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Manuel Pellegrini: West Ham squad is stronger than last season

Manuel Pellegrini believes he has a stronger West Ham squad than last season.

The Hammers have lost top-scorer Marko Arnautovic after the Austrian completed his lucrative move to China, while fellow strikers Andy Carroll and Lucas Perez have also moved on.

But Pellegrini smashed the club’s record transfer by bringing in French forward Sebastien Haller for £40million, and on deadline day completed his front line with the capture of Switzerland international Albian Ajeti.

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“We lost three strikers from last year’s squad, so Ajeti is a good striker to compete with Javier Hernandez, Michail Antonio and Haller for that position,” said the Hammers boss.

“I’m happy because we have completed the squad in the way we wanted. We have two players in each position, good players too, and the best way is to have competition.

“I always think that to have good performances, you need competition in your position to be in the starting XI. We did what we needed to do.”

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West Ham lost their first four matches last season and face the toughest of openers this time around with a visit from champions Manchester City.

“All the seasons are different, obviously I hope we don’t start this season the way we did last season,” added Pellegrini.

“We have a tough game against Manchester City but we are confident that we will not be scared because they are the champions.

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“We will work as we need to do but not by leaving out our style of play.

“I want to see us to start this season in the way that we finished the last one.

“We went to Tottenham away and we played in the way I wanted us to do, as a big team, as I always say.

“We finished by beating Watford – who were a good team last season – away so if we can return in that way, I hope we will have good results.”

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The Hammers will be without captain Mark Noble, who has a dead leg, but goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski has been passed fit despite missing a chunk of pre-season.

Haller and £25million midfielder Pablo Fornals are set to make their debuts while Jack Wilshere, fit after a full pre-season, is expected to start alongside Declan Rice in the centre.

PA understands young winger Grady Diangana has agreed to join West Brom on a season-long loan.