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?


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

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


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.


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!!!



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.


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.



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?

Bobby Bubbles Player Ratings as Hammers Robbed at Old Trafford

A penalty brace from the endlessly likeable Paul Pogba was enough to claim the victory for a disappointing Manchester United side at Ye Olde Trafford yesterday evening. Nevertheless  there were many positives  for the Hammers  as  they  came within a whisker  of  completing  a rare  double  over the Red Devils.

Here are Bobby Bubbles' ratings:

Pellegrini: It takes balls to go to Old Trafford and stand toe to toe with the home side but that is the Pellegrini way and the travelling West Ham faithful were given plenty to appreciate. The Hammers dominated for much of the game and can feel justifiably aggrieved at coming up short in terms of points gained. Once again, Pellegrini demonstrated his belief in rotating the squad bringing in Zabaleta, Masuaku and Snodgrass. Apart from the overall performance, there were also excellent showings from Fabian Balbuena and a return to best form for Felipe Anderson. However, on the downside Manuel Lanzini hobbled off and looks set for a further period on the sideline. Pellegrini deserves particular credit for the second half showing where, despite a number of referee howlers in the first half, West Ham remained unperturbed sustaining what was an impressive performance  9/10.

Fabianski:  calm and assured as always. You really thought he might save the second penalty but unfortunately Pogba served up an unsaveable strike! 8/10

Zabaleta: excellent performance before running out of puff. You have to wonder if he would have done better against Martial for the second penalty. Still has plenty to offer despite the ageing legs. 7/10.

Ogbonna: never look troubled despite Manchester United playing a relatively attacking formation. Issa Diop has a real battle on his hands to regain a starting place. 7/10.

Balbuena:  it's great to have him back  and he again  showed great composure  and  was not really  under pressure in any way. Good distribution coming out of defence. 8/10

Masuaku: one of his better games where there were no defensive errors. Maybe he still has something to offer next season? 7/10.

Rice: The best midfielder on the park throughout and greatly overshadowed Pogba who had very little influence apart from the two penalties. 8/10.

Noble: Captain Claret loves getting stuck into Man United and looked to be thoroughly enjoying proceedings yesterday. Still has plenty to offer. 7.5/10.

Lanzini:  Starting to look more like his old self but still a little off the pace. Excellent assist for Anderson's goal and also had a decent shout for penalty when he was held back in the box. Let's hope his injury is nothing serious as he needs game time to get back to his best 7/10.

Anderson: Possibly our best player against Chelsea and again yesterday was our man of the match as he tormented Manchester United again and again. The switch to the right wing was an interesting experiment which worked well and increases our attacking options. Denied a perfectly legitimate goal in the first half before scoring what could easily have been a match winner in the second. 9/10.

Chicharito: We've said this before but he really doesn't offer enough to the general play. Limited contribution before being substituted. 5/10.

Snodgrass: will be furious about the first-half penalty which was  extremely soft  and it's debatable whether he actually made any contact with Juan Mata. However, he didn't allow this to discourage him and  delivered a series of excellent  corners throughout. 7/10.

Antonio: Tremendous stuff had a few barnstorming runs at the Utd defwnce, cracked one against the bar and was denied by a super De Gea save after a good header. Deserved more. 8/10.
Diangana: No major impact 5/10.
Fredericks: Oops. Clumsy challenge on Martial gave away the game.  3/10.

The West Ham Way Part 6: Refereeing Nonsense Denies West Ham at Old Trafford

Quoted at 7/1 against for a win before the match, Manuel Pellegrini's troops were clearly offended by the bookies lack of faith and reacted with an excellent performance. However, how many times have we said this, "but for some poor refereeing....deblah blah" and that was once again the story of the day as Man United were gifted the win by match referee Graham Scott who made a series of bad calls in the Mancs favour.

First up, Felipe Anderson scored  a perfectly legal goal but sadly referee Graham Scott and his henchmen failed to notice that Defender Diogo Dalot was playing the Brazilian on side.

Next up, Scott awarded Manchester United a penalty for an innocuous challenge by Robert Snodgrass on the easily toppled Juan Mata. Grrr.

Half time 1-0 to the wrong side.

However, the Hammers spirits were not dampened and they emerged for the second half full of determination and levelled the scores within 4 minutes of the restart with a delightful Anderson strike.

Thereafter, West Ham dominated proceedings going close on a number of occasions while the home side offered little in attack.

West Ham  could feel unlucky not to have been given a penalty  as Manuel lanzini was held back in the box  but  the matchday officials  were nowhere to be seen when the call was potentially going to go in West Hams favour.

Then, poor Michail Antonio was doubly disappointed as first he rattled the bar and then was foiled by an incredible save by David De Gea as somehow the Spaniard managed to keep out a thumping goalward bound header - pushibg the ball just outside the post.

In reality, at that point West Ham should have been at least a goal to the good and as they pushed forward sensing a victory, were caught on the break with another close offside call going man united's way as Anthony Martial found himself through on goal and was pulled down by a desperate lunge from Ryan Fredericks resulting in perhaps the only correct call by Mr Scott all day as he awarded a penalty allowing the otherwise anonymous Paul Pogba to score a second from the spot and give Manchester United an unlikely and remarkably fortunate win.

If Scott had got the earlier decisions right then West Ham would almost certainly not have been caught pushing up with just 10 minutes to go.

The normally restrained Pellegrini was visibly annoyed in his post match interview and made it clear that he felt West Ham had been outdone by poor refereeing decisions. In his post match interview, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded that Manchester United had 'got away with it' but countered that these things balance out over the course of a season.

With Spurs on an impressive run of victories and feeling buoyant having just moved into their new stadium, West Ham will be hoping that some of this bad luck is balanced out with good fortune when they visit White Hart Lane in a fortnight's time. Before then, Leicester City visit the London Stadium next weekend as the two sides do battle for the very middle of the middle of the Premiership table!


Saturday 13 April 2019

Hammers Ready to Make the Record Books

After their sproncey second half efforts against Chelski on Monday night,  West Ham visit Ye Olde Trafforde in search of glory today. With our season all but over, Manuel Pellegrini's troops are playing for amusement as much as anything else - not exactly an ideal mindset as we prepare to face a Man United side who are desperate for points as they chase a Champions League spot. In addition, there 's the small matter of facing Romelu 'i score at will against West Ham' Lukaku, a challenge that the impressive Balbuena will surely relish.

The game represents an important juncture in Ole Gunnar Solsjaer's managerial career. After an impressive start, since being made permanent he has reverted to the forlorn form of his Cardiff era and is currently on a 4 losses in 5 games run that should the Hammers spring a surprise today will be Man Utd's worst ever top flight run. Even worse, they are at the Nou Camp next week!

After the season's high point 3-1 thrashing at the London Stadium back in October, Manuel Pellegrini's troops will hope to do the double over the Red Devils - last achieved in the 2006-7 'Great Escape'season of madness!

The bookies fancy a home win at 5/2 on, with the away win at 7/1 and a draw at 4/1. 

As we prepare for this evening's clash we ask ' what would be the best team of players who have played for both clubs....the so-called ‘West Man United XI’?

At Man United he failed to inspire confidence - epitomised by ‘the goal that never was’. Joined West Ham in 2005 after falling out over a lack of first team opportunities. Had a good initial season but sustained a back injury in Jan 2006 and slipped into a variety of difficulties that ultimately earned him a place in the ‘Troubled Bubbles XI’!  Currently with Irish League outfit Linfield. Verdict 4/10

Hammers debut at the tender age of 17, Rio soon forced his way into the regular first team squad where he continued to impress until Leeds paid a record 18 million for him in November 2000. Quickly moved to Man United where he has been a fantastic servant for a decade and was key to the many successes of the past decade.Verdict 9/10.

8 appearances for Man United where he was never really given a chance. A bargain signing for 500K for West ham that led to a five year career and over 100 appearances . Versatile defender who had his finest hour when scoring twice in a 4-0 victory over Man United in 2010. Ran out of road as the Hammers regrouped after relegation and moved to Birmingham City. Verdict: 6/10

Top man. Signed from Cork Athletic in 1952. Noel enjoyed a fruitful 8 years at West Ham with 250 appearances. Captained the Hammers to promotion back to the top flight for the first time in almost 30 years in 1958 . Sold to man Utd for almost 30K in 1960 where he captained a cup winning side and was part of two league winning teams. Verdict 8/10.

Hmmm. One that got away having impressed at youth level but nicked by Man United. He might have fared so much better had he stuck with the Hammers and gotten a better shot at first team football. Many observers would say that he has never lived up to his potential. Verdict 4/10.

Industrious and gamey, the 'Guvnor'  was never found wanting in the Hammers shirt after replacing Billy Bonds in 1987. He didn’t handle his Hammers departure very well being photographed in a Man United shirt well before the deal was confirmed. Probably did not deserve the  criticisms thrown his way by Fergie and after 6 years and over 200 appearances Verdict: 8/10.

Another one thrown in as a teenager at 17 into the Hammers first team. Skilful but perhaps a little ‘ghosty’ at times. Happy to do the unglamorous work and stayed loyal after relegation in 2003 before losing patience and moving to Spurs for 3.5 Million and then Man United where he was a solid performer for ten seasons. Verdict 9/10.

Trouble with a capital T during his time at Man United, Fergie tired of his disciplinary problems and Big Sam obliged for a mere 650K. Initially 'Raveldo' looked like an astute piece of business but  disciplinary and personal issues re-emerged and after 18 games for the Hammers he was moved on. Verdict 3/10.

Arrived at Man United late in his career but proved another astute Fergie signing and achieved legendary status in stoppage time of the 1999 Champions League final. Came to the Hammers not far  short of pension age but still had plenty to offer by virtue of his excellent footballing brain. Returned as forwards coach to great effect in the 2014-5 season. Verdict 9/10. 

Played in a different era when United were not quite the same powerhouse they are now but picked up a cup winners medal, scoring in the 1977 final against lovely Liverpool. 
Moved to the Hammers in 1979 after a nasty knee injury but still managed to play a major part in the 1980 Cup final victory over Arsenal, teeing up Trevor Brooking’s ‘stunning’ header! Verdict 8/10.

Arrived at the Boleyn in a bizarre deal in 2006. Bemused Hammers faithful endured two-thirds of a season of Carlos trying to inspire a lacklustre side and then it all clicked into gear for the final 10 games where he couldn’t stop scoring, including a final day win at Old Trafford to keep the Hammers up! The Apache had some classy moments in the United shirt but got sidetracked by his own ego needs. Ultimately moving to City was the final straw.Verdict 9/10.

Friday 12 April 2019

Yet More Hammers Heartbreak Ahead for Spurs

On the day that Spurs revealed that their top man Harry Kane will be out for the rest of the season,  fans were reminded of a similar disappointment for the Spuds as ex-Hammer Yossi Benayoun announced his formal retirement from football at age 38.

The 'Diamond' arrived to the Premiership from Racing Santander in 2005 to join the Alain de Pardeux 'revolution' at Upton Park. He went on to play for 72 games in the following two seasons before moving to Anfield. A creative midfield force who liked to hang off the striker, Benayoun delivered 8 goals over the two seasons, appearing in the 3-3 FA cup final of 2006. His final game was the Old Trafford 'Great Escape' of 2007.

However, it was the final game of 2006 that will be best remembered by West Ham fans as he scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over biggest neighbours that prevented Spurs from making a much-coveted 4th place and denied them a Champion's League spot. With Arsenal and Man United breathing down Tottenham's necks for that 4th place spot this year, what are the chances that with Kane out of the picture that West Ham will repeat the 'favour' when they visit the new White Hart Lane in a fortnight?

With a great footballing mind and considerable leadership qualities having been National team captain for Israel for much of his career, Benayoun will surely have a crack at management?

Either way, we wish him the very best of luck in the years ahead.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

The General Impresses as Hammers Outdone by Hazard: Player Ratings

A brace from the in form Eden Hazard was enough to claim the victory for a Chelsea side who were lively all night - moving the ball quickly and applying plenty of pressure on West Ham whenever they got the ball. The Hammers, meanwhile, looked well organised and could well have snatched a result with a bit of luck (and a decent forward presence!). Here are Bobby Bubbles' ratings:
Pellegrini: This was a much better performance after the horror of the no-show for Everton. We really are still very Jekyll and Hyde as a club but the decent West Ham turned up last night and almost stole a result. As always, Pelle was not shy of shaking it up and bringing back Balbuena was a big success while Ryan Fredericks is growing into a much more confident player. The return of Noble and Anderson were similarly positive but its up front where we are lost and need serious reinforcements in the Summer. Arnie is lost (and overweight!) while Chicharito offers little beyond his poaching and cannot hold the ball up. One small gripe is that with 7th place now beyond our grasp maybe its time to give some youngsters a run - Diangana, Johnson, Coventry and Silva are all knocking on the door and would surely benefit from a run out.  7/10.

Fabianski: Once again put in a top performance and faultless for the two goals. Our best keeper since Phil Parkes!!! 8/10.

Fredericks: Must be disappointed to have played so well against Hazard yet the Belgian bagged a brace! Almost intercepted the first when everybody else failed and the second was on Cresswell's side. His pace is a real asset but could be a bit more productive going forward. 7/10.

Ogbonna: Its gonna be a real battle for those two CB spots as Angelo is determined to hold onto his place and again looked very solid last night without doing anything spectacular (which is what a CB is supposed to!). 7/10.

Balbuena: The General is back! Super performance reminded us why we have been unsteady at the back during his absence. Astute and on the pace despite the lack of recent game time. Our MOTM! 8.5/10.

Cresswell: A hard night's work but he looks close to his best again and clearly enjoys playing with Anderson. Almost stole an equaliser as well by virtue of one of his many decent attacking contributions. 7.5/10.

Rice: We have come to expect Declan to provide the heart of our engine room and he once again delivered. Looked happy to have Noble back alongside in midfield and kept trying to drive us forward in search of a goal. 8/10.

Noble: Good to have him back and as usual he put in a busy performance on a tough night. Long may it continue! 7.5/10.

Lanzini: Still not sure we can afford both Manny and Anderson in midfield as they are quite light on physicality. Starting to look more like his old self but not back to his pre-injury level. 6/10.

Anderson: Always offers the chance of something different. Industrious (many fans underestimate how much defensive effort he puts in) and time and time again his excellent touch provides an out when we need to maintain possession. One shot that didn't quite make the grade but looked sharp all night. 8/10.
Chicharito: His Hammers future is in the balance - last night demonstrated why we need to move on as he really doesn't offer enough to the general play. 5/10.

Arnautovic: Dreadful. He really has lost it (and gained a few pounds!). Time to go for the disloyal one. Hardly put a foot right all night - one mate quipped "is he still training with the team cos it doesn't look like it"!  4/10.


Obiang: No major impact 5/10.
Snodgrass: Huffed and puffed with little result -  a recurring description of his substitute appearances as he is not really a gamechanger. 5/10.