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 Kouyat√©, Manuel Lanzini, Pedro Obiang, Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll. 

On the subs bench are: Joe Hart, Mark Noble, Domingos Quina, Declan Rice, Andr√© 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?