Sunday, 17 March 2019

Irish Eyes Still Smiling As Cullen Steps Up!

Happy St Paddy's Day all you Hammers folk! On the day we get to drink green Guinness and celebrate all things Irish let's consider how a the greatest Irish Hammers XI might look.

Goalkeeper: One of the more disappoibting departures of recent years was the exit of Darren Randolph as he had pushed past Adrian as the Hammers first choice keeper before a sloppy spell and then the arrival of the outstanding Mr Fabianski. For Ireland its probably just as well that Dazzler departed as he would probably of been consigned to Cup campaigns as the Polish netminder has been so impressive. Despite his relegation to Championship status,  'Randy' still gets the nod ahead of the likes of Gerry Peyton, Roy Carroll, Stephen Henderson and, dare I mention him....... Allen McNightmare!

On the defensive front the situation is less impressive. Unbalanced and not endowed with aerial presence. There would undoubtedly be much sweating at set pieces. For some reason West ham does not attract decent Irish defenders!

As full backs Joey 'the Lips' O'Brien and Georgie 'Linda' McCartney are solid if a little uninspiring in attack, but Centre back is a real patch up and forced us to bring Georgie more centrally alongside Gary Breen, with Noel Cantwell taking the left back spot.

Just to remind you that Stuttgart wasn't the first!

Midfield is by far our strongest zone. Steve Lomas as enforcer and water carrier and a nice partner for Chippy Brady. Although Brady is primarily a Gooner, we got two very decent seasons out of him that included some cracking moments, and a delightful strike against the Gooners!.

Wee Michael Hughes was a great seizure from Wimbledon - gamey, if lacking in physicality, and with a useful habit of scoring at key moments. Both Frank O’Farrell and Tommy Moroney were key contributors in the early fifties but Tommy Moroney gets the final nod, mostly based upon his presence on the glorious Ireland team that was the first foreign team to beat the old enemy on their own turf at Goodison Park in 1949.

We havent mentioned Mr R as the wounds are still open but last weeks first call up to the senior Ireland squad for Josh Cullen gives cause for hope that Irish Hamme4s will have something to feel 0roud about. Whether ha can make the transiton back to the London stadium from Charlton remains to be seen.

Up front, David Kelly underachieved – too light for top-level English football. David Connolly was too, well, David Connolly (i.e. perfectly average). Jimmy Quinn was a decent contributor in the late 80s while Robbie Keane came and went in the blink of an eye, with most of that time spent on the injury room table, but on the basis of what might have been he gets the nod, just!

And finally, Iain Dowie – a true Hammer who was not prolific by any means but always gave 100% and created opportunity for those around him. A real servant who had two determined spells at the club and is one of the more refreshing TV pundits about. Loyalty – a rare thing amongst our footballing folk these times.

So, a team that would by no means be worldbeaters, but we might expect plenty of effort and any team with Liam Brady could always find a moment of magic, while Michael Hughes would be sure to spoil a few Man United celebrations and Robbie could always find cause for a party!

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

The Statistic That Really Matters About West Ham This Season

The arrival of Manuel Pellegrini was heralded as the dawn of a new era at West Ham. Expectations were high that after enduring dour football under Allardyce and Moyes, Hammers fans might see a bit of flair and even a return to the much fabled 'West Ham Way'.

But in reality nobody really expected West Ham to break into the top six in one season. More astute observers noted that (Leicester apart) there are virtually no examples of teams managing that feat in the past decade. Realistically, transitioning from the chasing pack to top six is a 2-3 year process that requires patience and commitment - something few managers can achieve in the modern game.

However, at West Ham we have a board that do a lot of talking but are actually conservative at heart and who are astute business people. No doubt they will be delighted at a table that has been released showing the percentage change in performance for each club since last year - West Ham are the most improved side in the Premiership with 30% more points than this time last year!

The tame defeat to Cardiff last weekend may have left many fans feeling that little has changed, but in reality the club is possibly the fastest growing in the World right now with a huge new stadium, top class manager and a rapidly improving squad who (some of the time!) play attractive attack-minded football. Add in the healthy stream of youngsters that are getting valuable playing time and you have a very happy house indeed!

If West Ham are to become a top six club, this is the only realistic journey that can deliver  sustainable change. With a few more astute signings to join the definite top six quality of Rice, Diop, Anderson, Lanzini and Fabianski, West Ham can really make a charge next season!


Sunday, 10 March 2019

The West Ham Way, Part IV

Manuel Pellegrini's troops gave a masterclass in the least likeable aspect of the much-fabled 'West Ham Way' yesterday as after a few good performances where we looked to be realising our potential, we tamely conceded to a 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City.
Just as many Hammers fans were starting to dream of a late run to snatch a Europa League spot, they were brought back down to Earth with a bang as despite enjoying more than 70% of The Possession our expensive front line created very little. In comparison, Cardiff's hard-working forwards created a host of chances and thoroughly deserved their win.

There was very little to feel positive about in the game from a Westham prospective. Even after conceding two relatively soft goals the Hammers struggled to create any real pressure. Ultimately our best chance came as a result of Declan Rice decided to take matters into his own hands and forcing his way through Cardiff defence before firing a sizzling shot which came back of the inside of the post. That should have been the cue for a rampaging comeback but alas, we stuttered through to the end.

Ultimately, the game fizzled out leaving the undeniable sense that despite the improvements under Manuel Pellegrini West Ham still lack the sort of consistency that is required if we are to break through to the next level.

Next up will be Huddersfield who come to the London Stadium desperately in need of points. After today's showing, Hammers fans will be worried that Huddersfield's hungermMay make all the difference.

As for yesterday, in all honesty if you're going to give points to any club in the Premiership right now that would probably be Cardiff given their recent misfortunes 9and even with Colonel Whingepants as manager!).


Saturday, 2 March 2019

Pellegrini Shuffles the Pack: But can West Ham accomodate two Magicians in midfield?

After a decent performance but an irritating result in midweek as the Gods of Football deemed to award a hapless Man City a soft soft penalty to scuttle home 1-0, Pelle is looking for justice today and has a strong starting XI with the first trial of a combined Lanzini-Anderson attacking midfield presence. If we can get enough possession we will create chances! With Chicharito up front these will need to be on the floor but Arnie is back and ready to spring from the bench if we don't unlock Newcastle's defence. The magpies are on a decent run so it'll be a lively encounter!
The Billy Bonds Stand will be unveiled in a ceremony before kick-off - a much deserved recognition of a true legend.
Rory Nostradamus predicts a 3-1 home win.
West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble (c), Rice, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Anderson, Chicharito
Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Obiang, Nasri, Antonio, Arnautovic, Perez

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Bull-Skutter, Balderdash, Codswallop, Poppycock!!!

As a rule we don't do referee bad mouthing at VERYWESTHAM.COM. It's a hard job in the middle and its important that referees are respected and develop the confidence to make hard decisions, especially against home sides when 60,000 fans are bellowing for a call.

However, West ham can feel mighty disappointed with Referee Stuart Attwell tonight. Attwell caved in at the Etihad and awarded the Moonies a dreadfully soft penalty mid way through the second half when, in all honesty, Man City were starting to look short on ideas.

Bernardo Silva went down on the edge of the box, travelling in no particular place of note under a fearsome challenge from that fearsome man mountain Felipe Anderson!

Sergio Aguero stepped up to take the penalty and duly silenced the thousands of travelling West Ham fans who had until that point been endlessly sniggering at his truly crap hairstyle. Think Gazza Euro '96 gone wrong!

Even with that immense leg up, City still didn't look like stretching things and at the end of the day West Ham can feel pretty sore at yet another poor refereeing decision against them in games against the top six.

In Attwell's case, it wasn't even in his top ten of poor calls as he is credited with perhaps the most ridiculous refereeing error of recent history when in a Championship game between Reading and Watford in September 2008, he awarded Reading a goal for a passage of play where the ball did not go anywhere near the Watford goal! He was demoted from Premiership responsibilities in 2012 after a series of poor performances, being reinstated in 2016.

Hammers fans will hardly be thanking the FA for that call, as just when the game is trying to get on top of players cheating by going down too easily we have this type of supersoft nonsense. Its hard to imagine West Ham getting a similar decision at the other end.

In summary......Bull-Skutter, Balderdash, Codswallop, Poppycock!!!


Bizarre Team Selection as Pelle looks to Speed Merchant

The teams have been announced for tonight's clash at the Etihad and Manuel Pellegrini has pulled a real shocker!

No Noble or Arnautovic, Andy Carroll starts up front and is Captain, and we have gone for youth and pace over experience at full back with Ryan Fredericks and debutante 19 year old Ben Johnson - both naturally right sided!

It's pretty crazy stuff but maybe Pelle accepts the bookies perspective who have recognised that West Ham have very poor recent away form while high flying City have won 13 out of 14 home games this season.

To add to the total terrifyingness of the whole thing, City have a pretty full squad available. Hmmm.

West ham are 33-1 outsiders with William Hill who have city at 14-1 on and the draw an outside bet at 10-1!!!

West Ham United: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Johnson, Obiang, Rice, Antonio, Nasri, Felipe Anderson, Carroll (c)
Subs: Adrian, Zabaleta, Noble, Snodgrass, Lanzini, Diangana, Chicharito.
Manchester City: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany (c), Otamendi, Zinchenko, Gundogan, D. Silva, de Bruyne, Mahrez, Sane, Aguero
Subs: Muric, Walker, Mendy, Sandler, Foden, B.Silva, Sterling


Friday, 22 February 2019

Handy Hammers Heading up the Table

West ham commenced their charge to the top of zone two of the Premiership in earnest tonight with a 3-1 win over misfiring Fulham. In truth, the Hammers made hard work of things gifting an early goal as Pablo Zabaleta had an astonishingly poor start. However, Pellegrini's troops kept their cool and gradually overcame Fulham who fought bravely but look to lack the quality needed to maintain Premiership status.

The big talking point will undoubtedly be Chicharito's hand of God goal that got the Hammers back on level terms, but in reality awest ham had 12 corners to Fulham's none and 21 shots to Fulham's 8, underlining the home dominance.

Tasty headers from Issa Diop and Michail Antonio in his 100th game proved the difference and now with ten wins in the bag West Ham can go in chase of Watford who lead the second tier clubs with 40 points in 7th position. If both League and FA cup go to top six clubs the 7th will be a Europa League qualifying finish which would represent good progress for Pellegrini in his first season.

With Arnautovic looking hungry and focused agaon, Lanzini back in action and a host of other big names returning to fitness a push forwards could well be on. However, Man City will be a tough test having glided to a 4-0 win at the London Stadium in November. In truth, West ham had very little reward for a decent effort that day and could possibly spring a surprise at the Etihad as City have a lot going on just now.


Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Irish Hammers Can Smile Again!

Irish eyes were smiling again at West Ham as  Leanne Kiernan made a memorable return from injury with an impressive performance and a goalscoring hat-trick in an 8-1 thrashing of poor Huddersfield Town.

The 19 year old striker hails from Bailieboro in Cavan and joined the Hammers in the Summer from Shelbourne FC in Dublin has been unlucky to be out after sustaining an injury in her last performance on September 30th. 

The skillful and pacey striker marked her return with a Woman of the match performance as the Hammers booked their place in the quarter-finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.

Speaking to WHUTV she revealed “I’m just delighted to be back playing football. It’s great to get on the scoresheet and get the hat-trick but it’s about the team at the end of the day. We all played well and I’m really happy.”

After the terrible disappointment about Declan Rice's international U-turn, Irish Hammers are smiling again!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Fe Fi Fo Fum...

I smell the blood of an Englishman...

In devastating news, Irish Hammers have woken to the reality that Dekky Rice won't be leading the boys in Green as we booze our way across the globe celebrating participation at any tournament that will have us! Sadly, he has instead opted to engage with the fashion parade that is team Engerland.

While you have to respect the lads decision, it's hard not to worry that he will find himself treated like so many Hammers in previous years and left out of squads because he doesn't play with one of the top six even bigger worry is that all of this Engerland stuff may ultimately result in his leaving West Ham for one of the 'cherished' clubs. Grrrr.

As such. Declan joins the ranks of Hammers who have opted to go for England and missed out on the opportunity to be national heroes in Ireland and enjoy endless International game time in a squad that is known for its camaraderie. let's hope he fares better with his England aspirations than Mark O'Noble, Kevin O'Nolan and (probably) Billy O'Bonds! Only time will tell. Whatever else, please lets not have another Dean Ashton experience!

From VERYWESTHAM we give respect and wish him the best of luck, albeit with great disappointment and sadness.



Saturday, 9 February 2019

Julien's Faux Pas #11: Hammers already looking to the future

West Ham's clash with Crystal Palace may on the surface seem like a routine affair with modest pickings at stake (bragging rights for the Hammers / revenge for the Eagles), but at West Ham many will be playing for their Hammers careers while Palace are still well short of the points tally required for survival.

That said, West Ham fans are already looking to next season and we can expect an even bigger overhaul than Pellegrini's entrance last Summer when he brought in nine new faces - many of whom form the spine of future success (Fabianski, Diop, Anderson) while the faith he showed in Declan Rice is as good as an additional £50m signing.

With all that in mind we give you our latest offering from the surrealist circus: Julien's Faux Pas #11. 

Mystic Mark, Mrs Merson and Rory Nostradamus Predict Palace Clash

After Monday night's heroics where a poor call from the referee's assistant robbed West Ham of a deserved win, its hard to know what to expect today from Manuel's moody bunch as they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Palace will be missing ex-Hammers Kouyate and Tomkins, who are both injured, but have both Benteke and Batshuayi available to partner Saha in their attack. The Hammers, meanwhile, have Mad Marko back - the smart money is thus on a high scoring encounter as both sides look better in attack than in defence.

Mystic Mark Lawrenson has opted for a fence sitting 1-1 draw, Paul Merson reckons Palace will sneak it while the bookies favour a home win (11/10) over a draw (5/2) or Hammers win (5/2). With Cresswell and Fredericks looking more assured at full back and both Anderson and Antonio in top form to support Arnautovic up front, we reckon the smarter bet is on a Hammers win. Rory Nostradamus is calling a 2-1 win for Pelle's men which you can get 12-1 against.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Player Ratings as Referee Robs Hammers Deserved Win over Liverpool

Lukasz Fabianski - 8

Another assured performance as Poland's player of the year demonstrated his class again. A few inaccurate distributions aside, he looked calm throughout.

Ryan Fredericks- 7

Another confidence building outing as he looked a solid part of a Hammers defence that simply refused to take any nonsense from Liverpool's much fabled attack. 

Issa Diop - 8

Back to his best after a few below par perfirmances of late. Served notice that he planned to stifle Firminho, Mane and Salah and duly delivered. Classy and still only a kid!

Angelo Ogbonna- 7

Solid throughout with plenty of sound decision making once again. 

Aaron Cresswell - 7.5

Looks back to his best and had a good night defensively and also has developed a good understanding with Anderson. Masuaku is well behind him in the peckibg order at this stage. 

Declan Rice - 8.5

Tremendous again. A mate commented that he looks like a combination of Bryan Robson and Roy Keane. Hard to disagree! A big resence on the pitch throughout and getting bolder going forward as well.

Mark Noble - 8

Under the lights Captain Claret looked totally up for it from the kick off. Ran and ran and harried Liverpool while constantly keeping us ticking over. 

Robert Snodgrass - 7.5

Solid performance although a few clever bits didn't quite come off for him. A remarkable rehabilitation from the player we farmed out to Villa!

Felipe Anderson - 9

Superb. Gave Milner a hard time throughout and provided an outlet with his quick feet. Put in a few decent set pieces as well! MOTM. 

Michail Antonio -8.5

His best performance in a long time. Has rediscovered his pace and it all flows from there. Gave the usually dominant Robertson a tough time and wrapped it up with what should have been the winning goal but for a terrible refereeing decision!

Once again put in a solid 10 minutes as he helped us see the game out.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Rice Ready To Slay the CyKlopps: How West Ham Can Overcome Liverpool

Here we go. With West ham in disarray since the New Year, our top striker scoring minus points for loyalty and our defence suddenly leaking goals by the bucketload, all we need is a red hot title chasing Liverpool side arriving at the London Stadium!

Messrs Salah, Mane and Firmino ripped West Ham apart on the first day of the season dishing out a 4-0 thumping and will undoubtedly be relishing the prospect of carving the Hammers apart over the wide open spaces of the London Stadium. Even better, Manuel Pellegrini doesn't believe in trying to park the bus so we can expect a toe to toe encounter. The problem is that the Reds have massive punching power up top while we lack a happy striker right now. 

The bookies have made their views very clear with the Hammers at 7-1 against for a win, despite being the home side. Even a draw is 4-1 against!!! 'Reliable' inside sources suggest that Arnautovic is 25% likely to have recovered from the bruised foot that threatens his participation, but in all honesty the recent Marko has been a pale shadow of the Pre-Christmas version who was happy to laed the line with passion and guile.  

Otherwise, the good news is that Aaron Cresswell looks likely to recover in time to replace the hapless Arthur Masuaku. Tragically for Liverpool, Dejan Lovren is likely to miss out, but that may be a blessing in disguise.  

That said, its under the lights and we can expect a backlash from a Hammers side who were heavily criticised by Manuel Pellegrini after their dreadful performance away to Wolves last Tuesday. Remarkably, we managed to play even worse than we had in conceding 4 goals to Wimbledon who are bottom of League One just 9 days ago.

Let's hope that we can come out like a wounded animal and surprise Liverpool with our intensity. Declan Rice will surely welcome the chance to take on Jordan Henderson and Co., while Felipe Anderson is always capable of producing a moment of genius. failing that, Big Andy still has unfinished business with his former employer and is starting to get back to something like proper fitness.  

All in all, it's a David vs Goliath situation, but as all Hammers know, when you write us off we are at our most dangerous! Are you listening Mr CyKlopps? 


Has the Real Arnautovic Already Gone to China?

West Ham were enjoying a decent season - a poor start as the new Pellegrini way bedded in - but then they seemed to have found their mojo with a string of excellent performances including humbling Man United and Arsenal.

Then top striker Marco Arnautovic announced that he wanted to defect to China! After much squad-unsettling shenanigans, it appeared that the club had agreed a deal with him to stay, at least until the Summer. problem solved.

Well no, actually. The whole business seems to have upset the clubs rhythm and after an excellent  record-breaking December, they had had a series of really disappointing results including an embarrassing cup exit to League One Wimbledon and a humiliating display against Wolves last week.

Understandably, fans are wondering what has gone wrong. Trevor Turnstile, a season tickey holder in the Bobby Moore stand has come up with one intriguing explanation for the clubs sudden demise. Speaking from his backgarden manshed in Pitsea, Trev has revealed that he is pretty much certain that Arnie has been bought by a Chinese club who have then cunningly replaced him with a crude plastic facsimile. With China known for the production of cheap imitations, this may not be as whacko as it sounds - It's hard to equate the Arnautovic on show against Wolves with the real abrasive and incisive Marko! He hardly touched the ball, made few of his trademark energetic runs to create space before finally limping off with an 'injury' having barely influenced proceedings.

However, other fans have been quick to note the one similarity with the 'real' Arnautovic - the media reports have once again been all about him this week as we have sweated over his fitness for tonight's clash with Liverpool.



Thursday, 31 January 2019

Three Images That Capture Exactly Where West Ham Are Right Now

Leaving the London Stadium after the Arsenal game a few weeks back many West ham fans had a genuine sense of hope and even, dare we say it, expectation about the future. With a decent squad, a solid financial base and an astute and experienced manager things looked pretty bright - a run at the Cup and push for a top half finish seemed reasonable.

Wind forwards a fortnight and we are back in circus mode. Our main striker decides to destabilise the squad, we once again stumble against modest mid table opposition in Bournemouth and then we go into overdrive with a stunning defeat at lowly Wimbledon followed by an absolutely abject performance against Wolves wherein we didn't manage a single shot on goal and were lucky to only lose 3-0. It's hard to disagree with Pellegrini's post match analysis that 'it's hard to play worse'!

Even more worrying, Marko Arnautovic hobbled off and left the ground on crutches raising fears that he might be absent for much of his remaining time at the club! In all honesty, we should feel relieved that we have 31 points in the bag because we look lost right now!

And then Monday night brings Mo Salah and his mates to further test our dodgy defence!



Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Mystic Mark Predicts More Hammers Woe

The madness continues tonight as West Ham travel to take on Wolves. Still all over the place after The Arniegate affair, they could do with a result to steady the ship.

Arnautovic should return tonight, along with Declan Rice who sat out the miserable drubbing agaibst lowly Wimbledon at the weekend. That shoukd make for a different performance but Manuel Pellegrini will be wary of a Wolves side that deserved their win at the London stadium earlier in the season and have maintained a high standard since.

Apparently Gareth Southgate will be in attendance hoping to speak with Declan Rice about his International future.

However, 'Mystic' Mark Lawrenson reckons Wolves will coast home with a 2-0 win and the bookies tend to agree quoting then at evens with a draw at 5/2 and the Hammers at 3/1 against for a win.

All set for a Hammers victory so!

The True Cost of the Wimbledon Debacle Emerges

'No one likes us' - yeah, but some hate you more than others!

So here's the deal - having invested in flights and accommodation for three travelling from the West of Ireland to Stratford for the Liverpool game on Monday 4th February, the one result that I did not want was a draw on Saturday night. With plans to reschedule the Monday game to Sunday at noon I would have been out of pocket to the tune of £700! Definitely not a good result.

So, seeing as Pellegrini fielded an attacking side with two 'world' class strikers up front, and a decent side otherwise with a few well tested back up players coming in for game time you would have expected that West Ham would prevail against a side who cant cope in League One!

But then you've got to factor in that its the FA cup, its on telly and its an evening fixture - all bets are suddenly off!

In honesty, we expected Wimbledon to come out all guns blazing after a rousing prematch build up from Vinnie Jones. After half an hour my mate commented that once it got to half time they would be all punched out and the game would settle down and allow our technique to dominate. Ahem. Then Wimbledon scored at just the right moment - three times! 

Trailing by 3-0 a draw was really the best most West Ham fans could shout for - all except yours truly! For the first time in my life I found myself willing us not to score!!! All the while, however, I was thinking that if Millwall was the prize in the next round then I'd take the £700 hit, settle for 3-3 and take it back to the London Stadium where it would have been much harder for Wimbledon to press us into submission.

When the final whistle sounded I still had mixed emotions - the Liverpool trip was still viable but what if Wimbledon got Millwall in the next round?

Naturally, Sods law took over from that point. As Ball 2 and ball 4 were paired the realisation hit home just how cruelly the Gods of football had treated us once again.


Saturday, 26 January 2019

West Ham Wobble Their Way to Wally's Wombles

It's been another crazy week at West Ham with the news that Mad Marko has committed to stay at the club until the end of the season. Many fans will be pleased to have our best attacking threat back on board but it’s worth also noting that in the past West Ham fans have not been noted for their forgiving nature when players express anything but full commitment as Fat Frank, the Guvnor and Mr Defoe all can attest to. 

The Hammers have clearly stated their intention to have a decent pop at the FA cup and as such Arnautovic may well figure this evening as they make a short trip across London to League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon. Ex-Hammer Wally Downes is at the helm at present as the club is going through a rebuilding phase that includes a new stadium. However, on the field of play things have not been going well as apart from beating Fleetwood Town in round three have not won since St Stephen's Day  

The Wombles story is possibly one of the most uplifting in British soccer history as they rose from non-league status to achieve Premiership status, winning the FA Cup in 1988. However, for those of a certain vintage, the 1975 FA cup run, founded upon the heroics of goalkeeper Dickie Guy (now Club President) serve as one of the greatest moments of romance in the competition. The resilience of the small south London club is underlined by their phoenix like return to top flight football after being sold off and rebranded as MK Dons in 2004! 

For West Ham there are selection possibilities all over the pitch. Ryan Fredericks may return at right back after a prolonged absence due to injury. Both Andy Carroll and Samir Nasri are still building on match fitness and may well get a run out. Similarly, both Xande Silva and Grady Diangana will be hoping to get valuable game time. Presumably Adrian will attend to netminding duties. 

The Hammers travel to Kingsmeadow for the second time this season, having beaten Wimbledon 3-1 last August in the Carabao Cup. West ham are 1-3 on, Wimbledon are 8-1 against and the draw is 4-1 with the bookies. However, for many fans the real gamble underpinning today's game is the threat of a rescheduling of Monday 4th February's evening clash with Liverpool to noon on Sunday 3rd if the tie goes to a replay.  

As one of those nervous fans with multiple flights and hotel accommodation bookings riding on that not happening, i'll be hoping that Arnautovic appears as he will undoubtedly be keen to remind fans that when fit and motivated he is the best forward we have had since Dean Ashton.

Predicted Starting XI: Adrian, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice, Obiang, Diangana, Snodgrass, Arnautovic, Silva.



Sunday, 20 January 2019

Arnautovic Escape Part Two: The Truth Emerges

If you are to believe the latest rumours it appears that Marko Arnautovic's move to China is off and that he is now staying at West Ham, possibly. At this stage a high percentage of fans probably want rid of the player as his lack of loyalty is hard to forgive. In that sense, we now realise why so many Stoke fans were glad to see the back of him, talent and all, as he is a disruptive egocentric figure.

But if you pause for a moment and consider things, the move to China has always sounded a bit strange - why now? A player at the height of his powers and at 29 years is a real presence. Many have mocked his brothers statement for raising the issue of his desire for trophies. Perhaps this is the part of the statement that reveals the Austrian's true intentions - to move to one of West Ham's rivals. If so, his campaign is going perfectly according to plan!

Until now West Ham would not have remotely entertained any bid from Tottenham or Chelsea or Manchester United, but at this stage they would probably ditch him for £30 million and use the much needed cash to bring in a replacement.

Perhaps the Arnautovic brothers are not as foolish as we imagine?

Either way, the club will be held to ransom now until the end of (a) the Premiership transfer window, and (b) the Chinese transfer window in February!

Let's hope Pelle can find a way to limit the damage that will inevitably flow from this. Offloading Marko may be the best of a bad lot of possible solutions.


Julien's Faux Pas #10: Maxi Gomes Joins the Madhouse

There's hardly much to say about yesterday's defeat at Bournemouth - after the ecstacy of beating the Gooners we were (typically) back down to earth with an underpar performance. It's hard to see the logic in the sequence where we beat Arsenal, then lose to Bournemouth while Arsenal go on to beat Chelsea!

In all honesty, Bournemouth were flattered by the scoreline as Big Andy should've put the Hammers ahead but managed an unbelievable miss from a yard out. Callum Wilson underlined his potential value to West Ham, even just to stop him scoring against us!

Meanwhile the Arnie saga went to another level with his absence and rumours of a Payet-style refusal to play. Maxi Gomes would be an interesting replacement, certainly a goalscorer, but do not underestimate the value of Arnautovic's physicality in the Premiership.

In summary, (dis) order has been restored m'ludd! We give you Julien's Faux Pas #10.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Marco Baby Triangulating His Way To Premiership Rivals

It is increasingly looking like Marko Arnautovic will be leaving West Ham in the January window as his absence from today's squad for the trip to Bournemouth represents a significant escalation of the situation. While for many a move to China right now seems ludicrous, others have highlighted the extent to which he appears to be under the influence of his manager-brother Danijel who is clearly motivated by money rather than competitive success.

But perhaps that is too simplistic an assessment, as a number of top stars have looked China bound but ultimately used the negotiations to move elsewhere. Diego Costa's exit from Chelsea certainly comes to mind. If Arnautovic does make the move to China, it'll be fascinating to look at the fine detail in his contract as, at 29 years old, he might well bounce back to the Premiership after a year or even less. It's hard not to notice that any of Spurs, Man United or Chelsea would almost certainly be delighted to have his services at their disposal.

However, if that is the plan then the Arnautovic brothers should pay careful attention to the Ramires story. The Brazilian was still in his prime at Chelsea and only 28 years old when he made the move to Jiangsu Suning in January 2016 for £25 million. Things started well for him in China until he tried to engineer a move back to Benfica, his old club in Portugal, which Jiangsu blocked and then kicked him into the reserves as punishment! It would be foolish to underestimate the financial power of the big Chinese clubs and their capacity to make a point if they feel that they are being disrespected.

It might also be worth noting for Arnautovic that at the time of leaving, Ramires had won the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup during his six years at Chelsea!

Today's display at Bournemouth underlined West Ham's need for a good finisher as both Carroll and Hernandez failed to inspire while Hammers target Callum Wilson scored a stunner and was denied a second goal by the post. This was all after Andy Carroll missed a sitter that Arnie would almost certainly have buried. Sadly, at this stage the campaign has started to go all Payetesque and its hard to see Arnie coming back into the fold as many supporters will understandably feel betrayed by his actions.

Right now you can get 22/1 against him moving to Chelsea, 25/1 Man United and the intriguing 28/1 for a move to replace the injured Harry Kane at Tottenham. A move to any Chinese club is 1/5 on and its worth noting that their transfer window does not close until well into February, by which time West Ham will be well softened up towards a departure! Hmmm.


Starting XI: Big Andy goes toe to toe with Wilson to be Arnie Replacement

The teams have been announced and its pretty much as expected for the Hammers with Marko Arnautovic dropped and Andy Carroll starting with Chicharito on the bench. The Hammers are 2/1 against the win, which is understandable given West Ham's poor record in recent years against Bournemouth. 

Callum Wilson is fit and starts for Bournemouth, giving the Hammers a perfect opportunity to view a potential Arnautovic replacement. It'll be a great opportunity for Manuel Pellegrini to compare Wilson and Carroll as potential strikers to lead West Ham's line next season!

West Ham United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble (c), Antonio, Nasri, Felipe Anderson, Carroll.

Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Obiang, Snodgrass, Diangana, Chicharito, Xande Silva

Hammers Finally Identify Perfect Arnautovic Replacement

West Ham have been truly rocked by the disappointing news that their offensive talisman Marko Arnautovic wants to leave the club in search of Chinese trophies.

Happily, the astute Hammers board have been quick to respond and are rumoured to be lining up bids for a variety of top strikers across Europe.

However, perhaps the best replacement can be found in the Americas, and after careful player profiling it seems that they have identified their man!

A single-minded ruthless poacher who is abrasive and can lead from the front!

He would also make the perfect playing partner for Hammers Mexican hitman, Javier Hernandez!


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Stag or Drag: Some Thoughts on the Rice Conundrum

Ireland or England? For most occupants of the Islands of Britain and Ireland that question is a no brainer. Born of Irish emigrants, I grew up in Essex until I was ten and then made the move back to the Emerald Isle. Yes, I supported England as a kid and Ireland as an adult, the apparent contradiction of which has never really troubled me. It may seem strange to some, but you can have an allegiance to both while also being 100% committed to either.

Add in the club piece and suddenly the Irish perspective on football gets weird - rabid Irish fans of Man United can cheer with venom against those same players when they turn out for England! Personally, I don't think that I could ever cheer against a Hammer, no matter what country they might be playing for. And therein lies a key point, For many serious football fans the International thing is just a sideshow, a mere titillation that keeps us amused during every second Summer recess. Matches in which our greatest concern is that our star players don 't pick up an injury.

Yes, I am still aggrieved about Dean Ashton's career ending injury whilst on duty with England and yes, I did tremble with sadness when he scored that delightful overhead kick goal in Mark Noble's testimonial - reminding us of the tremendous talent that we were denied. And while we are on the subject, Diafra Sakho was a thorough menace to opposition defences until that controversial international break with Senegal in which he aggravated a back injury and was never the same again.

In short, Club football is where it is at and in reality neither Ireland nor England are likely to win anything of significance during the next decade. If you accept that, then its a question of where the better deal lies for those of mixed allegiance - the FAI are an amateurish outfit, prone to bad preparation and a variety of other gaffes, but ultimately the Boys in Green stick together, no big notions, no superstars, no media humiliations after poor results. Declan will know that from his time through the underage system and in the three friendlies he has appeared in to date.

In contrast, non-English observers watch with awe as the circus around each tournament unfolds. Initially inflated as major prospects, inevitably the nastier element starts to creep in and by the end of most tournaments the England squad need to go into hiding to escape the vitriol from the tabloid media. Gareth Southgate has escaped that so far, but would anyone bet that the European championships don't bring a fall from grace with all the associated unpleasantness, so much of which seems unnecessarily personal and often plain vicious.

As an Irish hammer I'd love to see Declan opt for Ireland, partly because of a sense of patriotism and the sense of hope that a player of his tremendous ability would bring to a team that at present is short on talent but big in heart. In addition, as a Hammer you want him to be happy and to dodge the bullet that is being an English international caught in the eye of the tabloids.

Maybe the final word on the matter should go to Jason McAteer who, when asked about what it was like returning to Liverpool after international duty explained that Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman would return from England duty usually quite sedate, sometimes crestfallen. In comparison, McAteer described usually feeling fully refreshed and ready for club action after what he described as 'like going on a stag weekend'!

No brainer then, I guess!

BTW Happy 20th Birthday Declan and Thank you for Saturday - we got to witness the loudest and most sustained moment of Hammers joy since the move to Stratford. Every man and his dog could sense that something really significant had just occurred and we loved it! 


Monday, 14 January 2019

Chinese Turn up the Heat in Arnautovic Campaign

Reports this morning indicate that the attempted hijacking of Marko Arnautovic by Shanghai SiPG has gone into a higher gear as the club have reportedly increased their £39 million bid to a whopping £45 million for the 29 year old.

With Oscar and Hulk already on their books, they are looking for another high profile signing to boost their profile. Arnautovic headed to Austria after Saturday's victory over Arsenal, with the intention of celebrating the Serbian New Year with his family. Hammers fans would probably prefer to hear that he is spending time with the likes of Mark Noble to steady his head rather than with his brother Danijel who seems to be the main energy driving the career-ending move.

Arnautovic has realised his best ever form at West Ham and would perhaps benefit from observing how Dimitri Payet's stratospheric rise came to an end when he moved back to Marseille under somewhat similar circumstances. Arnautovic has struggled with inconsistency during his career and really only found regular form since being switched to a central attacking role by David Moyes just over a year ago. 

Many seasoned observers would feel that he will be wasting the most productive  period of his career if he moves to the Chinese League which is regarded by many as second rate at best. Of note, Arnautovic himself has had no formal comments and much of the media speculation is surmised from his brother's comments and their reading of his body language.

Manuel Pellegrini has handled the episode quite differently from Slaven Bilic, who seemed to feel compelled to be seen to be strong with Payet and relegated him to training with the kids (including none other than Declan Rice!). Pelle has played down the affair as something that may well just blow over. One senses that Marko is quite a different person to Payet and that he is more prone to impulsive behaviour, while Payet seemed dead set on a move at any cost.

In reality, while Arnautovic has won the hearts of Hammers fans, the side has started to gel under Pellegrini to the point that fans have a handful of stars to sing about, including Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop and Declan Rice. Given the treacherous nature of the January window, maybe West Ham should bank the money and use it to prepare for a serious assault upon the Premiership next season?


Sunday, 13 January 2019

That Historic Rice Moment Seen From the Bobby Moore Stand

It's been a pretty crazy season to date. Beating Man United was certainly a high point, with the 2 minute cameo where we played keep ball one of my favourite football moments ever, but undoubtedly Declan Rice's first goal for the club was history being made - and everybody in the ground realised it as we rejoiced in one of those rare moments where the reason for spending so much time and emotional energy on a silly game where men kick a piece of leather about a field makes sense.

Following Murphy's law as my eldest son was late getting back to his seat after half time, i decided to video any key moments. Hence this delightful footage of Declan Rice's goal as seen from section 252 row 60. Sometimes i wonder if its worth all the hassle dragging ourselves out of bed at 4.45am on a dark and cold Saturday morning to make the long trip to East London from the West of Ireland, but at times like this it makes sense again.

This is what we are. COYI!!!

Is This The Trophy That Arnautovic Covets?

An image of the future that Arnie simply cannot get off his mind

Danijel Arnautovic's statement regarding his brother Marko's desire to move away from West ham to China in search of trophies is starting to attract quite a degree of ridicule. While most of us can appreciate that wages of 200k a week or more can be a tempting prospect, the opportunity to compete for the Yanjing FA Cup trophy is possibly a little less credible as a reason to exit the world's most competitive league and Football's most historic competition in the FA Cup!

OR perhaps we have got it all wrong and in Austria schoolchildren dream of scoring the goal that wins the Ping’an Chinese Super League!

Marko needs to wake up and realise that he can still make that money in 3-4 years time when similar offers will undoubtedly still be available and that for now he should focus upon doing his very best at the highest level.

The real question seems to be whether Danijel can wait that long for the cash? Such a pity as Arnie clearly loves the competitive challenge of top level football and would surely miss playing against the best if he left now.

Julien's Faux Pas #9

As the Marko Arnautovic story trundled on, 19 years old Declan Rice reminded us that modern football can still include stories that warm us to the core. In addition to bossing midfield, young Rice treated the assembled to a truly brilliant moment when he scored his first ever goal for the club, followed by the stadium exploding with joy! Arsenal simply could not match the passion of West Ham and afterwards the stadium emptied much slower than usual as fans savoured the moment.


To celebrate, let's take in Julien's Faux Pas #9.


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Forget the Chinese Whispers: Shanghai is a Stalking Horse

If we are to believe the media, Marko Arnautovic has already stated a desire to leave  West Ham (e.g. "I want to go" in Today's edition of the pointless rag that litters our trains, otherwise knoqn as the Metro). This article really is out of order as it has no such quote from Arnautovic!

To date, the only statement on the matter from Arnie's camp has been from his brother who amongst a tirade of provocative statements says that his brother wants to go to China to win trophies!

If meaningless trophies are what Marko wants, we have a small plastic model of the FA cup that is awarded to the winner of our back garden footy competition each week. It doesn't come with a massive salary (but for Marko we would certainly have a generous whiparound) but its a trophy nonetheless.

We've got another trophy for 'Prat of the Week' which we have awarded to Danijel for his efforts to destabilise Marko's position at the club just as we are on the verge of having a squad that actually can compete for trophies, and real ones at that. We'll let you gu3ss what shape the trophy is!

All the same, you have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes. When the furore over China dies down will we see the real predator in this tale....Chelsea, Man United....the rest of the top six don't need him and you'd have to think West ham are towards the top of the chasing group - now the fastest growing club in Europe?

If Marko really wants trophies, you'd have to say that after this season of building, West ham will be looking to genuinely compete in the following two seasons and have a squad that is improving at an incredible rate. For the doubters, imagine beibg able to select a West Ham frontline from Arnautovic, Lanzini, Anderson, Yarmolenko, Nasri, Carroll, Chicharito, Antonio, Diangana and Silva!

So, a word of advice to Marko - stick around and head for China and tgat £200k weekly wage in 2-3 years time when your contract is ending and you can also get a massive signing on fee.

And yes, i'd be delighted to take over as your agent when you tire of your brother's unhelpful antics!

Player Ratings as West Ham Decomission the Gunners

Lukasz Fabianski - 8

A clean sheet against his former employers will undoubtedly please him. Had to work for it as the Gooners piled out the pressure towards the end. Good distribution throughout the game provided the foundation of an assured performance.

Pablo Zabaleta - 8

How our defence looked so much more confident with him back and our overall shape was so much better. Class. Dont you wish he was 5 years younger!

Issa Diop - 8

Back to his best after a few below par performances since Zab and the General went out on sick leave. Looked like he enjoyed the battle with Arsenal's physical front unit.

Angelo Ogbonna- 8

Solid throughout with plenty of sound decision making and a determination to play out from the back. If reports of a two month absence for Balbuena are true, then Angelo demonstrated again that he is a fine replacement.

Aaron Cresswell - 8

Laid down his claim as our starting left back with a solid defensive performance along with a more than decent contribution up front as he and Felipe Anderson are finding the same frequency.

Declan Rice - 9.5

Absolutely outstanding. Wrecked Arsenal's momentum again and again in the match by always seeming to be there just when they looked to have finally picked our locks. Then topped it all off with the crucial goal! He looks bigger every time he walks on the pitch.

Mark Noble - 8.5

Captain Claret looked totally up for it from the kick off. Ran and ran and harried the opposition while constantly keeping us ticking over. There was a delightful cameo where he made a particular point of celebrating Rice's goal with him after the melee settled. Class.

Samir Nasri- 8

Pelle really dies a great job in player rehabilitation. Snodgrass, Antonio and now Nasri. Looked keen and sharp. Another great purchase by the wise one. Almost grabbed a goal early on. Left the field to massive applause - deserved too.

Felipe Anderson - 8.5.

What a signing! Not only is he our most exciting player going forward but he really puts in a decent defensive shift with his interceptions and as an outlet to break forward. Almost scored a cracker in the first half. Class - and keeps the opposition honest with his pace and dribbling ability. Even tried a Maradona-style run in the second half that almost came off....would have been our goal of the season for sure!

Michail Antonio

His best performance in a long time. Has rediscovered his pace and it all flows from there. Won an incredible amount of headers during the game and provided a level of  physical presence that allowed us to dominate for long periods and set up that winning platform.

Marko Arnautovic - 7

Understandably looked a bit distracted all afternoon. Let's hope we can avoid a Payet II affair. Regaining his match fitness with each passing week.


Andy Carroll - 7.5

A joyous entrance as he galloped about annoying the hell out of the Arsenal defence.

Robert Snodgrass- 7

Helped shore things up as we focused upon preventing an Arsenal equaliser.

Pedro Obiang - 7

Once again put in a solid 10 minutes as he helped us see the game out.

Media Wolves Circle Hammers (again)

It's become tediously predictable that every time a West Ham player hits form that the. media start speculating about a move to a 'bigger' club.

This January its the turn of Marko Arnautovic, sparing Issa Diop and / or Declan Rice and /or Felipe Anderson the dubious 'honour' of having his circumstances churned around in the media cesspool, often with false quotes thrown in to add to the hysteria.

Perusing this morning's outpourings, a tone of certainty has emerged about his departure. Hilariously, he is heading for China!!! In all honesty, West ham may have a battle to hold on to Marko in the Summer but, to a seasoned eye moving to China at this point in his career would be ridiculous. Maybe when he is 32 or 33 Marko might want to cash in with a move to China but right now he must have other priorities.

In short, Hammers fans can rest awhile, mostly because Ole Gunnar won't be given much shopping funds as Man U have essentially given up on this season.

West ham issued a statement that he has a contract and is expected to honour it. Hmmm. Its hard to know what they could say that won't add to the furore but that statement does seem a bit tetchy and has hardly calmed things.

As for Today's game, both sides are in and out at the moment but Arsenal have an irritating habit of finding their best form against West ham. With Pablo back and Antonio released to do what he is good at rather than pretending to be a full back, maybe that will tilt things in our favour. A shaky Arsenal defence needs testing and you would expect the combination of Arnie, Anderson, Nasri, Carroll and Antonio to be able to mount a decent assault upon them up front but we need to get a decent share of the possession, something that we have been so much better at under Pellegrini.

Mystic Mark Lawrenson predicts a Gooners win, citing no particular reason other than his  anti-West ham hunch. The bookies tend to agree and have West ham at 5/2 and Arsenal evens for the win. Either way, we can expect a high scoring contest.

Rory Nostradamus (who incidentally is right beside me on the morning flight from Shannon  to Stansted) reckons it'll be a 3-2 classic for the Hammers.

Predicted Starting XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Noble, Snodgrass, Anderson, Antonio, Arnautovic.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Julien's Faux Pas #8

It really was a good old fashioned FA Cup atmosphere at the London Stadium yesterday as the mighty Hammers outclassed the gutsy Blues to move into the Fourth round. It's enough to make you want to don a claret n blue rosette and swivel your wooden ratchet a few times.

To celebrate, let's have another Coldwar Steve-style image...