Sunday, 17 December 2017

Selection Headaches for Moyes as Season finally Takes Off

Suddenly it's all positivity at West ham. It seems that whatever was said or done after the embarrassing implosion at Everton three weeks ago, the message has hit home.

Yesterday's dismantling of Stoke City was reminiscent of the early days of Bilic. With a solid defensive foundation, the Hammers were able to pick an increasingly desperate Stoke off. At the end of the first half Stoke still hadn't managed a shot on target!

Up front we look hungry and organised. Somewhere along the way with SuperSlav we lost our way and stopped working with each other. The Link up play that created the goals, as well as a host of missed chances, was superb.

With Reid back from suspension one wonders whether he will walk straight back into the side! Both Collins and Ogbonna were excellent while Aaron Cresswell looks like his old self. Meanwhile Arthur Masuaku looks well worth his place and deserves the amusing "he's better than Lukaku" chant.

In midfield young Declan Rice is loving his chance to shine and may well be Pedro Obiang's starting partner over the next few games. Kouyate's expected return still seems uncertain and Noble will undergo a scan tomorrow one expects.

As such, Arsenal on Tuesday is not ideal but Wenger likes to play an experimental side in the Caribou Cup. Just what Moyes should do is debatable - with our new found form perhaps we can indulge the cup competition with a strong starting eleven. Conversely, Moyes is usually conservative and may prefer to focus on Premiership points.

Either way, it's great to have choices again.

BTW anybody seen Andy Carroll around?

Electric Arnie Pushes Sparky Closer to the Sack

Marko Arnautovic's return to Stoke was always going to be a charged affair. Add in that both sides are fighting for their lives at the bottom end of the Premiership and that Stoke gaffer Mark Hughes is favourite to be the next Premiership sacking, and the atmosphere became electric - so much so that there was a power failure and kick off had to be postponed for an hour to allow a restoration of power!

Poor Stoke are on a dreadful run, with 4 defeats in their last five games, while Moyes' men are suddenly playing with conviction having rediscovered how to defend. All of which meant that despite our terrible record there, Hammers fans travelled to the Brittania stadium with more than a little hope of getting a result and maybe even a rare away win! 

And so it was - the hammers started well and although the penalty awarded in the 18th minute was a bit 'soft', their lead was fully deserved. Thereafter, Arnautovic spurned two excellent chances to silence the Stoke fans and a less confident player might have let their head drop. Not Arnie - call him resilient or call him arrogant, but the Austrian kept going and was finally rewarded for his determination and courage in the 75th minute with the goal that killed off his ex-employers. 

As he departed he received further abuse from Stoke fans, one of whom threw a scarf at him, while a visibly irritated Mark Hughes appeared to get involved in an unpleasant exchange with the Austrian. But the torture was not yet over, as Sakho added a third and in reality the Hammers could have had 5 or 6.  

Lanzini and Arnautovic were the standout players for West Ham, but James Collins made a massive contribution in a defence that kept a third consecutive clean sheet (Sorry Slav - that was unthinkable before Moyes arrived!) and thus formed the platform from which the Hammers built this crucial win.

Moyes' men are out of the bottom three and looking at a Tuesday night's League cup clash with the Gooners with relish. That is followed by games against Newcastle (H), Bournemouth (A) and the Baggies (H) in which Moyes will be looking to push towards mid table safety and then strengthen his squad in the January window. In all honesty, things look very good just now for the club. With Spuds (A), Huddersfield (A), Bournemouth (H) and Palace (H) to come in January there is a great chance to turn the season around.

In other matters, Noble notched his 300th appearance for the club before limping off in the 35th minute allowing Declan Rice to get some more valuable game time - something he visibly relished!  Andy Carroll was mysteriously absent from the bench, leading to speculation about a January departure, while Manny Lanzini is reckoned to be heading for a ban for simulation that led to yesterday's penalty.  

A cloud has lifted.


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Never Mind The Pundits, This One will be a Pre-Christmas Cracker!

So this is Christmas...Moyes-style. Even after a series of season-changing performances, and picking up an unexpected 4 points in the series of games against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal, the Hammers are still in the relegation zone. As a consequence, their Christmas campaign represents a crucial period for the club with lofty ambitions and an underperforming squad. In response, David Moyes has postponed the Christmas party until the club have achieved Premiership safety - something that is quite likely to run until the end of the season in a congested bottom half of the league!

Today's visit to Stoke will be a real test as the Hammers will be expected to do better than the 30% possession they have averaged in their past three games. Stoke are another side who are happy to let their opponents have the ball and try to catch them on the counter, so it'll be interesting to see who gets the lion's share of possession. While against the odds wins over the likes of Chelsea are very pleasing, it's games against fellow strugglers like Stoke and Newcastle that will decide the club's fate.

The Hammers have an awful record at the Brittania stadium but Stoke are on a dreadful run having lost 4 of their last five games. The absence of Winston Reid is a major concern for Moyes, but with the usually super-reliant James Collins ready to fill in, the Hammers will be hoping to continue their recent run of clean sheets. 

It is widely rumoured that Michail Antonio will be rested thus allowing Chicharito to return to lead the line but Moyes may prefer the physicality of Sakho or Carroll, especially at set pieces. Although the 'new' Stoke have a reputation for more positive and attacking football, they have the highest percentage of goals from set pieces in the Premiership accounting for 7 of their 19 strikes so far this season.

Marko Arnautovic will need to keep a cool head as he will undoubtedly receive a 'warm' welcome from his ex-club, but is on top form and may well silence the boo boys with a game-defining contribution. After letting the side down earlier in the season with a foolish red card, one would expect that he should have learned his lesson - but he isn't nicknamed 'Mad Marko' for nothing!

Mystic Mark Lawrenson predicts a 1-1 draw, Paul Merson reckons  it'll be 1-0 to the Potters, while Michael Owen fancies a 0-1 Hammers smash n grab raid. However, with the two leakiest defences in the league on show (Stoke 36 goals, West Ham 32 goals) we reckon a high scoring game is much more likely!

Rory Nostradamus is opting for a 2-3 scoreline, with the Hammers coming out on top.

Arnie to net the winner, of course!


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hammers Bemoan Bahramov Absence

After a torrid 90 minutes of chasing an Arsenal side that enjoyed 71% possession, it looked for all the world as if Javier Hernandez was going to snatch an unlikely win for David Moyes' rejuvenated Hammers. As the Arsenal defence dallied, Chicharito found himself through on goal and smashed the ball past a despairing Petr Cech.

The little Mexican even started to run away in celebration as the ball looked net bound until it seemed to be suddenly pulled up onto the underside of the bar and for some unknown reason bounced on the wrong side of the goal line.

And sadly, Tofiq Bahramov was not available to officiate  having inconveniently passed away in 1993 - unlike on that famous day in 1966 when the 'Russian linesman' (from Azerbaijan!) ruled Hursty's shot a goal. This evening, the referee's watch did not vibrate and no goal was awarded.

All the same, a point maintains momentum and 4 points from the three games against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal was unexpected. Undoubtedly we look fitter and have gotten stronger as games enter the final quarter. Maybe that's the Moyes' magic?


Saturday, 9 December 2017


In a season that has become a proper misery-fest, West Ham looked set to rejoice over Crimbo as the most miserable club in the Premiership. With new manager Moyes struggling for results, and still without a win since replacing Slaven Bilic, the visit of Chelsea looked a dead cert opportunity to slide further towards the very top of the bottom of the Premiership.

That is until Marko Arnautovic decided to turn it on with a delightful strike after just six minutes. In a delicious link up with Manny Lanzini, the unpredictable Austrian calm slotted home. Thereafter, Chelsea 'enjoyed' a lot of possession but Moyes' men looked well organised and did not falter. Perhaps after almost a month his emphasis upon improving fitness is starting to kick in?

To be fair to Arnautovic, the lad has come in for heaps of criticism since his costly arrival from Stoke in the Summer, but he is just doing what it says on his particular tin - inconsistent, infuriating, volatile and, on occasion, superb! Today was the latter.

However, with Arsenal next week the Hammers woes are far from over and they remain in the bottom three despite picking up an unexpected three points. Also, with six yellow cards their strength in depth is likely to be tested in coming weeks.

Match referee Anthony Taylor did well for most of the game but will have won few friends in East London after booking Arnautovic for 'excessively' celebrating his first Hammers goal. Grinch award in the post!

But for now, today was the start of the Moyes' era in earnest. Onwards and upwards!

Our Chance to Claim Bottom Spot!

It's looking increasingly likely that the Hammers will occupy the dreaded bottom spot come Christmas time. Today's visit of a resurgent Chelsea will provide a major test for Moyes' men as they try to build on the ultimately fruitless moral victory last week against Man City. Meanwhile, Swansea who are the only club below us welcome West Brom to the Liberty stadium. Come 5PM we may lead the slow bicycle race that this season has become!

Moyes has dropped Declan Rice in favour of the returning Winston Reid, while Joe Hart stays on the bench to allow Adrian a chance to claim the netminding role as his. Although Chelsea look back to their best, the Hammers bench is very strong with any of Carroll, Chicharito or Sakho available to act as supersub, if needed!

In midfield, wise old man Mark Noble replaces the injured Cheik Kouyate and will be hoping to reclaim a starting berth in the side. The bookies give us little chance again but it's a home game and a London derby and our confidence is improving. Hmmmm.

The Hammers have won just two of their last 22 Premier League games against Chelsea (D4 L16) but did come out on top in a League cup clash. Fingers crossed but you'd take a point, gladly! 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Will-Do Brothers as Hammers and Sporting make peace?

Perhaps the most amusing transfer campaign of the Summer was West Ham's failed bid to attract Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho to the Olympic Stadium. Despite Carvalho expressing a willingness to move, the clubs could not agree terms and the negotiations descended into farce with the Sporting President making a series of unpleasant comments about the Hammers board, including referring to our esteemed Chairmen, Messrs Sullivan and Gold, as the 'Dildo brothers'!

Since then, the Hammers have experienced significant problems on and off the field and manager Slaven Bilic departed last month with the club sliding into the Premiership relegation zone. New manager David Moyes has yet to experience a victory with just a draw out of 4 Premiership games. Despite that, the spirited performance against Premiership leaders Man City away on Sunday will have raised hopes that the underperforming squad can rediscover some decent form.

Central to that will be seeing an improvement in the side's dominance during games as they managed less than 25% possession against City. The injection of new talent into their overrun midfield will be a big target in the January transfer window and it looks like the new found positivity between the clubs could well be the start of facilitating Carvalho's move to the Premiership. As the club's statement revealed "friendly relations between the clubs will resume and there will be no barriers to both clubs negotiating or working together in the future".

As for Carvalho, he has been performing well for Sporting both in the Portuguese League and the Champions League. The latter included an impressive performance against Barcelona that suggests he would be likely to cope well with the pressures of the Premiership. Either way, the Hammers need to move on from moral victories (such as the Man City defeat) to accruing some points!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Moyes is Ready to Rock!

They Say that the bookies rarely get it wrong. With odds as high as 35-1 for a West Ham victory today you'd really have to wonder! Even worse, a 1-0 win is quoted at 90-1, while an 7-0 win for city is just 55-1.

To add further insult, our old mate Paul Once predicts a 5-0 thrashing but revealed he really thinks we could see double figures but doesn't want to be unkind to his old club. Thanks mate!

With Sakho likely to start, it's worth noting that he has been the difference between the sides twice in the past three years - both home and away. A repeat of those 2-1 victories is quoted at 75-1.

While City do look mesmeric of late, it's only 11 vs 11. Moyes has been working on our squad fitness and let's hope it pays off today as we are going to be doing a lot of chasing!

Kick off is 4pm. I've been looking at a Vox A.C. 30 of late. A crisp twenty quid note says Moyes' boys can win it for me!

Let's rock!!!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Bottom at Christmas?....there's still hope!

David Moyes' embattled troops head for Man City away tomorrow without the services of our main offensive weapons in Carroll and Chicharito, along with the likelihood that Winston Reid will also be unavailable. In all honesty, its hard not to feel fearful for our chances of not shipping another painful hiding.

With Chelsea and Arsenal to follow, we are understandably favourites at 4/5 on with BetVictor to be bottom at Crimbo, and frankly, we deserve to be. With an away game at Stoke on the 16th and a home clash with Newcastle on the 23rd, perhaps we can pick up a few points but there may be some hard yards between here and the Stoke game.

The January transfer window offers some hope but in all honesty the problem is not the quality of the squad but the team dynamics and our loss of confidence. We really need a win badly and can kick on from there. For the longer suffering Hammers, we can predict that in typical fashion we will grab a spectacular result against one of the big guns that await in the next three fixtures. If not, maybe we can take a little consolation from the fact that Leicester were bottom in 2014 and we all know what followed!

So, with Antonio back in the mix maybe we can switch Arnautovic to his preferred left sided role and Antonio should provide better cover for Zabaleta. Sakho has downed City before and will surely lead the attack. We are 35-1 against with betfair to win tomorrow.....

35-1 in a two horse race!!!

Must be worth a tenner?