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.


Monday, 12 March 2018

And finally....some good news for a change!

WOW! West Ham really are in a total and complete mess right now. With fan unrest bringing all manner of bad media upon the club while on the pitch our defence has lost its way totally, Hammers faithful really need some good news right now.

Given our atrocious away record this season, the home games against Southampton and Stoke will be crucial. The return of Arthur Masuaku - after a severe six game ban for spitting - can kick start a team that needs a boost both in defence and in attack. Masuaku can bring both and will be desperate to prove his worth. With Patrice Evra filling in with modest success, David Moyes must be tempted to bring Masuaku straight back into the side.

Otherwise, the team will benefit from a break and take the opportunity to rebuilt confidence. Whatever about what is going on off the field, the club need to get behind our underperforming team if we want to avoid dropping back to the dreaded Chumpionship! 



Monday, 5 March 2018

Cheer up: at least its not boring!

Towards the end of the Allardyce era things had reached a very dull plateau at West Ham with lower-midtable obscurity a pretty sure bet the longer it went on. Then we had the nearly period with SuperSlav where with a bit of luck we could have broken into Europe before the wheels came off and we lost faith.

Now its David Moyes and what a frantic period for the club! With fans seriously unsettled with the board and divided into marchers and non-marchers, coupled with the realisation that we are in a thrilling (?) Relegation battle that will likely keep us on the edge of our seats until the last kick of the season! Is it really all that bad?

Oh, and Andy Carroll has been snapped having a few beers in his local, no doubt unwinding after a week of heavy fitness training in an effort to get back before the season ends...

Chaos, madness,, comedy, as usual then i guess! Did anybody else feel a bit miffed at a group of fans hijacking the notion of being 'real'...does that make everybody else not real if they don't agree with every sentiment or action of the group? Respectfully (and the real group did start a campaign that is energising fans to have more say in our club and how it develops) but calling anything 'real' can only end in division.

Interesting times - real fans will see them through and focus on getting behind a team that really needs our support right now.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Judean Popular Peoples Front Consider Their Position

However divided West Ham seemed as a club a few weeks ago, the unilateral decision by the 'Real' supporters group to cancel the planned March has left supporters in a state of disunited disarray. With so many different groups involved, perhaps such a split was inevitable but its worth revisiting why the movement gathered momentum so quickly - and that was primarily because of a lack of confidence in the board delivering on a raft of promises. At present, for many fans looking on there is no real reason to believe that anything has actually changed - apart from a few more promises!

Let's hope that we don't descend into chaos and recriminations - early signs amongst the West Ham media are that this is likely as there are already a series of articles expressing a thinly veiled sense of annoyance with the march cancellation occuring in this way.

As a first step it will be good to hear more clearly what was so positive about the meetings with Lady Brady that has placated the march organisers? Given the background to this movement - where words like 'betrayal' have been bandied about, its hard to see how things have suddenly all reached a happy resolution.

For example, does anybody really believe that David Sullivan will relinquish ultimate control over transfers? We may well install a director of transfer activity but they will undoubtedly be answerable to the board. It also seems a big ask that such an opinionated force keep his thoughts out of the media. Leopard and spots comes to mind!

At this point it would be better to focus upon visibly achievable changes. The stated demands of the march were always a bit vague. One thing that is truly tangible is that the stadium design needs rethinking to make it more football-friendly.

Also, the club need to stop urging folk to join the hopelessly long season ticket waiting list - either its 20,000+ long or not. If it is, really what is the point of joining it apart from making a donation to West Ham Inc?

It seems unlikely that this story is over just yet! Let's stick together, whatever else this episode has created a sense of unity and purpose. The challenge is to keep that positivity focused where it needs to be on the bigger picture of making fans connected with and proud of our club. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Watford Game Crucial to Relegation Battle

In midweek David Moyes made the totally not-shocking revelation that 40 points is our target for Premiership safety. A quick glance at our remaining dozen games reveals that today's clash with Watford is therefore pretty crucial. With seven home games to come, we need another four wins (a simple logic dictates that if you get ten wins, the draws will sort themselves out!) but with five of our games against top six sides, we need to look to win four of the other seven games. With that in mind, Watford today is a massive game, If we win, we keep them in the relegation battle and take the pressure off ourselves. If we lose, we are right back into the mess as one of nine clubs that could realistically go down.

The good news is that our injury crisis is settling. Reid, Antonio and Arnautovic are all on the verge of returning and may all get to feature in some way today. Meanwhile, Joao Mario will continue with the Lanzini role while new recruit Patrice Evra looks likely to also join the bench. While many commentators (myself included) think Evra is past it, one observer made the interesting point that Stuart Pierce was 37 when he joined us and made Hammer of the year! Time will tell.

Up front, Chicharito is looking sharp again while we can throw on Jordan Hugill if we need a bit more physical presence. The Premiership is a big step up for the former Preston ace, but fingers crossed he could be another Dean Ashton in the making. Watford, meanwhile, are looking reasonably healthy and will be buoyant after thrashing Chelsea at the beginning of the week! Interestingly, they are not really a momentum side and have struggled to piece together any back to back wins all season.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of considerable fan unrest which is increasingly channelled through the Real West Ham Supporters Club. These are interesting times at the club as our efforts to deliver upon the dream of top six status in return for moving to the OS have stalled. Fans want the stadium to be made more football-friendly and also want a more effective transfer management policy. David Sullivan has moved to calm things with an interview on the club's website today but with a march planned for March 10th ahead of the Burnley game - another key fixture in our battle to ensure Premiership survival. Realistically, the board are unlikely to stand down but it would be good if these developments could be channelled into improving the club's fortunes. Time will tell.

We reckon we might just shade it today, 2-1. Paul Merson agrees, while Mystic Mark reckons it'll be a draw which would be a better result for the Hornets than us.

Predicted Starting XI: Adrian, Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Mario, Hernandez.

Arnie and Antonio to come off the bench as we push for a late winner...

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Time to Bring Back Carlton Cole

At 37 years young, Patrice Evra is hardly anything other than a stop gap for West Ham in their growing battle against relegation but the big question has to be why David Moyes is bringing in another left back???

The loss of Arthur Masuaku after the foolish spitting incident at Wigan was a blow but he has already served two of his six game ban and will be ready to return probably just as Evra reaches something like match fitness! Evra has been relatively idle since being sacked by Marseille for assaulting a fan!

Perhaps more importantly, although Arthur has been very naughty, he has also been one of the best players for us all season and should be welcomed back - where will that leave old man Evra?

The January transfer window really is no place to go looking for major solutions to squad issues as it is almost invariably a place where clubs squander cash on damaged goods in panic purchases. It's really hard to see what Evra will bring other than a distraction for the increasingly discontent fanbase.

More importantly, rather than a left back we need an attacking midfielder and a striker. With our flanks 'protected by Evra and Zabaleta we surely have the oldest defence in the Premiership?

Just a thought but 'long past it' Carlton Cole is actually 3 years younger than Evra! Similarly, Ex-Hammer and Sideshow-Bob lookalike, Alessandro Diamanti, is also a free agent and a mere 34 years old.

Hmmm. We really seem to be going backwards...

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Antonio Debacle Reveals A Stubborn Side of Moyes That May Cost West Ham Dearly

So here we are, fighting for Premiership survival just four points above the drop zone, with a severely depleted squad and no transfer window to bring in any further help. Amazingly, in the middle of this mess our manager (who you'd have to say has done a great job to date) gets embroiled in a needless spat with one of our key players over the (minor) issue of timekeeping. While many observers have applauded Moyes insistence upon a certain level of discipline, it's hard not to wonder whether he could have picked the timing a bit better.

Many fans were relatively satisfied with a point against Palace on Tuesday but for others you'd have to wonder if a win was what was really required? With very little up front we looked toothless and a draw was probably the best we might have hoped for. Antonio would have offered something extra and was surely missed. Although Moyes and Antonio have made up, Antonio is only on the bench as we look to new signing Joao Mario to provide an attacking spark - his record (17 goals in 156 games) suggests that his main strength is not in offence however!

Any seasoned observer knows that it takes ten wins per season to stay up. We currently have six, which raises the question as to where the other four will emerge from. With 13 games left, there are five against top six sides against whom the odds are against a win, we thus need to looking to win 50% of the other games. The home games against Burnley, Watford, Stoke and Southampton will be crucial. With a squad so thin that we have Zabaleta playing in midfield, we may struggle to get those results.  A time for flexibility and using the available resources to the best of their ability.

Brighton are without a win in six, while we are unbeaten in the league this year. My money is on Antonio to come off the bench and make a big difference against Brighton today!

Starting XI:  Adrian; Byram, Collins, Ogbonna, Rice, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Noble, Kouyate; Mario, Hernandez.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Revealed: What Inter Fans Think About Mario's Departure

So at long last the Hammers have managed to get some extra help into their squad with the arrival of Joao Mario from Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season. The signing is being hailed as a major boost in David Moyes' efforts to stabilise the club as a Premiership outfit and, all going well, Mario may stay thereafter as we hopefully look towards becoming a major force in the League.

Mario is an experienced Portuguese international and has a winners medal from their 2016 triumph at the Euros. In the aftermath of that, he moved from our old mates Sporting Lisbon to Inter for E40 million. He had a decent first season at Inter making 33 appearances with three goals and eight assists. However, this season he has struggled and has been in and out of the team, spending much time as a substitute. Indeed, his 14 appearances this season include 9 as a substitute. The arrival of Rafinha from Barcelona has persuaded him to move to where he can get first team action as it is a World Cup year.

So what does Moyes see in him? He sounds VERY like Pedro Obiang, which means he is probably going to push young Declan Rice further down the rankings for game time. In fact, although we typically think of swashbuckling surges forward when we picture Cheik Kouyate, this season the Senegalese has been much more conservative in his role and, in many respects, has provided a defensive midfield role.

Mario is technically gifted and can hold onto the ball - qualities that a team that frequently concedes 65% plus of the possession will benefit from. He has almost 90% pass accuracy but he is otherwise quite conservative - energetic but not especially pacey or creative (no goals and just 3 assists all season). The Hammers really need another creative and attack-minded midfielder. Hmmm.

We linked in with Italian contacts who follow to Inter to check out their feelings on his move - the responses were lukewarm and included "not sure that he is a top player. May be that in a less demanding team he would perform better" and "Speed is not his primary characteristic, but I think he will compensate with organization and geometry".

Hmmm. It seems they are a little underwhelmed. In reality, any player who is looking to move in January will have similar baggage with them. Let's hope he finds the Premiership to his liking and maybe will free up Cheik Kouyate to recover his old swashbuckling swagger!

Maybe we will get a viewing against Palace on Tuesday?


Strap yourselves in, this is going to get a bit bumpy!

So it's still all quiet on the West Ham front in terms of new signings. Hmmm. Let's hope it's the calm before a storm of activity that brings in a top quality midfielder and a forward who can score goals without limping off every time they collide with something or simply break into a gallop (Yes, Andy C running does look like a gallop!).
With a whopping nine first team squaddies out injured, we are in poor shape facing into a key part of our season. With Premiership games against Palace at home next Tuesday and away at Brighton on Saturday week, the trip to Wigan for Round 4 of the Cup will be a sweaty affair and undoubtedly  impacted upon by our slim resources right now.

Stuart Pearce has intimated that the kids will dominate the side as we really need to keep whatever we've got back for Palace, so we can expect Joe Hart to be minding for Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Toni Martinez, Sam Byram and probably Declan Rice - although the latter may find himself key to Tuesday night's game and managed for Saturday's trip.

We really need to be careful pushing the likes of Collins and Noble too far as at their age they can only put in so many miles within short time periods and, in all honesty, Zabaleta has been remarkable all season with his consistency, but again we need to be careful about overstretching the 'mature' body.

Meanwhile Wigan are top of League One and full of it! Of course, they have good recent history having won the competition in 2013 - but at a terrible cost as their current League one status shows. Personally, I've never really warmed to them, partly due to their former Chairman's unhelpful interventions during Tevezgate, but they will fancy another premiership scalp for sure. having gone toe to toe with Bournemouth before thumping them 3-0 in the replay, they are riding high. At 7-4 they are a decent bet for the win!

A draw might be a good result in footballing terms, but we could do without the extra game. Imagine if we actually were in Europe with this squad!!! Just a marker of how far short we are right now of being the club we aspire towards.

Kick off is at 3PM. It's not on telly. It'll be a proper test for the kids - it's a long time since we produced a first team player through our youth system but the Reece's, Cullen and especially Rice are looking to buck that trend. Now is the time!  


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Totally Tired...Farewell Mr Smith....true genius

Mark Edward Smith
1957 – 2018

We expected you to go on forever, but in the end you'd given it your all. Who else can honestly say that they have never compromised, ever!

Can you ever forget him reading the footie results: "West Ham United 1H"

Or when he accused Shearer, Owen and Mr Crisp ('the shirt brigade') of shopping together, like a bunch of policemen 😅😂🤣

A proper funny man, always perfectly out of tune.


If Masuaku Leaves i Wont be Responsible for What I Might Do to Myself

Ok, before you send around the community mental health outreach team (or maybe the fire brigade), I don't actually plan to engage in self-immolation, but with many Hammers fans responding to news about Marko's dodgy hamstring with tweets saying 'we're doomed' and even 'please kill me', it does seem that hyperbole is the fashion of the hour at West Hamstrung United!

Having said that, rumours that Monaco, Roma and Man United are all trying to steal our Congolese Champion are a step too far and represent the final straw in what has been a vicious January transfer window, seething with scurrilous fake news - especially designed to destabilise West Ham! 

The Masuaku rumours are particularly disturbing because, although Arnautovic and Lanzini have taken most of the plaudits for our recent upturn in fortunes, all season Arthur has been top value entertainment - cheeky, crafty and totally unpredictable. My bets are that if you held a fastest feet competition, that he would win hands down!

While I know we all have a soft spot for Cresswell, who is undoubtedly a better defender and returning to his best form, Arthur's new role in a back five is really working well. For sure, as a standard left back your heart was in your mouth every time the opposition invited a clumsy tackle in the box (and God knows if we are honest he's actually given away 4-5 times more penalties than some lenient refs have awarded), but coming forward Arthur is the Dogs Bollix.

Masuaku is skillful and intelligent but most importantly, he is fun to watch! His recent skill against Spurs was the funniest moment delivered by a West Ham player since Payet's audacious free kick against Man U a few seasons back. For a week afterwards I chuckled every time I thought of it....Ok, OK here it is again:

Thankfully Arthur has moved quickly to quash these scandalous and distressing rumours, and most likely saved countless lives of impulsive Hammers fans who, like me, are at the end of their tatty tethers and simply cannot hack losing our best player to Roma or Monaco.......are they really bigger than us???.

His tweet, albeit from last November, puts an end to the nonsense and emphasises his absolute and total commitment to the cause. He's clearly enjoying his football right now and needs to be let get on with being brilliant!

Go away merchants of fake media, Masuaku is going nowhere!!!


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Five Point Plan to Prevent the Annual Injury Crisis at West Ham

Here's a thing - every year around December and January we get to use the bubonic plague sketch to describe West Ham's injury situation. Every year. Right now we are second in the league in terms of injuries with a whopping first team squad players out through injury.

Having china dolls like Andy Sicknote and Diafra Sakho on the payroll is certainly part of the problem – with a total of 12 Premiership goals between them in the last two seasons (Carroll =9; Sakho =3) it’s simply not good enough! In all honesty, at this stage we really need to take the hit and free up space for players who will be available for selection at least 50% of the season.  

However, our most recent issues relate to Manny Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic. The optimist in me hopes that the Arnautovic injury scare is to end the tiresome media focus on the non-transfer of Marko to Chelsea. First it was Antonio, then Carroll and now Arnautovic - all fake news and it makes you wonder if there aren't some serious West Ham haters out there desperately trying to destabilise our club with these unhelpful rumours. 

However, in Lanzini's case you have to link his hamstring injury to the Shrewsbury saga. It's great to give the kids game time opportunities, and the replay certainly did that, but did our midfield talisman really need to be out there for 120 minutes in midweek with another (more important) game on Saturday? 

We have tried moving training facilities to reduce our injury count but with no benefit. Maybe it's time to make a coherent plan to reduce our injury count for the future. How about this: 

1. Offload long term chronic sicknoters - Carroll and Sakho. They are taking up space and wages that could be used better.

2. Include a detailed analysis of injury history in all new signings.

3. Restrict new signings to players who have not yet passed their prime - Jose Fonte is 34 years old - it's much harder to manage the speed of the game once you are over 30, and recovery time from injuries is greatly prolonged in the 'more mature' player.

4. Treat the FA cup and league cup the way the top clubs do - kids only. No Lanzini's out there against have a go types like Shrewsbury!

5. Invest in a big enough squad to allow for more player rotation - it's cost effective to have more players because it leads to less Lanzini-type overuse injuries.



Monday, 22 January 2018

Hammers simply can't afford NOT to strengthen!

With just a week left in the January transfer window it's all getting a bit heated at West Ham. Even worse, the injury list is (as usual) growing with news that both Andy Carroll and Manny Lanzini are set for prolonged absences - three months in Carroll's case (ED: that usually means nine!) and which essentially ends another season of disappointment for the big man.

With a series of very winnable games looming in the next month, Moyes can nail down his job as Hammers head-honcho for next season beyond, but with the squad depleting it looks like all the good work of late , which has propelled the club to mid table safety, could well come undone.

With rumours that just about every Hammers forward is potentially on the move (Chicharito to Besiktas; Ayew to Swansea; Sakho to Rennes; Carroll to sickbay instead of Chelsea) and revelations today that Chelsea are trying to destabilise Marko Arnautovic, it makes for hard viewing right now at the London Stadium.

Even worse, do we really think that the likes of Joe Allen or Jonjo Shelvey are top six standard players? With some reports suggesting that Moyes wants to stick to proven Premiership performers, it is clear that he has an eye for inter Milan's midfield Joao Mario. The Portuguese would bring a winning mentality but as a principally defensive-oriented player, he will hardly provide the solution to our reliability on Arnautovic up front.

Similarly, Anderlecht's Leander Dendoncker, another energetic midfielder that the Hammers have been linked with, is not exactly prolific with just 10 goals in 155 appearances for the Belgian club. 

It's pretty clear that its going to be difficult to bring in quality players as the January window is cagey and overpriced! Offloading the volatile Diafra Sakho for the reported fee of £10 million (who is out of contract in the Summer!) would be a start. Also, Chicharito might have finally checked in with his strike on Saturday against Bournemouth. It's also relevant that after high profile failures chasing 'big' players in the past, last Summer saw the Hammers board adopt a less flamboyant approach to transfer dealings which perhaps underpins the relative silence about possible signings.

With the 13th highest income from gate receipts worldwide, we can certainly afford to dip into our pockets and ensure our Premiership survival! We predict some good news on the transfer front, and soon!  

Thursday, 18 January 2018

What is the Logic Behind Andy Carroll's Proposed Move to Chelsea?

As speculation grows regarding a shock move to Chelsea for Andy Carroll, fans are wondering what logic underpins the potential switch. Having mustered just 86 games in his four and a half seasons at West Ham, offloading Carroll for a decent fee (or just offloading his weekly wage) would possibly be the best piece of financial business the Hammers have done in recent years during the treacherous January transfer window.

With Carroll once again in sickbay - this time with rumours that he is feigning an ankle injury to keep himself available for any potential move - David Moyes has been coy about the move. From a Chelsea perspective, the move makes little sense. The Pensioners already have a big man up front in Alvaro Morata who has a decent record of maintaining injury-free status over recent years and hardly needs back up.

At the start of this season Hammers fans hoped that a combination of Carroll and Chicharito up front could propel them up the table and onto the verge of Champion's League glory. However, the two have rarely played together as both have had constant injury niggles, while in reality, the two up front combination represents an outdated model of attack since most clubs prefer these days to work with a lone attacker and a mobile midfield pushing up in support.

Carroll appears very settled in London, but it is worth noting that many of his closer friends have departed from West Ham, including Kevin Nolan, Joey O'Brien and Darren Randolph. After a career that has been blighted by injuries, it may well be that Andy has adjusted to the reality that he can only ever be an occasional presence for any club and that, at 29 years of age,  role as an impact substitute at Chelsea may be the height of what is possible for him now.

For the Hammers, losing Carroll would be a blow (sort of!) but if they could offload both Carroll and Sakho it would free up considerable resources to bring in strikers who will hopefully be reliable - both in terms of fitness AND goal scoring record. A possible swap for want-away Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi represents good potential business as despite being used as a substitute for much of his time at Chelsea, he still has a considerably better scoring record (17 goals in 50 apps) than Carroll (32 in 124) that is similar to that of the terminally unhappy Diafra Sakho (24 in 71).

At this stage, if the rumours are correct, it might be better for Carroll to depart as it seems that his head has been turned. After so many false dawns over recent years, a fatigued Hammers fan base will mostly welcome moving on with new blood up front.



Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Hammers Face Fiery Trip To Wigan for Fourth Round

After last night's heroics from Reece Burke in extra time, the Hammers face some real fireworks in the next round of the FA cup as they are set to face Wigan Athletic. The Latics may have slipped into the third tier of English football but that did not stop them dishing out a 3-0 hiding to Bournemouth this evening.

Since their rather costly FA cup win in 2013 - the year that also saw them relegated from the Premiership, Wigan have had little to cheer, enduring a yoyo existence between the Championship and League one. They were relegated back to League one again last year but are currently top - just above Shrewsbury who were the Hammers victims of the last round.

Perhaps the most notable happening at the DW stadium has been the imposition of major bans for fans engaging in pyrotechnics as the club was identified as amongst the top three users of smoke bombs in a 2016 report (along with Everton and Man United!).

Despite the away fixture, the Hammers will fancy their chances against the Latics who rank Northern Ireland's Will Grigg amongst their top threats and have based this season's success on their well organised tight defence (only 12 goals conceded in 26 games!). Whatever else, the game will provide much needed additional game time for the Hammers many rising stars.



Sunday, 14 January 2018

What On Earth Was Lanzini Thinking?

The Hammers pushed themselves into mid-table safety after ravaging Huddersfield at their John Smith Stadium. Using a solid defensive set up as the basis from which to attack, the second half saw the Hammers rip Huddersfield apart and, in all honesty, the 4-1 final score line did not flatter the East Londoners.

However, it could all of turned out quite different if Huddersfield had steadied themselves after Marko Arnautovic's early second half strike that left the Terriers chasing the game. Thereafter, Arnautovic and Lanzini sliced through the Huddersfield defence at will but on 55 minutes, and just one goal ahead, Lanzini found himself through on goal BUT instead of taking the relatively easy option to put two goals between the sides, the stylish Argentinian bizarrely decided to try a rabona!!! 

Thankfully, a punch drunk Huddersfield conceded a third soon after as Lanzini seemed to learn from his earlier misjudgement and smashed in the third and then a fourth. In reality, Lanzini should have had  a hat-trick and on another day the missed rabona effort could have cost the Hammers dearly!

That said, the Hammers are looking good and the Manny-Arnie partnership is working really well.  It's a pity that none of our strikers seem to be able to join them in the fun! Arnautovic’s physicality and Lanzini’s craft make for a potent combination, especially where the opposition pushes up and leaves space to run into like yesterday.  

Also worth a mention is the fact that Mark Noble's well taken effort to open festivities yesterday was his 50th for the club. A truly top Hammer and with still a bit left to give! 

Next up it's the 3rd round cup replay with a well organised Shrewsbury hoping to wreck our current buzz. Moyes only named six substitutes yesterday revealing that he wanted to keep some of the kids fresh for Tuesday. With our Premiership status looking much healthier as we are now up to 11th, perhaps Moyes might fancy a run in the cup and field a strong side?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Hammers kids run riot against Man United

Some senior Hammers show the new squad members the ropes
The one pleasing thing about yesterday's rather subdued performance against League 1 Shrewsbury in the FA Cup was the fact that some of our youngsters got a run out, with Reece Burke, Josh Cullen, Declan Rice, Domingos Quina and Toni Martinez all getting some valuable game time, while a host of other members of our U23 squad got to travel with the team.  

It seems that the feel good factor has paid off as the U23 side are running riot against Manchester United after second half strikes by Grady Diangana, Toni Martinez and Martin Samuelsen gave the Hammers a 3-0 victory. Even more pleasing was that Terry Westley's lads played some brilliant football and more than deserve their margin of victory!

With a replay against Shrewsbury on Tuesday week, the youngsters will get another valuable opportunity to strut their stuff in the first team squad and are doing their best to give Mr Moyes plenty to think about!

West Ham United U23s: Trott, Pike, Akinola (Wells 72'), Alese, Hannam; Coventry, Makasi, Haksabanovic (Diangana 46'), Quina, Samuelsen, Martinez (Hector-Ingram 82')
Unused Subs: Matrevics, Scully

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Hurst Springs Hat Trick of Surprises as Hammers Make Treacherous Trip to Shrewsbury

The matchday team sheets are in and in shocking news we can reveal that Shrewsbury boss, Jeff Hurst, has pulled a big surprise by fielding three unexpected faces in his starting XI. Dennis Rodman, Travis Bickle and the terrifying Kevin Nolan are all listed, along with the complete Bolton squad and a Wally!

David Moyes has been decidedly more conservative by fielding just two youngsters in Josh Cullen and Reece Burke. Poor Pedro Obiang and Cheik Kouyate are starting despite their heroics in the two games earlier this week and will presumably be substituted to allow the host of youngsters on the bench to get some big match action.

Shrewsbury - Henderson, Godfrey, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley, Ogogo, Morris, Bolton, Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman

Subs - MacGillivrary, Lowe, Dodds Gnahoua, John-Lewis, Morris, Payne

West Ham United - Hart Burke, Rice, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Obiang Cullen, Hernandez, Ayew

Subs - Adrian, Neufville, Makasi, Samuelsen, Haksabanovic, Martinez, Quina,

Moyes Hopes to Avoid Another Shakespearian Tragedy by Taming the Shrew

Today's FA cup clash between Shrewsbury and West Ham provides a chance for Hammers fans to discover how youth-friendly the Moyes era is likely to be. In his pre-match press briefing Moyes emphasised that the Premier league takes priority and as such it seems likely that Toni Martinez, Sead Haksabanovic and Domingos Quina will get their chance to lay stake to a place in the first team.

However, Moyes will be wary of the opposition having previously suffered defeat at the Shrews in 2003, at the beginning of his stint as Everton manager. An Everton side that included a young Wayne Rooney lost 2-1 in the Cup. That defeat was all the more significant as Moyes spent three seasons as a player at Shrewsbury between 1987 and 1990.  

An 'upset' is by no means off the cards today as Shrewsbury have been in top form this season and currently occupy one of the Promotion spots in League one. Their success has been built upon a solid defence that has only conceded 15 goals all season - and only 4 at home! However, that stability may well be affected today as their usual netminder, Dean Henderson, is cup-tied. With the relatively inexperienced Craig MacGillivray stepping in what are the odds that Pedro Obiang might test him out with a few long range missiles like his stunning strike at Spurs on Thursday night? 

Up front, the Shrews are not very prolific but top scorer Stefan Payne and his pacey accomplice Shaun Whalley will be hoping to rattle West Ham's often shaky defence. However, the Hammers are recently looking more solid at the back and look to have discovered a real talent in young Declan Rice. Joe Hart will replace Adrian in goal and will be hoping that the return to his hometown club, for whom he played 58 times before moving to Man City.  

The game is being televised which reflects how much the team at Auntie Beeb suspect a shock might be likely. Shrews manager Paul Hurst is a shrewd operator having steered Grimsby back from the National League before taking over at Gay Meadow in October 2016.  

This one is hard to predict until the team is announced as Moyes may field an inexperienced side for what is West Ham's third game in six days.

Kick off is at 2PM and coverage starts at 13:40 on BBC One.



Saturday, 6 January 2018

Major Lessons From the Spurs Game: Is Declan Rice the New Bonzo?

Thursday night's Premiership clash with Spurs at Wembley made for pretty compelling viewing - and not necessarily only for positive reasons. Moyes' men were clearly told to park the bus with two layers of defence protecting Adrian's goal and as a consequence Spurs were reduced mostly to long range efforts.

No pressure there mate!
In his post match interview, David Moyes was disappointed that the Hammers didn't come away with all three points but, in reality, giving up 71% possession and 17 shots on goal to a side with Kane and Eriksen in it is a risky strategy that fortunately worked out reasonably well. under Moyes we have managed just 3 shots on target in 4 London derbies - hardly the stuff of a side looking to win games! 
At this stage we have established that Moyes' side can defend well when they opt to park the bus but, equally, when we try to play a more open and expansive game we suddenly seem to morph into a pub team at the back with costly consequences against Bournemouth and Newcastle, not to mention that horror night at Goodison. So what did we learn about our current plight on Thursday night? 

1. Chicharito is not effective as a lone forward. Physicality is not Hernandez's strength and he really struggled to have any impact up front. Worryingly, when Spurs cocked up leaving him with a clear run on goal from 30 metres out he was easily outpaced by both Spurs centre backs. Chicharito is a poacher and needs the ball in and around the box.

2. Our midfield cannot hold onto the ball under pressure. The final haul of 29% possession says it all - throughout the game we found ourselves making hopeful passes forwards - often from the edge of our own box! But for the nimble-footedness of Lanzini and Masuaku, we might never have crossed the half way line! Noble was our best midfielder on the night - even counting Obiang's fabulous strike. Top of our January transfer list must be a midfielder who can hold onto the ball. 

3. Declan Rice can be the new Billy Bonds! Another super performance from the youngster. With all the talk about Reece Oxford, Rice has slipped in there with a mature head on 18 year old shoulders. The kid seems to have it all - pace, close control, strength, good positioning sense....and a natural leader. This kid is the real deal. 

4. Adrian is back on best form. In fairness, neither Lloris nor Adrian had much chance with the two sublime strikes on Thursday night. Otherwise, Adrian was excellent in pulling out a series of great saves. Why are we paying Joe Hart so much per week to sit on the bench?

5. Arthur Masuaku is bloody brilliant!!! Still only 24, he will get better and better. At last we have realised that he is better in a more advanced role with five at the back and he is loving it. One particular cameo on Thursday night was perhaps the best skill we've seen all season as he plonkered two spurs defenders before deftly flicking the ball across the penalty area - OUTRAGEOUS STUFF!

Check it out:

Our main players can expect a well-earned rest as we travel to Shrewsbury for the FA Cup today. It’ll be fascinating to see how our latest crop of kids perform when they finally get their chance.  


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Moyes Shows Muscle For Crunch Baggies Clash

David Moyes has opted for a muscular side to face West Brom at the London Stadium tonight. With the physicality of Arnautovic and Carroll up top, along with the return of Winston Reid, the Hammers will pose an aerial presence.

Key to the outcome will be whether Zabaleta and Masuaku can get down the wings and create from out wide. Adrian continues in goal but will be needing to do better than the past two games where we have reverted to our previous defensive chaos. 

If we get ahead then Captain Claret is available to come on to calm things, while if we are chasing then Chicharito is an option. Michail Antonio has failed to recover from injury while Diafra Sakho is absent for uncertain reasons.

The starting XI is: Adrian, Pablo Zabaleta, Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, Aaron Cresswell, Arthur Masuaku, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Manuel Lanzini, Pedro Obiang, Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll. 

On the subs bench are: Joe Hart, Mark Noble, Domingos Quina, Declan Rice, André Ayew, Chicharito, Sead Haksabanovic. 

The atmosphere is building! 



Monday, 1 January 2018

It's Time To Stop Blaming Every One Else

It's been a terrible year - it started with the loss of Dimitri Payet and has ended with us lying in the relegation zone. SuperSlaven Bilic has departed after a poor start to the new season and David Moyes has arrived as the supposed saviour. So far with two wins in ten games Moyes can hardly claim to have changed much but we live in hope.

As we entered Christmas there was a sense of genuine hope - a cracking win against Chelsea and a draw with the Gooners, alongside a decent crack at Man City and we rightly felt our defensive woes were over. The dismantling of Stoke looked like the start of a charge up the table but then we follow up by losing at home to a poor Newcastle side and throw away a win against Bournemouth in injury time, on each occasion shipping three goals to pretty blunt opposition!  

Many fans have focused upon the stunningly poor decision of Bobby Madley et al in allowing a blatantly off side and handled goal by Callum Wilson, but you'd have to query how the hell Bournemouth managed to get a chance to score the goal in the first place. having been gifted a win by Begovic's double goalkeeping howlers, how did a speculative lofted ball into the box end up in our net? 

And while we are in whinge mode, we need to face up to the fact that we still lack a decent striker. Andy Carroll and Sakho are too unreliable and at this stage most fans feel should be moved on. Worryingly, Chicharito has stuttered since his arrival and needs a decent second half to the season if he is to justify his signing. After a flying start with a brace against Southampton in August he has managed just 2 more goals in 16 appearances. Is it him or the service?  

The January window is rarely a place where good business is done by purchasing clubs. We still need another 6 wins to reach the magical ten it usually takes to stay up, let's start with a much needed win over Pardew's Baggies. Languishing below us in 19th and with two wins all season this is a relegation six pointer.  

Mark Lawrenson predicts a 1-1 draw. One suspects that Pards will look to keep it tight and hope to snatch a win. We reckon Moyes will outfox the Baggies - an early goal would work wonders in opening up the cagey Baggies. Whichever striker we start with will have plenty to prove.

Anyone for a 3-1 home victory?