Sunday 30 December 2018

Anyone for Seventh?

2018 has been a crazy year for West ham as we have finally bedded into our new stadium and are looking to move to a higher level. Payetgate and the supporter unrest that besieged the club during 2017 seem a long time ago as Manuel Pellegrini has steered the club to new heights with a quality squad that are playing football in the West Ham tradition with an open attacking style based upon good passing and emphasis upon skill rather than muscle.

And so, after a terrible start where we looked (understandably) like a team who have never played together before, the system has bedded in and despite our usual bad luck with injuries we are driving up the table and could reach seventh if we can beat lowly Burnley today.

The Clarets have lost the mojo of last season and look in real need of some new blood in the January transfer window. Sean Dyche is a refreshingly honest realist and will know that he needs both more firepower up front and some defensive steel if his side are to avoid the drop. Having conceded 41 goals, Ex-Hammer Joe Hart has been busy picking the ball out of the net but perhaps even more damning is the statistic that he has also made the greatest number of saves for any keeper in the Premiership this season!

There are a number of uncertainties on the Hammers side as it is unclear whether Chicharito or Balbuena will be available, with rumours suggesting that they may not have travelled to Lancashire for the match. Similarly, Marko Arnautovic may be available but either way seems unlikely to start. Fans will be interested to see if Perez is punished for his miss against Southampton and whether Manuel Pellegrini feels that Andy Carroll is fit to start a game and /or needs the opportunity to put himself in the shop window and / or the chance to demonstrate his worth to the club as his current contract runs out. Felipe Anderson seems to have shrugged off the knock he picked up while garrotting Southampton in midweek. There is less certainty as to whether Pablo Zabaleta has recovered from the flu-like illness that kept him out of the visit to St Mary’s. Either way, Mark Noble seems set to return for his 450th appearance for the club as Declan Rice gets the chance to celebrate his new 6 year contract.

Mystic Mark Lawrenson reckons Burnley will win, without any clear reasoning while the bookies firmly disagree making the Hammers 11/10 and Burnley 11/4. Those odds could change considerably when the starting line ups are announced. If West Ham win they will amass a club record 18 points in December and move up to 7th in the league. Its at times like these that we seem to stumble most frequently…..but under Pelle things do seem different, don’t they?

Rory Nostradamus reckons it'll be a 3-1 away win (17/1).


Thursday 27 December 2018

Five Talking Points From Hammers Victory Over The Saints

1. It's all about the system: With so many injuries we had no right to boss this game away from home, yet such is the Pellegrini system that even without Arnie, The General, Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Zabaleta, Wilshere, Chicharito et al we still played like a tight unit and shrugged off the setback of an illegal goal to win with something to spare at a ground we have won only one of our previous nine visits.

2. Declan Rice is the real deal: Looking through the green-tinted spectacles of a Paddy, Decky really looks like the player that Mick McCarthy can build an Irish side around. An amazing abilty to read the game, fabulous link up play and always there to tidy up when his team mates mess up....err 'Roy Keane' anybody? Sort out a long contract and lets enjoy having a lynchpin who dictates games with his football nous. We used to see Rice as a Rio in the making but he's shown this year that he has what it takes to boss midfield play at the highest level. Anyone else loving this?

3. Michail Antonio is too nice for his own good: It's pretty obvious that Michail does not think like a full back but he never shirks the responsibility when asked to play in a position he is unsuited to. Just when he seemed unplayable on the right wing SuperSlav asked him to fill in at right back and to his detriment he obliged. Pelle needs to avoid wrecking his buzz just when he is back to form and fitness. Stop this right back nonsense NOW! The January window requires a new right back as a major priority and let Antonio rampage further forward.

4. Anderson is the new Payet: Right to the end most true Hammers hoped that we might salvage the Payet mess mostly because we knew he was a real talent and worth the admission price on his own. There is a certain level of technique that most players can only dream of and Filipe has that. Yes, he loses posession a lot but his high risk manoevres open up opposition defences in an era where mass defending has stifled open attacking football. Filipe is that rare thing - the locksmith who can open the tightest defensive systems. As we push to higher levels we will need his Brazilian genius to compete. Aside from being a brilliant finish, his second goal kept Southampton's back four honest in the crucial final quarter....did anyone think we would concede a silly scrappy backs to the wall goal in the final few minutes tonite? Thought not. Thank Filipe's incisive counterattacking for that.

5. Ogbonna's West Ham career is far from over: Breaking up the excellent Diop-Balbuena partnership was a real worry tonight, but in reality Angelo fitted in delightfully and bailed out the usually excellent Issa Diop on more than one occasion with his situational nous. Did anyone ever imagine that Winston Reid would be under so much pressure to get back into the game squad when he returned? We all applaud Pellegrini for his attacking style but the centre back arrangements right now aren't too bad are they!

Pitbull would fit in well with the pack!

Right now West Ham feel like a club on the cusp of something great - having weathered a difficult (and defeat-laden) bedding in period under Manuel Pellegrini they have found their stride and have been marching up the table towards the top six.

That march was temporarily halted by Watford on Saturday but they will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways tonight against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium.

A big worry for Manuel Pellegrini is the extent to which injuries have taken their toll, with midfield the position that they are most stretched with Summer signings Carlos Sanchez and Jack Wilshere both out injured. undoubtedly Mark Noble and Declan Rice have done a great job, with Robert Snodgrass making a massive contribution in a more central role, but a big physical presence in midfield will surely be top of the wish list in January.

Chilean veteran Gary Medel looks like he could be just the solution that the Hammers are looking for. Nicknamed 'The Pitbull', his aggressive style would add needed bite to the squad. Medel enjoyed a mixed experience a few years back at Cardiff where despite a string of good performances he couldn't prevent the club from being relegated and moved to Inter Milan where he made 109 appearances in three seasons before switching to Besiktas.

Medel is only 5ft 7 in height (and perhaps a comparison to a staffie might be more appropriate?) but such is his athleticism that he has also played as a centre back on multiple occasions!

With 114 caps to his credit, Medel is just the type of wise head that you want in the dogfight for European placings and no doubt that wealth of experience is something that young Declan Rice would surely benefit from in his journey towards being a potential future club captain.

The rumour mill has it that the Hammers have already made a £6million offer but Besiktas are so far holding out. However, the Turkish club are known to be financially stretched right now and may be forced to sell off their best assets, including Medel who at 31 years of age will hope to still have a year or two to contribute at the top level and may well want to make up for what was ultimately a disappointing time at Cardiff .

The arrival of a pitbull will surely start a series of dog comparisons amongst our squad. can you name the players that bear resemblance to these 4 breeds?

For the answers see below. Number 4 may be the hardest but think about recent International speculation and it should be a little easier!

As for today, Southampton are on the rise with a sequence of wins under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, while West Ham may be without both Chicharito and Fabien Balbuena, both of whom had poor games against Watford. Angelo Ogbonna acted as a more than able deputy for the General and will be looking to start today. Up front, things are not quite so straightforward as Marko Arnautovic is unlikely to be rushed back from injury but should be ready for the Brighton game on the 2nd January. Similarly, Andy Carroll does not look quite ready for a starting berth.

The Hammers have only beaten Southampton at St Mary's once in their last nine visits and are 5/2 against for a win. Southampton are 6/5 with the draw a decent bet at 5/2.  It's likely to be a big day for Michail Antonio as he looks to impress at his former club. On form and back in the goals, it's a hard call to decide whether he is likely to leave or stay at the Olympic Stadium in January. Today presents a chance to convince Manuel Pellegrini that his physicality and direct style is enough to make up for his modest first touch on the ball.  
As for the quiz......
1. English Bull terrier = Squad #16

2. Afghan Hound = Squad #9

3. Border Collie = Squad #1

4. Irish Terrier = Squad #41


Sunday 23 December 2018

Julien's Faux Pas #6: Life's a Beach

As our four game winning streak comes shuddering to an end, our time in the sun is over and its back to the drawing board with two more casualties stuck in sick bay in Chicharito and The General.

In better news, we are edging ever closer to getting Arnie back on the pitch and Andy Carroll got some more game time.

The Gods of squad fitness giveth and taketh in equal measures!

Watford: the new Luton?

It used to be Everton until we finally removed the hoodoo tag, before that it was Luton (and also Oldham), with a few years interspersed of (rationally) hating Sheffield United, but today its definitely Watford. Maybe its their insipid kit, or perhaps the more than slightly irritating Troy Deeney, but there can be no doubting that Watford are an annoying club. 

My only fond memory of Watford was being at the game in 1986 when McAvennie and Cottee scored in a 2-0 win for the Hammers. Then again , we had Alvin Martin, Alan Devonshire and Mark Ward playing that day and were simply too classy for Watford.

Yesterday's game was a strange one as we ended our winning streak with a subdued performance that lacked the cutting edge we had found in previous weeks. Up front, Chicharito and Antonio has gilt edge chances to swing the game back in our favour but it was just one of those days.

Fabianski's tremendous performance was the highlight, which perhaps says it all as we didn't really get beyond third gear. The crossbar and post also added to the conspiracy as Michail Antonio's recent goalfest (!?!) came to an end.  

In truth, Watford had sussed how to wreck our buzz and deserved to win, albeit with more than a little help from the referee who, apart from (correctly) not sending of Balbuena for the penalty challenge, did little to enhance our chances of salvaging something from a poor performance.

The best teams can still get results when they are off form. We are not there just yet.  

Saturday 22 December 2018

Pelle Opts for Stability...but what a bench!

Here we go! Looking to make it 5 wins on the trot. 

Manuel Pellegrini has rewarded last week's heroes with an unchanged starting XI but with some potent options available on the bench we can expect the Hammers to go toe to toe with Watford.

Starting XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson, Hernandez, Antonio. 
Substitutes Adrian, Cresswell, Carroll, Obiang, Ogbonna, Silva, Diangana.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Messi and Rice: Rap Legends!

The Declan Rice story has been a major positive for Hammers fans this season as the 19 year old has emerged as one of the most exciting young talents in the Premiership. 

Even at this early stage in his career it is apparent that he is the best academy product since Captain Claret himself, Mark Noble!

Having nabbed him from Chelsea, Rice is fast becoming West Ham's revenge for John Terry's move to Stamford Bridge instead of Upton Park all those years ago!

Rice has shown remarkable maturity, both on and off the pitch this season and is possibly the first name on the starting XI each week.

While there has been a lot of angst about his contract situation, Rice has shown a cool head and got on with the more important business of playing football. Courted by the Republic of Ireland and England, Rice has yet to finally commit himself internationally. 

In the latest chapter of the fairy tale story, he has featured in  a new track by @DonStrapzy_ : Referring to having the vision of Messi, Strapzt then comments "I’m breaking up the play, I think I’m Declan Rice".

Rice himself later expressed his approval on twitter

At this stage anything seems possible for the lad who is still only 19 years old!!! Declan Rice really is a young man with the world at his feet. Let's hope the Hammers sort out his contract asap!




Julien's Faux pas #5

With a home game with Watford looming, the Hammers faithful are watching the record books closely as Mr Pellegrini's project is starting to hit top gear. With previously out of favour players like Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio in top form under the gentleman's stewardship, anything seems possible at West ham right now.

Watford, however, have been tricky foes for the Hammers in recent years with 6 defeats, 3 draws and 3 wins in our last 12 encounters with the Hornets! That said, after a great start to the season it looks like sides have rumbled how to overcome Javi Gracia's troops as they have lost four and won only one of their last seven games.

Either way, these are exciting times at the London Stadium..... It may not be Upton Park, but we have a huge stadium, a great squad and an astute manager, and the team play attractive attacking footie.

Credit where credit is due, the board have really turned things around.


Pellegrini has saved West Ham Gazillions with his astute Man Management

West Ham were one of the big spenders of last Summer splashing out over £100 million to strengthen a squad that was stale and lacking in the creativity needed to give fans their beloved 'West Ham Way' of football.

David Moyes had done a good job in steadying the ship and had cleverly repositioned Marko Arnautovic into a central role. However, the board decided that they needed to think big and brought in one of the World's top managers in Manuel Pellegrini.

The Chilean endured a difficult start with four straight defeats to welcome him back into the ruthless environment of the Premiership. But even as the media swarmed, sensing a possible sacking, Pelle stood firm about his plans and his style.

Wind forward to December and the Hammers are rocking - looking at possibly seizing sixth place by the end of Christmas and with a squad that is full of performing talent.

Few managers could have handled losing the likes of Lanzini, Reid and Yarmolenko, but Pellegrini has helped underperforming players like Michail Antonio and Robert Snodgrass rediscover their mojo. Both are looking back to their best and scoring goals having weathered confidence problems in front of the West Ham faithful.

Patiently, he has reintroduced them to the squad while maintaining a ruthlessness around selection. In short, Pellegrini rewards good performances and is ultra quick in dealing with substandard play. He is one of the few Premiership managers who has the courage to replace players at half time if things are not working out and has turned a number of games around with astute decision making.

Add to that the remarkable growth of Rice and Diangana and its pretty clear that Pelle has boosted the value of our squad considerably. The whole Premiership want to try and prise Anderson and Diop from the London Stadium but you get the sense that Pellegrini's relationship with his players is strong enough to allow them to stay at the London Stadium and to believe in the West Ham story - one that looks set to rise and rise in 2019!

With the January window about to open who would have thought in early September that the Hammers would be mostly disinterested in bringing in new players (apart from a Midfielder and a right back perhaps!). We didn't get to see much of Carlos Sanchez before his unfortunate injury but given how all the other signings have worked out you would speculate that he will be another diamond!

Happy days!!!



Sunday 9 December 2018

Julien's Faux Pas #4

Another day of happiness was had at the London Stadium yesterday as West Ham put more distance between now and the dark times of last season. We no longer have Payet, Tomkins and Kouyate, but instead have Anderson, Diop and Rice. As for pitch invasions, the atmosphere has evolved and the place truly exploded when Filipe Anderson curled in West Ham's third just going to show that good football and some success helps to heal most wounds.


Saturday 8 December 2018

Anderson's Fairy Tale Unfolds...

Manuel Pellegrini has shown the kind of mettle that makes for great management since coming to West Ham last Summer. After a dreadful start that saw his side bottom of the league after 5 games, he refused to panic and even goaded the sporting press who were already calling for his head by saying that he would never change his style no matter what.

Since then, his players have adapted to his attractive and open style and the results have started to flow. After a deserved victory over Crystal Palace today, the Hammers third in a row, they have now hauled themselves up to tenth and are even eyeing Man United who are just a few points ahead and lying in sixth position. With plenty of winnable games ahead in December, 2019 seems set to see the Hammers push to a higher level.

Central to Pelle's revolution was the arrival of Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson. His transfer was drawn out before he eventually moved from Lazio to the Olympic Stadium for a club record £47million transfer fee! At the time many fans were quite sceptical about the merits of his arrival, especially since he had failed to make the cut for a relatively mediocre Brazilian squad for the World Cup.

Moreover, feedback from our contemporaries at Lazio indicated that he had enjoyed mixed fortunes in Rome and had fallen out of the starting XI and picked up an 'inconsistent' label.

And so to the Premiership. From the start it has been obvious that Felipe can play a bit! Initially he visibly struggled with the intensity of English football but demonstrated a determination to adapt. His commitment to the cause was also obvious as despite his preference for offensive play, he has not been shy in tracking back to help out with defensive duties and these 'turnovers' in possession frequently lead to some of our best attacking opportunities. Modern soccer has become like rugby whereby most teams can defend to a high level and using turnover possession is often the key to winning games.

The English game has really started to suit our Brazilian talent - Anderson likes to take chances by playing high risk balls that sometimes don't come off but when successful can carve open the opposition. In that sense, the lower emphasis upon holding possession in the Premiership (compared to the ball-mongers of Serie A for example) suits Felipe's style.

At West ham we have had a lot of skilful wide players in recent years but the majority have not been prolific goalscorers. Anderson brings all the jinky and incisive dribbling of a good winger but also has that crucial ability to take responsibility for the finished product himself. As such, defenders cannot rely upon him passing the ball as he is quite capable of finishing attacking moves on his own. His cracker against Newcastle last week was an excellent example of this where his direct and pacey running knocked the much bigger Newcastle defender aside as he plummeled the ball into the net.

Defenders cannot afford to stand off him but equally, his quick feet make any rash defending likely to end in embarrassment! His strike against Palace today was through the eye of a needle and demonstrates his incredible technical skill. His free kick was similarly tantalising and poor Wayne Hennessy could do little to keep it out without presenting Chicharito with a tap in!

Finally, the London Stadium has been a less than joyous place since our move 3 seasons ago. We were promised attractive and entertaining football - at last we have a squad who look capable of getting results while also playing football that amuses, titillates and inspires. We all yearn for a new Paolo or Payet to liven up our matchdays. Anderson is the closest we have come since Payet's disappointing exit. If he can keep up his recent form we might honestly start to mention him in the same breath as Mr Di Canio.

Just maybe, but whatever else, we are dreaming again. Thankyou Felipe!

Even better, in the past few games the unrest of last season seems a long long time ago. With Arnie out our other big names stepped up. Happy days!


Player ratings as West Ham come from behind to beat Palace

Bubbles the Bulldog was there to witness a great comeback from his beloved Hammers after they had trailed 0-1 at half time, running out 3-2 victors. Here's what he thought of the West Ham players on the day:

Lukasz Fabianski - 7

For once caught out and he was slow to react and come out to clear the danger as Palace got a soft opener. Otherwise looked assured with good distribution. Could do nothing about Palace's free kick that clanged off the crossbar just before half time or for Schlupp's goal.

Pablo Zabaleta - 7

Blessed with a wise old footballing head, Pablo looked solid in defence throughout and added to the forwards momentum with some ambitious runs in the second half. Was unlucky not to score with a deflected scorcher early in the second half.

Issa Diop - 7

Booked in the first half for a 'necessary' challenge on a marauding Andros Townsend and came close to a second yellow just before half time for a crude lunge on the edge of the Hammers box. Otherwise, was solid and dominant, as usual!

Fabian Balbuena - 7

Solid throughout with plenty of sound decision making and a determination to pass out from the back. Looks to have a great Hammers career ahead of him.

Arthur Masuaku - 6

Looked a bit shaky for the first 20 minutes as things were just not going his way. Might have done better to clear the ball for Palace's opener. Grew into his role as the game progressed and had a fine second half opening up space on the left and whipping in a fine cross that Chicharito should have converted late on. Arthur is a player of extremes!

Declan Rice - 8

Outstanding once again. You constantly have to wonder how a 19 year old can look so assured in the holding midfield role? Numerous important tackles and always in the action when needed. He plays like a young Bryan Robson or even Roy Keane depending on which country you think he will ultimately opt for!

Mark Noble - 7

Another big performance from Captain Claret. Might have done better from a few good attacking positions in the first half but keeps us ticking over and makes sure that heads don't drop when things go against us.

Robert Snodgrass - 8

What a rehabilitation for a player who bacame an outcast last season. Looked like the player we paid £10 million to Hull for three years ago as he zipped about the pitch and created numerous chances. He will be delightwd to have scored the goal that turned the tide with a classy curling finish just after half time.

Felipe Anderson -9.

Our MOTM. A constant threat throughout with jis nimble footed play tjat creates opening after opening. Topped a cracking performance off with a stunning goal on 65 minutes that looped over Hennessy and will surely win him goal of the month for the Hammers in December? He is now our top scorer this season with six goals to his name.

Lucas Perez - 6

In and out of the action in the first half but largely ineffective and will have fallen back down the pecking order after Carroll's impact. Harsh to be substituted so early but Pelle is ruthless and the change worked.

Javier Hernandez - 8

Looked lively throughout if caught (? unfairly) for two offsides early on when we looked to be building momentum. Looked very comfortable alongside Big Andy in the second half and picked up a trademark poachers goal as Hennessy spilled Anderson's rasping free kick. Almost bagged a second from Masuaku's excellent cross soon after that. A good days work!


Andy Carroll (for Perez, 46') - 8

Created a palpable sense of fear in the Palace derfence and won the free kick that led to Hernandez's goal. Adds plenty of muscle when defending set pieces as well. Great to see him back in action.

Grady Diangana (for Hernandez 75') - 6

Brings a frisson of excitement to proceedings but we were reminded of the naivity of youth as he lost Schlupp to allow Palace's second goal. He will learn!

Pedro Obiang for (Anderson, 84') - 7

A solid 10 minutes as he helped us see the game out.

Return of the Cockney Rejects!

Yes indeed, Stinky Turner and Co. did provide one of the more memorable Top of the Pops moments for Hammers fans, but Today the 'rejects' are none other than James Tomkins and Cheik Kouyate.

The departure of Tomkins for 'just' £10million a few seasons back proved to be poor business for SuperSlav as we suffered from a lack of a defensively sound right back and ultimately towards the end of the season could have done with him at CB! That said, its a measure of the improved strength of our squad that Tonks would struggle to get game time (or even bench warming opportunities) in the current squad.

Similarly, Kouyate's sale fetched nearly £10million and has probably been wise business. His energy was a real asset a few seasons back, but last year he struggled for form and seemed perpetually distracted. His poor first touch was always going to catch up on him as we have moved to a more possession hungry style, so maybe his departure was the best thing all round.

As for our current squad, we are once again looking seriously depleted as Marko seems set to be absent until January with his hamstring injury. We will miss his energy and guile. Lucas Perez did well against Cardiff and will be hoping to push on in Arnautovic's absence but given his performances prior to Cardiff, the jury is out for now.

Kouyate's departure in the Summer almost certainly extended the enigmatic Michail Antonio's career at West ham. He has really struggled for form since his injury last year but finally looks something like the player who was, lest we forget, at times almost unmarkable two years ago! He seems to have recovered that extra yard of pace that is so central to his success as, again, first touch is not his main asset. He is back in the goals and his physicality will be important in Arnie's absence.

Its hard to call how Pelle will set things out today in terms of using Snoddy, Antonio, Perez and the exciting energy that is Grady Diangana. We can expect Chicharito to continue up front and our guess is that Perez will get a rare start alongside him. Snoddy will probably start ahead of Pedro Obiang, while we expect Antonio will move up to right wing to allow the return of Zabaleta at right back while Diangana can be our gamechanger from the bench along with Big Andy if things aren't going our way.

Rory Nostradamus says 3-2 with Palace getting a dodgy penalty from Anthony Taylor but the gallant Hammers proving too much against familiar faces.

Predicted starting XI: Fabianski, Masuaku, Diop, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Noble, Rice, Snodgrass, Antonio, Hernandez, Perez.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

'Whingy' Warnock is Back: God help us!!!

Arghhhhh! Just when you thought that we had finally ditched Neil 'Warlock' Warnock back in the ghastly wilderness of the Chumpionship you find him back and ready to wage whinge-war on referees, match officials and the general vissitudes of playing football on the imperfect planet we call Earth. The pugnacious and forthright Yorkshireman has quite a bit of history with the Hammers, mainly through his leading of the whinerfest that followed the discovery of some minor administrative misunderstandings around the Tevezgate period when Mr Moany was boss at the tragic Blades of Sheffield.

After a series of failed stints at Palace and Leeds, Warnock succumbed to the pleas of Glamorous Rotherham and managed to steer them to safety from quite dire circumstances in the Championship. He was rewarded with being given the reins at Cardiff and in two seasons has performed impressively with limited resources and guided them into the Premiership.

Warnock is a passionate observer of the game but also noted for overstepping the mark on a regular basis. Whatever else, he is certainly a colourful character and an entertaining pundit. Warnock can be scathing about referees - a pattern that is all the more amusing given that he is himself a fully qualified referee but has never presided over a top level match. No doubt some of his refereeing victims would relish the opportunity to put bigmouth in the hot seat!

Having turned 70 this year, Warnock is only too aware of his inevitable demise and when asked if he would like a minutes silence to mark his passing when it occurs responded with typical Warnock wisdom: "“I don’t want silence. I want them all to be chanting ‘Warnock’s a w*nker’ over and over again. For a whole minute. That would be my ideal.”

Let's hope that the Hammers give Mr Whingy plenty to rant about tonight! Worryingly, Manuel Pellegrini has been forced to shuffle his back four due to a variety of knocks picked up in Saturday's 3-0 demolition of Newcastle. Michail Antonio is in at right back (Ouch!), while Nagelo Ogbonna is rewarded for his patience and replaces Fabien Balbuena at CB. Twinkle-toes Arthur Masuaku is at Left back, emphasising the need to play to outr strengths by taking the game to Cardiff right from the off.


Starting XI: Fabianski; Antonio, Ogbonna, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Noble (c); Snodgrass, Anderson, Arnautovic; Hernandez
Subs: Adrian, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Obiang, Diangana, Perez, Carroll


Monday 3 December 2018

Steady on there Sir!!!

After a successful mission up North at the weekend, the Hammers appear to be really losing the run of themselves! For sure, a 3-0 drubbing of the previously in form Magpies included some excellent and disciplined footy but it was only our second clean sheet of the season and we have still not managed to string together anything like a series of decent performances in a stop-start season.

However, that has not stopped a outpouring of positivity wherein Manuel Pellegrini has labelled Jack Wilshere as a £100m player (splutter, splutter!!!), while other commentators have been almost as effusive about Felipe Anderson describing him as a genius.

The Hammers have been tipped for the win by a variety of pundits with both Mystic Mark and Mrs Merson predicting easy an Hammers win. Meanwhile, the bookies seem to agree with West Ham quoted at 4-6 and Cardiff at 5-1 against the win. The consensus is that Cardiff will struggle with the Hammers attacking abilities but its worth noting that after a difficult start to life in the Premiership that Cardiff have steadied and won three of their last 6 games. Moreover, the Hammers could well find that they are without both Aaron Cresswell and Fabien Balbuena for the game.

That said, Cardiff have been poor away from home having managed only one draw in 6 games during which they have managed only two goals and conceded twelve. Under the lights at the London Stadium we will be hoping for a cracker as we are looking at a series of very winnable games ahead.

Rory Nostradamus reckons 2-0 to the Irons with Marko Arnautovic back in the goals.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Julien's Faux Pas #3

After such a fantastic performance yesterday, no doubt some of the 3,000 travelling Hammers fans will have stayed up North and availed of the famed nite out on the toon! As part of our occasional series, we are celebrating the victory with another JFP image. Perhaps the only downer of the day was that Manuel Pellegrini didn't bring on Big Andy instead of Jack Wilshere in the final few minutes - it would have been fascinating to see what reception his beloved Geordie's might have given him!

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to get a taste of the real thing, check out @Coldwar_Steve for the Christmas card offer. You get 10 cards for a tenner with proceeds going to the very worthy Mind UK. At VERYWESTHAM we don't usually bother with Crimbo cards but for Coldwar Steve we are happy to make an exception - why not reconnect with your best friends with one of his masterpieces? 

Saturday 1 December 2018

Player Ratings as Red Hot Hammers Thrash Magpies

It was a perfect start to the December campaign for Manuel Pellegrini's men as they picked up a win away to an on-form Newcastle side. Pelle will have been very pleased with the all-round display as West Ham were simply much better than the Magpies on the day. He will have enjoyed getting one over on Rafa Benitez who was all too frequently mentioned as a possible replacement for Pellegrini during the Chilean's difficult beginning at the club. Strating with an unexpectedly aggressive formation, Pellegrini threw down the gauntlet to the Geordies and watched as his troops ran the show pretty much from start to finish picking up a deserved 3-0 victory that included a rare clean sheet. Happy days and a real confidence boost ahead of Tuesday's tussle with Cardiff City at the Olympic Stadium. Here are our player ratings:
Lukasz Fabianski: 7/10

Had to make quite a lot of saves, mostly for shots from distance as Newcastle enjoyed a fair amount of benign possession and were often forced to shoot from distance as the West Ham defence looked tight and enjoyed achieving only their second clean sheet of the season. Very solid presence and has been a great acquisition.

Pablo Zabaleta: 7/10

Has proven the doubters wrong as he clearly still is at Premiership level and again demonstrated his clever footballing brain as he snuffed out Kenedy. With Ryan Fredericks out for some time, the yellow card he picked up today was the one down side in a great performance.

Issa Diop: 8/10

When the Hammers forked out £20million for the young Frenchman in the Summer many of us wondered if we were a bit hasty! Remember Savio anyone? Issa has totally silenced any doubters with a series of top performances. Yet again today he was strong and assured and took little nonsense from Rondon et al.  

Fabian Balbuena: 8/10

Another fabulous signing who enjoyed a top performance again today, showing physicality in defence and guile in possession. Superb stuff. Reminds me of Steve Potts (albeit taller!).

Aaron Cresswell: 7/10

More reliable defensively than Masuaku and this game demonstrated the difference between the two players. Cressy needs game time to build the relationship with Anderson which will see him recover to the high standards of two seasons ago that got him an England call up. Let’s hope his injury isn’t too serious.

Declan Rice - 7

Another top performance both defensively and moving forward. Has that appealing habit of moving the ball quickly. Started the move that led to Anderson’s goal with an aggressive header out of defence.  Great positional awareness allowed him to boss the midfield.

Robert Snodgrass - 8

His rehabilitation at West Ham has been an important aspect of the new regime and much needed given the relative shortage of midfielders at the club. Great cross for Chica’s first but all day he looked likely to create something.

Mark Noble: 8/10

Captain Claret just kept going all day making sure that everybody did their job while also covering an immense amount of territory. Stupid booking but otherwise he once again silenced the doubters who feel he may have too many miles on the clock – his savvy leadership more than makes up for any lack of pace. Excellent stuff!

Felipe Anderson: 8/10

When he’s good, we rock! Enjoyed himself out there today and managed to concede possession less than he sometimes does against sterner opposition. Delivery from set pieces might have been better but plenty of craft and also graft in terms of tracking back. Surprisingly strong to stay on his feet for the goal!

Chicharito: 9/10 (MOTM).

Undoubtedly his happiest day in a West Ham shirt. Pellegrini opted to play an attacking formation and gave the Mexican only his 3rd start of the season but he gave us all plenty to ponder on as he demonstrated that if you give him the service that he will deliver goals- two today in a MOTM performance.

Marko Arnautovic: 7/10

A day when it didn’t quite happen for Marko as he missed a number of decent chances, especially when West Ham were just 1-0 up. Did manage an assist for Chica’s second goal, so not a totally quiet day but we have great expectations for our talisman!


Arthur Masuaku (55'): Looked very nervy and gave away a free kick with 12 minutes left that could have ruined a great day.

Pedro Obiang (70'): Solid stuff as he shored up the midfield and allowed us to close out the game.

Jack Wilshere (85'): Good to see him back and great to get a few game minutes. Nice through pass to assist Anderson for the third goal.  

What a bench!

The irritation of trying to get something out of Manchester City has been completed and now the season really begins in earnest as the Hammers face a series of very winnable fixtures.
Starting today away to Newcastle, we the play Cardiff City (H), Crystal Palace (H), Fulham (A), Watford (H), Southampton (A), Burnley (A), and then Brighton (H) on the 2nd of January.
Anything less than ten points from those games would propel the Hammers into a relegation dog fight but with the return of Carroll, Wilshere and Noble things are looking positive.
Today, Pellegrini has again demonstrated his ruthlessness by making wholesale changes to the starting XI with Masuaku and Obiang dropped to the bench and Grady Diangana off the squad. Noble and Snodgrass come in along with a rare start for Chicharito.
Newcastle leapfrogged West Ham last week and are on a run of three straight wins. It's tight odds with the bookies with Newcastle at 6/4, West ham at 9/4 and the draw at 2/1. West ham's subs bench is possibly as strong as it has ever been so we can expect Pelle to shake it up if things don't go our way early on.
Starting XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Cresswell, Felipe Anderson, Rice, Noble (C), Snodgrass, Chicharito, Arnautovic.

 Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Ogbonna, Obiang, Wilshere, Lucas Perez, Carroll

Julien's Faux Pas #2

At this stage most of you will have missed out on grabbing one of Coldwar Steve's signed advent calenders but to lessen the blow we are continuing our series of crass rip-off's of the excellent surrealist images. With Lanzini's recovery stalled, Arnie's valiant efforts to assuage fears that at 29 years of age he might not have time to wait for the West Ham revolution to make it to Europe, and poor Arthur Masuaku firmly out in the cold, it's a confusing time at the circus we call West Ham United FC! 


BTW you can still pick up the advent calendar through @Coldwar_Steve. The last of the signed copies made £410 on ebay for MIND UK!

Christmas cards are available next week through the site and proceeds will also be donated to MIND so get a pile!