Wednesday, 14 November 2018

It's Like McFadden's Cold War at West Ham

Order restored I hear you say! Indeed you are correct - after a 'season changing' win over Burnley and facing a series of ten very winnable games........the Hammers headed for lowly Huddersfield and well, you know the rest!

But our tradition was under threat in other ways - there's the growing sense that we might be developing a decent squad that can genuinely challenge with the best - with one of the best forwards in the league, a midfield that looks incisive, a classy and maturing CB partnership and an amazing keeper it had all started to look pretty positive...

So then we make a sloppy effort to bring in Samir Nasri, one of football's less likeable characters, followed by the revelation that Arnie is thinking about leaving the circus that is West Ham behind for better climes. Hmmm.

"a furious absurdism" - no, not West Ham, but the Guardian's recent description McFadden's Cold War - that could just as easily apply to all things Hammers. Surreal and absurd - perhaps the single greatest components of the 'West Ham way'. If you haven't checked out @Coldwar_Steve it's time you took a peek. Through the illogical disarray, things will suddenly all make perfect sense!

In honour of the week that has been, we have mashed up one's of Coldwar_Steve's mashups for your perusal. Hopefully it will clarify what is going on at the Hammers right now for you.

Fortune's always hiding....always.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Five Players To Solve West Ham's Midfield Troubles

Manuel Pellegrini has turned the corner with his West Ham side as they have gradually pulled themselves up the Premiership table and are currently sitting in 13th and looking upwards with a series of games ahead against bottom half clubs.

However, as yesterday's stuttering performance against Huddersfield demonstrated, the Hammers are already suffering from squad depletion with a host of casualties that includes Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere, Carlos Sanchez and Manuel Lanzini. Mark Noble's foolish red card against Leicester cost the Hammers two points on the day and watching yesterday it was clear that the Hammers were missing his experience in midfield to kickstart their misfiring engine room.

Pellegrini will surely be looking at potential recruits in the January transfer window as both Yarmolenko and Sanchez are out for the rest of the season, while Wilshire's past history suggests that his availability is generally a bonus rather than something to expect.

Aaron Ramsey - Ramsey has a lot of mileage on the clock for a 27 year old with many feeling that he needs a fresh start away from Arsenal to rekindle his fire. as his relationship with Unai Henry has dwindled, a host of European clubs have been watching with Roma the latest would be suitors. His clever movement and close control would make him an ideal recruit for the Pellegrini way and with his contract soon coming to an end he will be an attractive option and the opportunity to lead a new era at London's fastest growing club would likely be attractive to the Welsh talisman. 

Danny Drinkwater - Drinkwater's £35 million move to Chelsea has been a disaster for him. Having won the Premiership with Leicester and broken into the England team with a MOTM debut, he has fallen almost entirely off the radar under Maurizio Sarri. At 28years old he should be in his footballing prime but is wasting away in the Chelsea reserves! Although he has over 3 years to run on his current contract, Clearly it is time to move on but the signing fee is likely to be substantial. Moreover, his 100k per week wages are a major concern, especially since it has never been fully clear to what extent his brilliance during the Leicester season was linked to his partner in midfield, N'Golo Kante!

Mousa Dembele - Dembele at his best is exactly the kind of energetic ball controlling midfielder that the Hammers need just now. He has slipped down the pecking order at Chelsea and has only a matter of months to run on his current contract with rumours of a high profile switch to Italy or perhaps a luctrative move to the Chinese Super League in the offing. However, since 2016 Dembele has been dogged by injury troubles and has had to fly out to Qatar to receive treatment for his latest ankle injury picked up at the weekend. In reality, the Hammers are likely to pass on an aging and injury-prone player like Dembele.

Ruben Loftus Cheek - Loftus Cheek looked all set to push for the heights after the World Cup but things have gone quiet at Chelsea where he has only three appearances this season. At 22 years old and with the versatility to play in midfield or further forward, Loftus Cheek is a real prospect. A host of Premiership rivals are said to be watching his situation closely, including Crystal Palace where he enjoyed an impressive loan period last year. Loftus Cheek's contract runs until 2021 but none the less January looks set to bring new pastures - either on loan again or as a permanent transfer. With Andriy Yarmolenko out until next season and Michail Antonio misfiring, you can readily see how Loftus Cheek could slot into the right side of West Ham's midfield where he can compete with young Grady Diangana for game time!

As we write it looks like Samir Nasri may be joining his old boss at West Ham which represents a major gamble for the club as Nasri is returning from a foolish doping ban and at 31 years old may struggle to show the same athleticism that made him such a force for Arsenal and Man City in the past.  



Saturday, 10 November 2018

Anyone Missing Noble?

In classic West ham fashion, we are allowing a very modest Huddersfield side dictate matters in a game where we look disorganised and lacking in bite. Huddersfield are carrying our defence and have very successfully prevented our ability to play the ball out from the back - plan B shoukd be to go throgh midfield but our lack of adequate presence in the middle has left us looking clueless.

This is exactly the sort of game where Captain Claret is needed to put some order on proceedings. Rice and Obiang are doing their best but we need a third midfielder to create some rhythm. Hmmm. To all the Noble knockers you'd have to say that we are missing our leader!

30 minutes to go and you'd have to favour a second Huddersfield goal rather than a Hammers breakthrough right now as the second half is turning out just as fragmented as the first.


Pelle to Spring Major Surprise

In the aftermath of the Hammers impressive victory over a pretty hapless Burnley side last weekend there has been the usual outpouring of positivity and an expectation that the side will follow up with another win today away to Huddersfield.

Wishful thinking perhaps, especially given our history of failing to capitalise upon momentum in the past. Moreover, Huddersfield looked impressive in their deserved win over Fulham on Monday night and have every right to look towards a home win today to build upon that result.

Despite the bookies and pundits opting for a Hammers win (West ham 5/4 for the win, Huddersfield 5/2), the verdict from West ham fan sites is that Pellegrini's side are more likely to lose than win!

However, there is much to suggest that Hammers fans should be more optimistic about their chances today - Huddersfield are undoubtedly light up front with just 5 goals in their 11 games. Even in winning on Monday night they needed an own goal to overcome Fulham who, now bottom of the table, have conceded just short of three goals per game so far this campaign!

The Hammers, meanwhile are looking potent up top with goals coming from right across the frontline. In Arnautovic, the Hammers have a charismatic striker who is relentless in his joyful tormenting of opposition defences - as Burnley's James Tarkowski discovered to his cost last week! With growing confidence in midfield and defence, it looks like Pelle's troops have finally adapted to his quite demanding and dynamic system. Even better, they look to be enjoying absolutely it.

Perhaps most compelling of all, the Hammers have a strong bench where Chicharito or Antonio can shake things up if needed. All said and done, it looks like Pellegrini can surprise the pessimists and get our first back to back wins of the season. With a series of ten very winnable fixtures between now and the New Year, the Hammers could be ready to really push on in 2019!

Our money is on Pelle to pull off a major surprise for those doubting fans with a 2-0 victory!

Finally, while we are feeling optimistic how about Grady Diangana to open his Premiership account today?

Starting XI: Fabianski, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Rice, Obiang, Snodgrass, Diangana, Anderson, Arnautovic

Subs: Adrian, Fredericks, Masuaku, Hernandez, Antonio, Perez.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Hammers Boss Burnley in First Leg of Claret n Blue Cup

The Hammers picked up a confidence-boosting win yesterday against an out of sorts Burnley side at the London Stadium. After a host of changes to the side during the Summer, Manuel Pellegrini's players are starting to look like a decent unit. Things are really looking up as the Hammers face into a series of fixtures against lower half sides in the Premiership. Here's our player ratings from what was a thrilling 4-2 victory:

Lukasz Fabianski: 7
Pulled off one crucial save. Couldn’t do much about either goal. He exudes confidence.

Pablo Zabaleta: 8
Captain for the day and boy did he lead the side through example. Poor Ryan Fredericks will just have to wait as understudy to the Argentinian ace who is enjoying an extension to his fine career.

Issa Diop: 6
Once again a solid performance but will be annoyed to have conceded two goals to such basic tactics as Burnley employed.  

Fabian Balbuena: 6
Similar to Diop, solid but caught out for the first goal. At £3.5 million Is he the bargain of the season?

Aaron Cresswell: 6
Did nothing wrong but would like to have shone a bit more on a day when the team were so dominant.

Declan Rice: 8
Starting to strut as he grows in confidence. A real presence in midfield these days and is now probably the first midfielder on the team list?

Pedro Obiang: 6
Reasonably quiet day until his injury forced an early exit. His is the thankless enabling role in midfield.

Robert Snodgrass: 6
Is repaying Pellegrini’s faith in him with better and better performances each week. He is now playing like the prospect we received from Hull City a few seasons back and had a major impact upon the pace of the game yesterday.

Grady Diangana: 9
A real crowdpleaser – pacey, skillful, cheeky. Maybe needs to try a little less but along with his individual skill is now linking better and better with team mates. Denied a definite penalty and also forced a challenge that could have drawn a red card in the build up to Anderson’s first goal.

Felipe Anderson: 9
Probably shades the Man of the Match award with two goals and a host of important interventions over the 90 minutes. When he is on form he is superb. Consistency will be the key but aren’t you just salivating at the prospect of teaming him up with Lanzini in a few weeks time?

Marko Arnautovic: 8
An endless irritation for opposition defences with his pace and aggression. Had fun teaching Tarkowski a lesson after falling victim to a nasty early challenge. Always involved and it cannot be overstated how much he drives the team forwards.

Javier Hernandez: 7
Scored one and was unlucky with another. That’s his job and he did it!
Michail Antonio: 6

Delightful chest down for Chicharito’s goal and looked happier in a hammers shirt than he has done in a long time.
Angelo Ogbonna: 5
Took his time entering the fray in a stoppage time wasting substitution!

Happy Days Ahead As Hammers Adopt the Pelle Way

It's been growing and growing - after a dreadful start, Manuel Pellegrini's side are finally adapting to his system and what a pleasure it is to watch. Our last home tussle with Burnley was an unpleasant affair as we imploded on and off the pitch. Yesterday may well have been partly the result of fan's expressing their feelings so forcefully, but either way we are a different club now.

Yesterday we were treated to a proper game of footy, with the Hammers dominating with flowing and positive football. Even without Noble, Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Reid and Carroll, we won easily and were in no way flattered by the 4-2 scoreline. With 63% possession, 80% pass accuracy and 20 shots, 10 on target - there is no way we could have put on a performance like that under Allardyce or Moyes (ED: or Bilic, tbh).  

Up front, Anderson had his best outing yet and with good options out wide (Snoddy, Diangana, Yarmo, Antonio) we can afford to have a wide player who is a bit inconsistent. Diangana reminds me of Kylian Mbappe with his almost unmarkable performance that should have delivered a penalty as well as a sending off. The lad has mayhem making ability in bucketloads. As always, Arnie brings belief and 100% commitment. I will say it again - what were Stoke doing playing him out wide?  It was also good to see Chicharito taking his chance with a cool finish just when we looked capable of throwing away a well deserved win.

As we push towards mid table, it's time to look to where we are heading - between now and the 2nd January we have ten Premiership games, 8 of which are against bottom half clubs, with Man City and high flying Watford visiting the vibrant fortress that the London Stadium is becoming.  Who knows where this will bring us to, but we will be really hoping to be safely nestled in the top half of the table come 2019!

After the Summer, we were disappointed to miss out on Portuguese midfield dynamo William Carvalho, but with the rise of Declan Rice is anybody still wishing that we had persuaded the reluctant Carvalho to join us? Similarly, many of us were worried about the departure of Ginge Collins, but after a rather harsh introduction to Premiership life at Anfield, Diop and Balbuena have been excellent. Yesterday, we shipped two soft goals which shows there is still room for improvement but in all honesty Winston Reid will have a real job getting game time when he returns! 

Finally, on this positive weekend - perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Pellegrini era is his confidence in playing youngsters. Grady Diangana has added to the Declan Rice feel good factor and you get the sense that Pelle isn't done yet! If you were a young talent looking to break through the ranks, West Ham is a club that you can believe in to give you a chance to show what you are capable of. 

Happy days!



Monday, 29 October 2018

We Live But on a Knife Edge

Captain Claret captured all of our thoughts in his comments that at times like this we realise that there are bigger things than football. One moment fans were feeling despondent at conceding a late deflected goal / blessed by grabbing a jammy late equaliser and tgen such emotions were soon small fry for all as the horror of the helicopter crash set in. 

The phrase 'legend' is thrown about lightly these days but no matter how high you set the bar, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was a true hero who not only shared the Foxes fans' dreams, he made them happen. His death is truly tragic. RIP. 

Leicester City confirmed his passing with the following statement:

In Khun Vichai, the world has lost a great man. A man of kindness, of generosity and a man whose life was defined by the love he devoted to his family and those he so successfully led. Leicester City was a family under his leadership. It is as a family that we will grieve his passing and maintain the pursuit of a vision for the Club that is now his legacy.

"Everyone at the Club has been truly touched by the remarkable response of the football family, whose thoughtful messages of support and solidarity have been deeply appreciated at this difficult time."