Monday, 11 November 2019

What is actually wrong with West Ham?


By guest journo James Meagher.
Many a West Ham fan must be puzzled by our failure to win in the last 6 games, especially after a bright start to the season ( ignoring a drubbing by the defending champions). Now all hope seems lost after a horrendous result against Burnley where we were barely in the game and created little of note. Many are screaming and shouting about tactics and the personnel on the pitch (yes, you - Roberto). While these are valid complaints there is a much longer standing issue that the club has had that we have been concealing for some time before it reared it’s filthy head. 
West Ham have had defensive frailties for a while now with very brief periods of competency, all while having decent if not down right sensational personnel at time. As an individual, Issa Diop is an man mountain of a defender while Fabian Balbuena has had a difficult season - he was sensational last year as the 'Generalx of our defence. In the past we’ve been blessed with Winston Reid and Ginger Pele (James Collins). While they haven’t been world beaters, they have certainly been above average centre backs. Cresswell’s form may have been up and down but there is no doubting the defensive quality the man has demonstrated over his tenure at the club. The right back position is a hot debate in my household so we shall not go there other then to say that we are fans of Ryan Fredericks and believe that the Michail Antonio experiment there should have ended before it started. 
So why have we conceded so many goals?? Last season we conceded 55 goals, the season before 68, and in the 16/17 season 64. In all bar last season we conceded more than teams that were relegated. So why?

We’ve all seen the ads on TV that tell you driving too fast will cause accidents and deaths on the road. What is left out is that driving too slow is even more dangerous as it infuriates drivers around you and causes rash decision making. Here lies our problem. West ham have a slow team. To start with the less-problematic positions - Haller and Yarmolenko are not the quickest duo, especially for a front man and winger. Many people here will point to Zabaleta starting against Newcastle and the horror that ensued but, this is only the most recent case. Where out beloved hammers have really lacked pace is in the defensive midfielder role. Long has Noble patrolled this region for the Irons with Declan Rice more recently taking the role, neither of which have pace to burn. The last time we had any pace in the middle of the park was Cheikhou Kouyate who was ousted from the club due to long periods of poor form. 
If we look at this position popularised by Makelele it requires a tactical awareness second to none on the pitch. While certainly Noble has this is spades and Rice is developing, there is a pace required to mitigate any mistake made. Think N’golo Kante. He’s like a rash. He’s everywhere and reads the game like most read a children’s book however, he also is quick across the pitch to cover any mistakes that may have occurred. This ability is a large part of the reason he won the premier league with Leicester City and then Chelsea in back to back years. This combination is rare but it can be found. Liverpool have players like Fabinho and Wijnaldum who may not be sprinters but are no slouches either. Man City have Fernandinho and now Rodri. Ndidi at Leicester. Man united have sought a player for this position for years, hence signing Nemanja Matic in the hopes he could replicate his previous form. There are few players who can play this role without pace. Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso to name a few but they are both players far beyond what West Ham currently have in our midfield. This lack of pace and ability to cover ground means our defence is left exposed and the goals fly in. Then as all teams do chasing a game, we push up to try and create pressure and chances but this further exposes our defence, especially to counter attack. This cycle continues and is evident in so many game we lose. The games we win we usually score first and dominate the ball because we don’t have to pile men forward seeking an equaliser.
I fear that until we solve this pace issue in the middle of the park we are destined to forever be on a rollercoaster with our beloved club. We can sit and debate the tactics and why is no one close to Haller (does he smell funny) but until we solve the fact we regularly get overrun in midfield not due to a lack of commitment or passion from the men who fill this roles but due to a lack of pace and quickness.
The January transfer window requires us to acquire something better than Carlos Sanchez!

Monday, 23 September 2019

The View From the Bobby Moore Stand


It never ceases to amaze me how frequently you are discussing a game with a fellow fan who has a totally (often opposing) take on proceedings! After last season's win over Man United I got chatting with another Hammer flying home through Stansted who reckoned Felipe Anderson was still unconvincing and not tracking back for defensive duties!!!

These variances also happen within your own mind - on Monday, watching on TV I thought Haller looked off the pace, clumsy and disconnected from the team's flow. On Sunday, in the flesh, he was the fulcrum of our efforts, holding the ball up over a dozen times when any of our other recent strikers would have lost possession (yes, Arnie as well as Chicharito!). Moreiver, his link play was calm and assured - it's a pity we didn't flash a few crosses in as he looked well able for Harry Maguire.

Reading a report tonight, one pundit reckoned Maguire had bossed Haller while from my vantage point Sebastien demonstrated why England need to be careful before over-relying on the not so nimble defender who will struggle against top strikers.

From the upper zones of the Bobby Moore stand we got to see how much Yarmolenko and Anderson moved to unnerve the Man Utd defence, switching wings 4 times in the first 20 minutes! We also got to see how dominant Issa Diop was and that the pace of the man is astounding! Add to that how well Anderson holds the ball when we want to clear out from defence and we are starting to feel excited about our chances of pushing on from our current lofty position in the Premiership!

Add to all of that the sense of certainty that Cressy would bury his (second) free kick. Having seen the first slide just over the bar, it was clear that he was going to get it spot on as he stepped up in the 84th minute......yesssssss!

COYI!!!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Bobby Bubbles' Player Ratings as the Hammers Squash Man United



There were joyous scenes again at the London Stadium today as West Ham beat off the rather meek challenge of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils. A super goal just before half time set the scene and, in truth, there only ever looked like there could be one winner. Aaron Cresswell's sublime free kick essentially ended the game and there was even time for the Hammers to indulge in another bout of keep ball against the once Premiership heavyweights! We are now up to 4th and looking good.  Bobby Bubbles gives his verdict on the days proceedings:

Fabianski:  Calm and assured as always. Surprisingly quiet day between the sticks but still pulled off two important blocks that could have changed the game. 8/10

Fredericks Having a good season and looking like the player we hoped when he arrived just over a year ago. Great pace and getting more confident going forward and building a good understanding with Yarmo.  8/10.

Ogbonna: Looked solid but picked up a foolish early yellow card that on another day might have been costly. 7/10.

Diop:  A colossus at the back. Huge presence, great timing and reading of the game Nd has the pace to match almost any forward. Had few difficulties with Rashford today. 8.5/10.

Cresswell: Possibly our man of the match as he was as good if not better than the lively Yarmolenko. Served a warning with a close free kick early in the 2nd half before nailing the second opportunity. Excellent in defence and attack. 9/10.

Rice: Solid throughout and saved our bacon with a trademark 'oh no you fon't' interception in the first half. A big presence as we have come to expect. 8/10.

Noble: Captain Claret was tremendous once again. Soooo competitive and he really leads by example. He loves beating Man U as well!. 8/10.

Fornals:  Looked a bit like the newbie and seemed a tad cautious given his Lanzini- style roving role. Will benefit from the game time. 7/10.

Anderson: Always looks capable of opening things up and tormented down the right all day. Also has a handy k ack of dispossessing opponents when in defence. 8/10.

Haller: Excellent stuff. Absolutely bossed Maguire and was sensational at holding the ball up all day long. Great link play. You with our wide men would whip a few crosses in for hom as he looks tremendous in the air! 8.5/10.

Yarmolenko: Looked really up for it from the off. Had a classy flick to bring us out of a tight defensive position and built from there. Great skill for the goal but also made a crucial defensive interception when Man U looked set to steal an equaliser! He'll be smiling tonite!!! 9/10.

Substitutes

Wilshere, Zabaletta and Snodgras all slipped into gear seamlessly and kept Man Utd quiet to the end.

MOTM: We reckon it should be shared by Cresswell and Yarmolenko!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Beware of that Icarus Effect!


There's a hugely positive vibe around the London Stadium right now. Quietly, Hammers fans feel confident that we can overcome Manchester United tomorrow and genuinely demonstrate our top six credentials. With a spine of Fabianski, Diop, Rice and Haller, complemented by the creativity of Lanzini, Anderson and Yarmolenko, the current West ham team can cause most teams major problems. Add to that the assured and astute leadership of Mark Noble on the field and Manuel Pellegrini as manager, the club is in good shape.

When the Hammers first moved to the expanses of the London Stadium the space proved to be a disadvantage as the team had been used to pummeling visitors in the tight confines of the cauldronous Upton Park. Pellegrini has adapted our style, added pace and an ability to use the space to torment the opposition and accordingly our home form has soared. Pellegrini insists on going toe to toe with all comers and on occasion that can backfire - like the 5-0 drubbing by Champions Man City on opening day.

However, top six sides take the game to their opponents and the modern West Ham have no qualms about using attack as their best winning strategy. Our possession and completed pass percentages have gone up dramatically and, let's be honest, our games are much more entertaining to watch - even if we do concede more goals than we would sometimes like to.

Monday night could be seen as a missed opportunity to go level 2nd in the Premiership but for now it may be better to lurk around the margins of the top six and hopefully visiting teams won't adopt too cagey an approach because open free flowing games suit this side. With our deficit of attacking replacements we do not want visiting sides arriving with the intention of kicking out a draw and hoping to catch us on the break. Let's avoid flying too close to the sun for now and keep a steady momentum.

Tomorrow's encounter looks to be a mouth watering prospect as Man United will come looking to play and that will likely suit Mr Pellegrini's musketeers. Expect a high scoring game!

Rory Nostradamus is predicting a 3-2 win.

COYI!!!

It's the 'Barry McGuigan' but there's no sign of Lanzini?



West ham 'welcome' Manchester United to the London stadium tomorrow looking to further their push for top six status. After a decent point away to Villa on Monday, despite playing the final quarter with only ten men, spirits are high in the camp. However, key man Manuel Lanzini is a doubt and sat out training today. With Fornals pushing for a starting spot West ham should still hope to reproduce last season's enjoyable 3-1 victory.

Of note, West ham have only beaten Man United twice in their last 21 Premiership meetings (W2 D5 L14) and in terms of their top six aspirations need to improve on their poor record against top six teams which stands at only three wins in their last 20 matches (W3 D6 L11)!

The visitors are running hot and cold so far this season and will be without both Pogba and Martial which will place a lot of responsibility on Marcus Rashford to lead the line. The clash between Sebastien Haller and Harry Maguire will be fascinating and will be a major factor in deciding the result.

Aaron Cresswell comes in for the suspended Arthur Masuaku but otherwise West ham will hope to start unchanged if Lanzini can make the cut.

Anthony Taylor is the match referee and will hopefully do a better job than the dreadful Mike Dean did on Monday night.

The Hammers are rated as outsiders by the bookies and look a decent bet for the win at 9/4. Man united are 6/5 while the draw is 5/2. Mystic Mark Lawrenson has tipped the Hammers to win, which may be a mixed blessing! Similarly, Charlie Nicholas reckons the Hammers will prevail while Michael Owen is sitting on the fence by predicting a draw.

Fans should note that the club are running an exhibit of memorabilia from the 1980 FA cup victory which includes Alvin Martin's medal - surely worth a visit!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

The sobering reality of West ham's visit to Villa Park


While many fans were happy after a taking a draw on Monday  at Aston Villa despite being reduced to 10 men by the truly awful Mike Dean, In reality the performance highlighted a whole host of shortcomings in our current squad.

Although the team rallied well after Arthur Masuaka's harsh dismissal with more than 20 minutes of the game remaining, the fact is that prior to that West ham had been well outplayed by the recently promoted villains.

Reviewing the highlights shows just how well Fabianski played to keep Aston Villa goal-less. It would be harsh to single out any of our defence as having had a poor game, we still conceded half a dozen very good chances that most premiership teams would have expected to convert at least 2 or 3 into goals.

Even worse upfront we looked sluggish and disorganised. Felipe Anderson in particular looked tired and almost disinterested as he  spurned a number of decent opportunities to make his trademark runs at goal. When he was substituted to reconfigure our defence after Masuaku's  dismissal he looked exhausted. 

On the other wing, Andriy Yarmolenko was off the pace and in reality has not yet regained his match sharpness since returning from his awful Achilles tendon injury last year. 

Manuel Lanzini was kept disappointingly quiet for most of the 1st half but thankfully did up his game when needed in the latter stages of the game. 

As for Sebastien Haller, although he has managed a decent haul of goals so far, it is also evident that he is not particularly pacey and for much of the time looked awkward in possession. The fact that we lack a decent replacement up top is a real worry as we face some season defining games. The possibility that he might get injured in the time until the January transfer window is a terrifying thought!

On the plus side, Issa Diop had an excellent game, while once again Captain  Claret Mark Noble provided the engine that kept our team taking over and his footballing brain was a major part of our handling those difficult last 25 minutes when we were a man down.

Fornal's performance was also a bright point as he looked sharp and surely has earned the right to have a chance with a starting berth in the coming series of games?

Declan Rice had a solid performance but in the battle of the 'plastic paddies' Young Grealish came out on top as the best player on show.  In fairness, Rice is a different kind of midfielder to Grealish, but it is clear that he is not yet by any means the finished article.

And so we move on to Man United at the London stadium on Sunday. They still look lacking in cohesiveness and tonight stumbled home with a 1-0 win against Kazakhstani giants Astani FC at Ye Olde Trafforde. Sunday's game provides a great opportunity to lay down a marker in our push for a top 6 position. 

Let's hope we can get our attacking game in order - can anyone forget that wonderful 120 seconds of keepball when we were 3-1 up against them last season?



Sunday, 25 August 2019

Bobby Bubbles Player Ratings in the Win at Watford



Watford are one of our least popular opponents but Saturday demonstrated how we have started to get to grips with the Hornets. Building from our 4-1 thrashing of them at the end of last season. after a close first half yesterday Pellegrini's troops pushed on for a deserved 3-1 win that has really kick started our season. Bobby Bubbles gives his verdict:

Pellegrini: Bringing on Antonio early in the second half was the master stroke that changed the game. However, we still look disorganised and jumpy at the back! 8/10.

Fabianski:  Calm and assured despite a shaky defence in front of him. No blame for the goal. 8/10

Fredericks:  Solid if unremarkable stuff. Needs to bring more to our attack but still getting game time with Yarmo and Antonio. 7/10.

Ogbonna: More assured after the poor performance at Brighton where all the transfer talk clearly unsettled him. 7/10.

Diop:  You sense that he prefers playing alongside Balbuena. Solid performance, albeit with the odd bit of chaos but Watford are a hard side to defend against as they have a very fluid attack. 7/10

Masuaku: Not right enough for the goal but in fairness our midfield was too casual getting back and left us horribly exposed. Otherwise, another decent performance and he is decent going forward7/10.

Rice: Solid throughout without any remarkable moments. 7/10.

Noble: Captain Claret is back! A trademark cool penalty and usual strong leadership throughout. His return was undoubtedly a major factor in our getting the win. 8/10.

Lanzini:  Looks right back to his old self and back on the pace. Excellent play leading up to the penalty. Tricky throughout. 8/10.

Anderson: Always looks capable of opening things up and did so for the crucial second goal. 8/10.

Haller: Excellent stuff. Looks the real deal - pacy, skilful, two-footed and knows where the net is as he demonstrated twice. The 2nd goal was a delight. The first of many MOTMs we hope! 9/10.

Yarmolenko: Still finding his feet again but had some good moments before a surprisingly early substitution. 7/10.

Substitutes

Antonio: A real game changer with his physicality and movement. Almost scored twice with the second effort responsible for our third goal. It's hard to know whether he should start or provide a super sub function??? 8/10.

Fornals: No major impact 5/10.

Next up Norwich and the chance to get into the top half. This time last year we were pointless...

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Wholesale Changes as Hammers Look to Kickstart Season


After a humiliating 5-0 home defeat to Man City, West ham now look to an away trip to Brighton to get their season started in earnest. The absence of seb Haller and Felipe Anderson is a big loss for the Hammers. Moreover, Brighton won 3-0 away to Watford last week and may expect to get a good result today but Pellegrini has shaken things up and has interesting options on the bench with Yarmolenko, Antonio and Ajeti. 

The awarding of the captains armband to incoming Angelo Ogbonna speaks volumes as to how close the call is for centre back berths at present. 

Rory Nostradamus predicts a 2-2 draw.

Starting XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Ogbonna, Diop, Masuaku, Rice, Wilshere, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Fornals, Hernandez

Substitutes: Roberto, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Sanchez, Antonio, Yarmolenko, Ajeti
 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Here We Go


The Hammers may have a snazzy new kit but there may not be a lot else to celebrate about  opener against the irrepressible Man City. Our recent record gives little cause for optimism as we have continued to leak goals at a hefty rate in preseason and our results against City themselves have been conclusively disappointing in recent times, including another 4 goal concession at the Asia trophy in July. 

However, it's a new start and West Ham have some new blood who can hopefully make a difference. Declan Rice is a year older and will look to make a bigger impact in midfield compared with the total concession of recent encounters. It's also worth noting that although the Hammers were thumped 0-4 in the equivalent fixture last November, we matched City in chances created! Sadly, we learned how clinical they can be. Equally, at City in February, they stumbled home 1-0 courtesy of a VERY dodgy penalty decision. 

Up front, newbie Seb Haller has been forthright in his assessment of the game!  In a Daily Mirror piece he revealed "What a sh*t game to start with!.....There are better games to build your confidence. Hopefully I will touch the ball!"

Pellegrini doesn't do park the bus tactics so we can expect a high scoring thriller! We reckon City will be too strong but are opting for a 2-2 draw with Haller and one other pitching in for the Hammers.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

The image that Hammers Fans most want to see right now!



With our last post recalling the Incegate fiasco where the Guvnor had his picture released in his new clubs colours before the deal was official, switch forward to 2019 and such misleading imagery is so much easier to put out there!

So, as Italian press reveals that Sebastien Haller is on his way to the London stadium for E40m from Eintract Frankfurt the Hammers are looking forward to welcoming a player often referred to as the new David Trezeguet. Fast and powerful, he looks well suited to the Premier League and notched 19 goals last year in the Bundesliga along with a hoist of valuable assists- stats that outperform Mr Maxi Gomes!

Fingers crossed, here is how he will look in the handsome new kit!


Traitor-Rator: Who is West Ham's biggest Ever Judas?


After all of the positivity of last season when after a poor start the squad found its mojo and delivered a host of good results playing attractive football, once again we now face falling back to where we started. 

With Marko Arnautovic's departure, the club are struggling to identify a forward who can provide the regular supply of goals that would allow the club to push to the next level and maybe even European football. 

With the Maxi Gomez deal all but dead, its hard to see who might come in. As a much needed distraction, let's focus our fury on Arnie and ask - is he the worst ever Judas to play for the club?

To add a little objectivity, we have rated our top four traitors according to the following characteristics; 
1. How two faced was the departure?
2. How self serving was he in making it happen?
3. How much damage did it do to the club at the time?
4. How unpleasant was he after the 'escape'?
5. Looking back, can there be any forgiveness?

Let's start with that 'Big time Charlie', Paul Ince. A childhood Hammer, Ince was one of the few positives to emerge in the Post-Billy Bonds era and despite decent personal performances was part of the relegated side in 1989 which saw John lyall depart after 15 years at the helm. Ince aws photographed in a Manchester United shirt to save him having to come back from holidays for a new signing photograph for the press, the deal was postponed as he failed the initial medical. However, the tabloids still published the picture and all hell broke out! Ince escaped after a second medical and one game into the 1989-1990 season. The departure was badly managed but Ince has cited that at 21 years old he was naive. In truth, the club was in a mess and had a yoyo period for the following 4 seasons getting relegated and promoted twice and Ince was a wanted player at a selling club. He enjoyed playing the panto villain in matches between Man utd and the Hammers but has not spoken negatively of the club over the years.
1. How two faced was the departure? 2/5
2. How self serving was he in making it happen? 2/5
3. How much damage did it do to the club at the time? 3/5
4. How unpleasant was he after the 'escape'? 2/5
5. Looking back, can there be any forgiveness? 2/5
Total score 11/25.

Next up is Jermain Defoe. Also 21 years old, he was a bright young star of an amazing Hammers squad who somehow managed to get relegated in 2004 with a squad teeming with stars but low on luck! While the Hammers can claim the greatest ever escae from relegation in 2007, 2004 was surely the stupidest relegation from the Premiership? Defoe reacted badly to the relegation and within 24 hours made a written request for a transfer. Distressed fans focused their annoyance on his insensitivity and he was turned down by the club. He stareted the following season at West Ham but refused to sign a new contract and had an obviously poor attitude, picking up three red cards in 22 appearances before the club lost patience and sold him to Spurs. Over the years he has repeatedly  apologised to supporters for mishandling the move due to his young age and often expressed a desire to return to make amends. 
1. How two faced was the departure? 2/5
2. How self serving was he in making it happen? 4/5
3. How much damage did it do to the club at the time? 3/5
4. How unpleasant was he after the 'escape'? 1/5
5. Looking back, can there be any forgiveness? 1/5
Total score 11/25.

Et maintenant, c'est Dimitri Payet. Surely the most naturally gifted Hammer of recent times. Payet arrived in June 2015 and quickly established himself as a fans favourite with a series of impressive performances that woshortlisted him for PFA player of the year while he received the Hammer of the year award. A lucrative new contract arrived then suddenly in January 2017 (aged 29) he refused to play for the club stating that he wanted to return to Olympic Marseille. After much huffing and puffing he left for a modest fee. He later stated that he felt the club lacked ambition and that he was 'bored'.
1. How two faced was the departure? 2/5
2. How self serving was he in making it happen? 5/5
3. How much damage did it do to the club at the time? 4/5
4. How unpleasant was he after the 'escape'? 4/5
5. Looking back, can there be any forgiveness? 4/5
Total score 19/25.

So finally, Mad Marko Arnautovic. We cant say that we weren't warned by Stoke fans after he smahed his way out of their club to join the Hammers. He arrived in Summer 2017 and after a poor start switched to a new central attacking role that proved a piece of David Moyes genius. 11 goals and Hammer of the year award followed. On to this season and he started getting restless before Christmas as rumours of Chinese interest surfaced. After much stealth, using his agent brother Danijel to voice the Mr Hyde half of his persona, he seemed placated by a big new deal. He denied ever wanting to leave but then submiited a transfer request in mid Summer and forced a bargain purchase for Shanghai SPG where he will presumably see out his career being paid huge money in a pointless league. As yet there have been no noises from Marko about his departure but the series of incredibly two-faced statements in his final six months will surely annoy fans for a long time! The difficulty replacing him is currently hurting the club but Manuel Pellegrini has a talent for bringing in top players so we wait in hope!

1. How two faced was the departure? 5/5
2. How self serving was he in making it happen? 5/5
3. How much damage did it do to the club at the time? 3/5
4. How unpleasant was he after the 'escape'? 1/5
5. Looking back, can there be any forgiveness? 5/5
Total score 19/25.

Wow!!! A draw between Marko and Dimi!!! Arnie will be furious as he loves to hog the limelight. It's interesting how our old skool traitors are lightweight compared with the two-faced mercenaries of the modern era! 





Monday, 29 April 2019

Julien's Faux Pas #14: Neighbours...

Oh yes, after the sensational events of the weekend let's celebrate with a JFP to commemorate the occasion of West Ham becoming the first away side to score at Tottenham's new home and, of course, the first to slay the Hotspurs!

How many celebrity Hammers can you identify and one cheeky sod has made a double appearance?

Enjoy!!!


Why not have a little sing along as you savour the scene?

Neighbours,
Everybody needs good neighbours
Just a friendly wave each morning
Helps to make a better day
 
Neighbours,
Need to get to know eachother
Next door is only a footstep away
 
Neighbours,
Everybody needs good neighbours
With a little understanding
You can find the perfect blend
 
Neighbours,
Should be there for one another
That's when good neighbours become good friends
 
COYI!!!

 

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Bobby Bubbles Player Ratings as Hammers Humble Hotspurs


Lukasz Fabianski - 10

Has had an outstanding season and once again was impeccable between the sticks. Pulled off a number of crucial saves with early two stops when Son looked set to score possibly the most important.

Ryan Fredericks -10

Really starting to find his feet in the past few games. His pace was important today and he used to Great effect on a number of occasions including an absolutely crucial block towards the end.

Issa Diop - 10

Most West Ham fans are of the view that our best centre-back partnership consists of Balbuena and Diop (Sorry Angelo!). Today's performance cemented that view as Issa looked back to his best and even showed some attacking prowess with a barnstorming run towards the end. Young players are prone to periods of loss of focus and he has come through his!

Fabian Balbuena - 10

A towering presence at the back and at this stage looks back to full match fitness after his injury over the Christmas period. Topped things off with the crucial for clearance off the line at the very end. Outstanding!

Arthur Masuaku - 10

Only a month ago he looked to be on his way out of the club, but after a series of excellent performances (where he's looked much steadier in defence) he looks to have a real future of the club next season.

Declan Rice - 10

Absolutely brilliant once again. Seems to have boundless energy. Another memorable performance as he put himself about with Eric Dier's late entrance only serving to underline how much better Dekky is as a defensive midfielder option!  He really is good enough to build team around over the next couple of years.

Mark Noble - 10

it's hard to imagine life  without Captain Claret  and today was just the latest example of his total commitment to the club. Above all other players of recent times, Noble deserved to be on the West Ham team that goes down in history as the first to beat Spurs at their new ground. Class.

Robert Snodgrass - 10

Has totally turned it around at West Ham and is now a fans favourite. Not afraid to put in about a bit and picked up a yellow card for his troubles today. Ran his socks off until he was substituted.

Felipe Anderson - 10

Absolutely brilliant again and a constant threat to Spurs. Hasn't scored for a while but had z couple of close efforts and, as always, can hold onto the ball when needed with his superquick feet.

Michail Antonio - 10

Put simply, he has recovered his pace after all those hamstring issues of last year and is thoroughly enjoying himself. Superb finish for a memorable goal and almost nabbed a second!

Marko Arnautovic - 10

His best game in a while - looked up for it again....who knows what will happen in the Summer.  

Saturday, 27 April 2019

That One's for Sir Alf!

Garnett, not Ramsay!

The famous West Ham fan of TV fiction, Alf Garnett is credited with the phrase "Football is a working class ballet". If it is, West Ham were the best dancers today as Michail Antonio scored the only goal as West Ham made their way into the history books as the first side to win at Spurs new ground!

Ironically, Warren Mitchell - the actor who played Garnett was a Spud in real life and must have found it hard to cheer on the Hammers instead of his beloved Spurs but the scriptwriters wanted a club that truly represented the working class and between West Ham and Spurs there could be no competition in that regard.

Antonio's goal was a stunner and fit to grace any game but as Jean-Paul Sartre once commented “In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.” In this case, the opposition were fitting recipients of such a work of art.

COYI!!!



Sister Sledge Time for Tragic Spurs

Michail Antonio cemented his place in the history books as he scored the first ever goal against Tottenham Hotspur at their new stadium - and what a goal it was, as West Ham went on to inflict the first ever defeat at their new stadium on their greatest rivals - tragic Spurs.
 
The goal was an outstanding work of art - Marko Arnautović picked up the ball out wide on the right, he shimmied and turned before delivering a delicately weighted pass over Toby Alderweireld onto the chest of Antonio, who gently took it down before smacking a stunner past the helpless Hugo Lloris to give West Ham the lead.

There then followed the latest in Antonio's crazy goal celebrations as he engaged in some bull taming-style antics that he later revealed were a take on one of Dan Rue's dancing moves! If you thought stroking the pitch, doing a Homer Simpson or a cha cha dance were crazy, this one was on another level!!!

The heartbreak for Spurs looks set to continue as the defeat allows their close rivals to gain crucial ground in the fight for a champion's League spot for next year. Given their propensity for choking when under pressure, its stating to look bad for them to hold on to a top 4 spot!

Meanwhile, the Hammers are off to celebrate their latest triumph over their nearest neighbours - this one is up there with the best!!!

COYI!!!





 

Pelle Springs a Surprise for the Barry McGuigan!



Here we go - as the perpslang goes, it really is the big un! 

Pelle has, as usual, pulled a surprise by changing his defence, bringing Issa Diop back into the starting XI. Along with Ryan Fredericks who comes in for Pablo Zabaleta, will be lookibg to shore up a Hammers defence tgat just keeps leaking goals. Otherwise, the only (minor) surprise is tgat Arnautovic holds on to his starting berth - a real measure of where reinforcements are needed as most clubs would have dropped the totally out of sorts striker by now but Pellegrini lacks a suitable replacement. That said, this would be a perfect game for Arnie to remibd us all that he has the ability if not always the temperament!


West Ham United: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Rice, Antonio, Noble (c), Snodgrass, Anderson, Arnautovic.

Subs: Adrian, Zabaleta, Obiang, Chicharito, Wilshere, Ogbonna, Perez.

Here's why West Ham will win against Spurs today...



Over the years there has been much debate as to what constitutes the so called ‘West Ham Way’. For most Hammers fans the answer is quite simple- it relates to our tradition of playing open football with an emphasis on skillful passing and attacking play.

That said, there are a number of other elements that include developing youth through our fabled academy and then giving yhem the chance to develop on the big stage.

However, the ‘West Ham Way’ isn't entirely positive in character as it also includes a frustrating inconsistency and a tendency to unexpectedly lose games just when we seem to be developing some momentum and ready to push towards success.

Also in the list of negative attributes is an unsettling pattern of allowing ‘bigger’ clubs to steal our best talent thus posing a major barrier to the club making the transition to the very highest level. The Sullivan and Gold era has brought financial stability as we are now in the top 20 richest clubs in the World and do no need to sell our top players anymore.

For many fans the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini signalled a return of the positive elements of the ‘West Ham Way’ with open and attractive football after the dirge of Moyes and Allardyce. There was also a belief that our days of being a selling club are over and that we might wave bye bye to our traditional inconsistency on the field of play...

However, on the evidence of this season it appears that old habits die hard as despite convincing victories over the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, the Hammers have  succumbed to Cardiff City and were dumped out of the FA cup in an emphatic manner by League Two side Wimbledon!

Also, recent disappointing results against Manchester United - where we managed to lose a game that we totally dominated due to a number of dreadful refereeing decisions followed by last weekend's disappointing draw with Leicester where Pellegrini's side were denied a perfectly good goal which would have put them 3-1 up with a matter of minutes to play, then managed to allow Leicester to score a dramatic but undeserved equalizer in injury time. They say that refereeing decisions balance out over the course of time but many West Ham fans will disagree and feel that another negative aspect of the West Ham Way is the tendency for refereeing decisions to consistently go against us!

On to today's game, where Pellegrini's troops take on a Tottenham side who are in fine form since moving to their new state-of-the-art stadium. Spurs remain unbeaten at their new home but should brace themselves for another aspect of the ‘West Ham way’  - to turn on the style when all the odds are against it and wreck our enemy’s buzz just when the party is getting started! For seasoned observers it would come as no surprise if West Ham were to emerge today as the first team to beat Spurs at their new home!

The bookies see things differently however with Spurs 5/2 on for the win while the Hammers are 7/1 against. Rory Nostradamus reckons 5/1 for the draw represents the best odds and is predicting a lively 2-2 encounter!

Don’t forget the game is an early Kick off with festivities getting under way at 12.30.

COYI!!!



Saturday, 20 April 2019

Starting XI Revealed: But Which Version Will Turn Up?



The Starting XIs are out and Manuel Pellegrini has gone with a predictable starting XI. The real question today is whether the real West Ham that we saw outplay Man United last week will turn up or will it be the meek pretenders who were totally ineffective against Everton the week before!

As the great John Peel commented about the wonderful Mark E Smith and the Fall......Always different, always the same!

Perhaps Pellegrini's biggest challenge during the Summer is to try to get his side to be more consistent - something that has eluded West ham throughout our history!

Jack Wilshere is on the bench after a 4 month absence while Arthur Masuaku retains his place - two players hoping to impress as Pelle inevitably looks towards next season. 
Starting line ups:

West Ham United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice, Noble, Antonio, Snodgrass, Anderson, Arnautovic.



 Subs: Adrian, Fredericks, Diop, Obiang, Wilshere, Diangana, Perez.


Leicester City: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans, Ndidi, Gray, Maddison, Albrighton, Vardy.

 Subs: Ward, Soyuncu, Iheanacho, Barnes, Okazaki, Mendy, Fuchs

Time for Arnie to ACTUALLY come back!!!

After all the injustice of last weekend's defeat at Old Trafford, West Ham will look to get back on the horse today as Brendan Rodgers' Foxes arrive looking to recover their momentum as they chase seventh place. A win today for West Ham would pull them back to 2 points from Leicester in that battle.


The corresponding clash in October was overshadowed by the tragic deaths of Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha along with four others in the horrific helicopter crash straight after the game. The game itself was another one where Hammers can feel hard done by as Leicester grabbed a late equaliser after a gallant 10-man West Ham had held the lead for 50 minutes.

As we await the team announcements, Marko Arnautovic looks set to return after illness while Manny Lanzini is out after limping off last week. Arnie has managed an incredible turn around in popularity from being West Ham's go-to man to a forlorn figure of contempt. However, while fans may still feel aggrieved about events in January, the ultimate outcome of those 'negotiations' was that he has a 4 year contract at the club. Right now he makes for a remarkably unattractive signing in terms of his perceived value, existing salary, playing form and attitudinal desirability! In short, he is unlikely to be the subject of much transfer interest in the Summer. It's surely time to heal and move on - a goal or two today (or even a decent performance!) would perhaps start that process!

Elsewhere, Snoddy has yet to serve his one match suspension for giving guff to drug testing officials while Samir Nasri remains a doubt. At the back there will be interest in whether Arthur Masuaku has earned a starting spot as Aaron Cresswell returns. Pelle's decision will say a lot about his views on Masuaku remaining when Summer comes. Felipe Anderson will presumably continue where he left off against Man Utd - the rotation between right and left wing was a big success and may well be used again today.

Noble and Rice look set to man midfield with Rice looking to boost his ratings for PFA young player of the year as he is in the final six candidates. Raheem Sterling is probably most people's favourite and has 17 goals this season. It's sometimes hard to remember that the Man City star is still only 24. Marcus Rashford will also fancy his chances. Rice is the best betting odds at 20-1 with Rashford 10-1 and Sterling 1/5 on.

As for Today - West Ham are underdogs at 9/4 with Leicester 5/4 and the draw 5/2. Given the Hammers unpredictability you'd have to feel that 9/4 represents very good odds and worth a tenner!

Rory Nostradamus says it'll be 2-1 to the Hammers.

COYI!!! 





 

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Hammers Heading To Wembley!

Yowzah!!! Its Wembley on May 4th for West Ham as the ladies team brushed aside Reading today after a tense penalty shoot where they came out on top 4-3 after drawing 1-1 in the 90 + 30 minutes ET. 


Rachel Furness' powerful header gave Reading a deserved lead just after half time but Hammers Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann pulled them level just before the hour. The game then remained locked at 1-1 as Reading missed a penalty and there were no goals through 30 minutes of extra time. 
 
then came the sudden death penalty shoot out in which Cho So-hyun netted the winning spot-kick to send West Ham to Wembley. They will face Manchester City who overcame Chelsea in the other semi final.
 
The Hammers will have their work cut out against City who are second in the league and have beaten West Ham 7-1 and 3-1 in their two meetings this season.
 
With Southampton due at the London Stadium at 3pm and the Wembley kick off scheduled for 5.30, it'll be interesting to see if the Premiership game gets shifted or will fans have to make a quick dash across London to catch the ladies in action?
 
COYI!!!