Monday, 18 June 2018

Lanzini Injury has a regrettable upside

The football world has been out in sympathy with West Ham's ace midfielder manuel Lanzini after his heart breaking injury sustained in training prior to a World Cup that many had predicted he would be a major success at. Unfortunately, the worst fears have been realised as it has emerged that he has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and thus faces 6-9 months on the sidelines. Despite the significant advances in surgical technique of recent years, many ACS injuries are career changing but with the very best of care and a careful unhurried rehabilitation journey, Manu will be back to his best for the second half of next season's campaign. Currently recouperating in Barcelona where the surgery was done, Lanzini is reported as upbeat.

For West Ham the injury is an obvious setback but many had feared that the club would be unable to hold on to their little Argentinian after the World Cup with a host of clubs apparently interested. Having developed such a potent relationship with Marko Arnautovic, fans really want to see the pair spearhead Pellegrini's side next year. perhaps Lanzini's injury will be a factor in that being possible, but the momentum behind a possible Arnautovic exit seems to be gathering pace. Fortunately, Austria did not make the finals and as such Arnie will be out of the shop window and one might expect that attentions will be diverted elsewhere once the action really gets going over the coming weeks.  

Either way, we wish Manu a full recovery! 



Saturday, 5 May 2018

Still Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

So here we are, at the business end of the season and in a relegation battle that could very easily end in tears. On the face of it we look unlikely to go down and the bookies have us at 14-1 against taking a drop. However, does anybody think its impossible that we might lose all three remaining games? If so, you would have to worry that Southampton, who have a much better goal difference, might win one of their remaining games and suddenly we would have the biggest (not best!) stadium in the championship. Everybody knows that you need to win 10 games to be sure to stay up and we currently have managed a mere 8 victories. A stat that says it all really about a season that has been truly disappointing.

As a consequence, today's visit to Leicester really is a massive game for us. Thankfully, the Foxes home form has been patchy and with their season essentially over they may not be 100% focused on today's clash. Rumour has it that they are struggling with injuries and may field a weakened side. All good then, but what about us? Many fans have started getting itchy with one penning an open letter to David Moyes pleading for an attacking strategy today. The colder eye would feel this is unlikely to be Mr Moyes' approach as Leicester are a side that is set up to counter attack. Lest we forget, Vardy and Mahrez are still at the club, so perhaps a patient approach seems more prudent.

All of which raises the question - can we defend well enough to rely on keeping it tight? sadly not - we are officially the leakiest defence in the league (a whopping 67 goals so far!), so perhaps we should go for an open game? Whatever else, we definitely need to be aggressive and drive the intensity of the game to test Leicester's desire. On a negative note, you'd have to say that this is the type of game that we have been losing all season, but we are due a bit of good fortune against the Foxes after their dodgy late penalty courtesy of referee Moss scuppered our top six aspirations this time two seasons ago. Back then we mistakenly thought we were about to make the great leap forwards!

With Man U and an in form Allardyce-led Everton waiting, we really need something from this game. My head says you'd be happy with a point but that depends on Swansea and Southampton's results. A bad day at the office could see us in massive trouble this evening and slash those relegation odds.

It's definitely not boring! 


Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Wit and Wisdom of Margaret Thatcher?

After yesterday's results (especially Southampton's win) it is pretty clear that West Ham need another result before the season's end if they are to be sure of Premiership football next year. With recently crowned champions Manchester City visiting the Olympic Stadium today it would be nice to think that they might be easing off and thinking about the Summer and the World Cup, but alas that's not likely under Pep Guardiola's leadership in a squad where the competition for starting places is cut throat. In trying to compose a list of reasons why we might get a result today I was plagued by the recurring image of that comedy vinyl classic 'The wit and wisdom of Margaret Thatcher' which is comprised of two completely silent sides! Hmmm.

It's really hard to see how an injury ravaged Hammers side can even get a point with the bookies offering odds of 10-1 against a Hammers win, with the draw at 5-1. Depressing or what? This really is a day for the fans to get behind the team and try to spur them on. With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne able to score from distance, David de Silva's capacity to prise open a gap in the tightest of spaces and Raheem Sterling's ability to con referees into giving him a penalty every time he runs straight at defenders, there is little point in sitting back. Equally, if we push up City will thrive in the wide open spaces of our stadium.

Still, with Manny Lanzini possibly on from the start, Arnie up front with Andy Carroll available to arrive at some point, maybe if we keep it tight we can snatch something. The 4-1 score at Arsenal last week definitely did not reflect our efforts where we deserved a point and looked all set to take one with ten minutes to play. Moreover, City have lost 3 of their last 5 matches, albeit to Liverpool (twice) and Manchester United. No doubt David Moyes will have studied how Liverpool managed their victories but, Arnautovic aside, we lack the counterattacking power of the Reds current crop.  

If not today, next week away to Leicester looks like a promising opportunity to get some points as they fell apart against Palace yesterday and look disinterested. Man United is always a fun fixture and perhaps the ideal one to finally seal survival, especially as a final day visit from an improved Everton looks like the perfect opportunity for Big Sam to remind his former bosses that Premiership survival should always be the primary aim for all clubs outside of the top six. You'd have to think that he might enjoy making us sweat!

Rory Nostradamus says that at 5-1 the draw is a decent punt. Anybody for 1-1?


Sunday, 22 April 2018

A Perfect Time to Storm the Bastille

As Arsenal begin the end of the Wenger era the air is stagnant with nostalgia as the Gooners reminisce on the glory days of the so-called 'Invincibles'. In truth, the current Arsenal side has nothing like the capacity of Henry-Viera-Pires to instill a sense of dread into any would be opposition.

However, that said, West ham fans will be glad to move on from Wenger's era during which we have enjoyed very little success against our neighbours from North London. Perhaps that's why a steely Moyes-led Hammers side are 11-2 against for a win even though Arsenal have little to play for while the Hammers are desperate for the points that would ensure our Premiership safety.

Moyes has fielded an unchanged starting XI but both Lanzini and Carroll can be expected to appear before the end. Its uplifting to witness the growth of Declan Rice, who starts again, and along with Arnie has lit up an otherwise difficult season. Mr Rice really looks like a future captain of the Hammers a la Bonzo style.

I am in Paris and will miss the second half. It's currently 0-0 and with a strong bench maybe, just maybe, we can grab something and start a new era of results against the Gooners?

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Threadbare Hammers Look to Pull off Double

David Moyes will be hoping to build on the Hammers first win under his reign when they overcame Chelsea at the OS in December. However, he was downbeat at the prematch briefing, perhaps understandably given the absence of so many key players. West ham,s injury problems are emphasised by the bench which includes unfamiliar names like Pask and Diangana. Given other results this weekend, a point would be a great result but Chelsea will be looking to bounce back after their 3-1 loss to Spurs last week. 

The bookies are clear in their position with Chelsea at 3/10 on whilst Moyes' men are 12/1 against for the win. 

With the sudden loss of club icon Ray Butch Wilkins earlier in the week, passions will be high at Stamford bridge. 

Hart, Cresswell, Rice, Ogbonna, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku, Fernandes, Joao Mario, Arnautovic.
Subs: Adrian, Hugill, Hernandez, Evra, Cullen, Pask, Diangana. 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

In Yer Face! This is a big big game in so many ways...

With all the off field activity in recent times West ham have quietly slipped into a real relegation dog fight. We are likely to require at least two more wins and another couple of results in order to stay up. Given a tough run in, where home 'advantage' will be in uncertain supply, we look in big big trouble.

Undoubtedly the games against Stoke and today's visitors, Southampton, will be critical to the outcome of a difficult season. It's an understatement to suggest that the atmosphere will be tense today and that the first goal will be crucial. We need leaders today - this is a game made for Mark Noble but the uncertainty regarding James Collins' availabilty is deeply concerning, as well as the Lanzini injury.

On the plus side, Masuaku is back and we have to hope that Mr Moyes gives him the opportunity to continue his potent partnership with Marko Arnautovic. Similarly, Declan Rice keeps getting better and better having been labelled Ireland's best player after his recent international debut vs Turkey. Right now he looks like a better option than the ineffective Joao Mario - just the latest player to demonstrate the need to do transfer business in the Summer as January only seems to bring other club's left overs.

Southampton bring the Hughes-Arnie and Austin-Sullivan factors just to add extra spice to what is a fascinating encounter.

We can do this.

Rory Nostradamus says 3-1 home win.


P.S. the pic is of punk legends Peter and the test tube babies relaxing after Thursday might's excellent Dublin gig. Thanks lads! Their new album is classy and called 'In Yer Face' - hopefully our lot will take heed and really go at it today.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Five changes that can save West Ham from relegation

After three onfield batterings on the trot, Moyes and his army find themselves in deep deep relegation doh-dah! While the off field problems are undoubtedly an unwelcome distraction, central to our recent difficulties has been the loss of a functioning formation that can deliver goals while keeping it tight at the back.

Here are five changes that can get the team back on track and save Moyes' men from relegation disaster:

1. Bring Masuaku straight back into the side. After serving a harshly prolonged six week ban, Arthur has served his punishment and will be chomping at the bit. Its hard not to notice hoe Arnie has lost his form since Arthur went missing.

2. Drop Joao Mario. We might dream of he and Lanzini pairing up as the Mario brothers but in reality we dont have room for two defensively lightweight players in midfield.

3. Its time to promote Declan Rice to a regular starting berth in midfield. I am a big fan of Kouyate but he is horribly out of form and our midfield lacks a bite that Rice's energy can bring.

4. Use Chico more. We would really benefit from some of the cheaper goals that a predator like Hernandez brings. With some tense and likely close encounters looming against Southampton and Stoke, he can be the difference.

5. Bring back Payet. Just kidding! We need players with true grit, warriors who will put bodies on the line etc etc...thank God Ginge is back at centre back. We'll be needing him.

Its incredibly tight in the bottom half this year. The smalkest of things might tilt things in the right or wrong direction. Whatever your thought on all the off field goings on, we need to heed Sir Trev and shelve the issue until we are safe. Let's all get right in behind the team and give them that boost that might make all the difference.

That's what 'real' fans do.