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  • August 17, 2013
  • • 22:00
  • • Boleyn Ground, London
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West Ham - Cardiff City Preview: Hammers host big-spending new-boys in season opener

West Ham - Cardiff City Preview: Hammers host big-spending new-boys in season opener

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The newly-promoted Welsh outfit have brought in a number of new faces over the summer in a bid to avoid relegation, and they start their new campaign against Sam Allardyce's side

Cardiff City play their first ever top-flight fixture on Saturday as they embark on a testing trip to Upton Park to face West Ham.

The Bluebirds – who won the fourth tier of English football in the 1992-93 season, the first year of the Premier League – won the Championship last term to earn themselves promotion.

As a result, Malky Mackay's men become the second Welsh club in the league, joining rivals Swansea City, and have splashed the cash in an attempt to avoid relegation.

The club have broken their own transfer record on three separate occasions in the close-season in signing Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel for a combined transfer fee thought to be more than £26 million.

John Brayford and Simon Moore, who joined from Derby County and Brentford respectively, are also new arrivals at a club who won three of their five first-team friendlies in pre-season.

But it has been a player who was at the club last term who has made the biggest impact in pre-season, with South Korean winger Kim Bo-Kyung scoring in three of their friendlies.

WEST HAM LATEST
15/2 Ravel Morrison is 15/2 with bet365 to open the scoring against Cardiff
Fraizer Campbell and Peter Whittingham have netted twice, while the experienced Craig Bellamy has also impressed and is sure to be an important player for the club this season.

Defender Andrew Taylor is suspended for the Upton Park fixture, while star striker Cornelius could miss out with an ankle knock.

West Ham are likely to field new signing Stewart Downing in his first match for the club since signing from Liverpool on Tuesday.

The winger, 29, has won 34 caps for England but had seen his career stall at Anfield, and welcomes the change of scenery in east London.

"I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity for me and a great club. I'm ready and I'm fit for the first game against Cardiff," Downing told reporters after joining.

Another former Liverpool player, Andy Carroll, has been Sam Allardyce's biggest signing over the close-season, though he is unlikely to feature in this fixture due to a persistent heel injury.

Spanish goalkeeper Adrian and Romanian defender Razvan Rat have also joined on free transfers from Betis and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively.

The Hammers have also enjoyed a busy pre-season, playing in 10 first-team friendlies, winning eight of them.

The form of English midfielder Ravel Morrison has been most encouraging, with the 20-year-old – who left Manchester United due to disciplinary issues – scoring six goals in pre-season.

It is the sort of form that has seen England manager Roy Hodgson admit to keeping tabs on him, and the attacker could be involved on Saturday as he looks to make the most of his second chance.

George McCartney (knee) is sure to miss out for the hosts, who are also sweating on the fitness of defender James Collins (knee).

Collins – a Wales international and former Cardiff player – would surely relish the opportunity to play if possible.

The two sides have only played each other eight times since 1981, with West Ham victorious in five of them. That includes both legs of the Championship play-off semi-final in 2012, which the Hammers won 5-0 on aggregate en route to promotion.

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Last Five Matches
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Available Squads
22Jussi JaaskelainenGoalkeeper
2Winston ReidDefender
17Joey O'BrienDefender
19James CollinsDefender
20Guy DemelDefender
4Kevin NolanMidfielder
7Matthew JarvisMidfielder
16Mark NobleMidfielder
21Mohamed DiameMidfielder
10Joe ColeMidfielder
10Modibo MaigaStriker
-Adrián San Miguel Del CastilloGoalkeeper
5James TomkinsDefender
26R. RaţDefender
49Ravel MorrisonMidfielder
23Alou DiarraMidfielder
19Stewart DowningMidfielder
12Ricardo Vaz TeStriker
1David MarshallGoalkeeper
2Matthew ConnollyDefender
4Steven CaulkerDefender
6Ben TurnerDefender
7Peter WhittinghamMidfielder
13Bo-Kyung KimMidfielder
17Aron Einar GunnarssonMidfielder
8Gary MedelMidfielder
10Fraizer CampbellStriker
39Craig BellamyStriker
42Declan JohnDefender
32Joe LewisGoalkeeper
5Mark HudsonDefender
18Jordon MutchMidfielder
19Don CowieMidfielder
14Tommy SmithStriker
-Nicky MaynardStriker
14Rudy GestedeStriker

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