu at the Boleyn Ground on July 30, 2015 in London, England.

Ryan Jones

This season I think West Ham can finish in the top ten. Slaven Bilic has brought in some great players and addressed the need for a younger, fitter team. Sakho and Valencia demonstrated at the start of last season that the Hammers can score goals and beat top teams. Building on our 12th place finish last season I think we can now get more comfortable wins against lower sides and even get a surprise result when playing the top four. For me Dimitri Payet will be a key player as we have lacked talent and skill in the centre of midfield. Linking with Sakho and Valencia could be a good goal scoring formula.

Predicted finish: 10th

Luke Clancy

Following our exit from the Europa League, it may be assumed that our Premier League season should be better now as a result of a much less gruelling schedule than there could have been if we’d progressed through Europe.  I think we’ll finish around mid table this season. Hopefully we can improve on last seasons position to show that we are moving forward. I’m very excited about Payet and what he’ll bring us in terms of creativity in the campaign ahead. It will be a tough season with the teams around us all strengthening well over the summer so it is essential we hit the ground running in the early stages of the competition. 

Predicted Finish : 9th

Alasdair Hooper

The season ahead is huge for West Ham but, considering all the changes that have been made throughout the summer, I don’t think too much should be expected in terms of performances. The key word for this season could well be ‘patience’. We’ve seen a number of players come in, as well as a new manager, and it will take time for them to bed in and form an understanding on the pitch.

here is also the case of the Europa League that has already claimed its victims, Enner Valencia in particular who I think will prove to be a huge loss for the months that he is out. I also still believe that we need another striker and another creative, attacking midfielder to really make the team tick. So basing this decision on the squad that we have currently, I think we will finish in thirteenth. This year should only be viewed as a building block for Bilic as well as saying goodbye to our stadium. Building a strong West Ham side will take some time.

Predicted finish: 13th  

Jonny Gilder

I think this season, as with nearly every other West ham season in the past, will be a bit of a rollercoaster. Unfortunately, I have never been convinced that Slaven Bilic is capable of leading West Ham in the Premier League and our European performances so far have proved that the team is struggling to adapt. Having said that, I don’t think we have seen our strongest XI play in a settled formation.

Therefore I think the first half of the season, regardless of whether we are in the Europa League or not, will be a struggle with results picking up in the second half as the team gets used to playing under Bilic. I think the stand out players will be new signing Dimitri Payet and Aaron Cresswell. I’d also hope that Mark Noble can step up and keep his place in the side.

Predicted Finish: 13th

We also polled a selection of non-West Ham fans for their view on our upcoming season.

Thomas Bore

top half finish has to be the minimum for West Ham this season. The board signalled their intent with the signing of Ligue 1’s top creator Dimitri Payet for £10.7m, followed by Angelo Ogbonna from Juventus. Several other squad players, with the potential to break into the first-team, arrived at Upton Park in order to cope with the burden of the Europa League’s Thursday-Sunday combination.

Though West Ham failed in their bid to qualify for the competition, this will only boost their bid for a top half finish in the league. Obviously the fans would rather see a big European tie at Upton Park, but a top half finish and a decent cup run is still on the cards

Predicted finish: 9th

Ben Warner

Going out of the Europa League at such an early stage could be beneficial for West Ham, in that they can concentrate on finishing as high as they can in the league, and possibly having a cup one. They’ve signed well, which stands them in good stead for the season. However, the quality of other teams means I can see a top 10 finish at best. Other teams like Stoke are going to be challenging for the top 10 places, and it’s a given clubs like Spurs and Arsenal will occupy the first few places in the league.

Predicted finish: 10th

Patrick Furlong

In my opinion I think the club will be able to build on the successes of last year and achieve an even higher finish should the side rediscover the form that saw them record wins over a number of top clubs including Manchester City. The owners have invested well in the team this year and despite elimination from Europe eluding their last year in the Boleyn they will no doubt look to make up for that with strong performances in the league.

With a strong defence from the set out the team should be looking to build forward and with the possible rumours of strengthening the front line the team should be also capable of providing an outlay of goals whilst conceding very few. Yet if a number of injuries were to hit their small squad then the reality of a dip in form could well come back to haunt the Hammers.

Predicted finish: 8th

Read more from Michael Oliver