Sunday 21 March 2021

Moyes on the offensive as Hammers look to bounce back

David Moyes was quite bullish in the build up to todays crucial clash with Arsenal, stating that he believes West ham have the better side - a position justified by the teams league positions but not by the history of the tie where the Hammers have a truly abysmal record.

That said, this is not a strong Gooners side and anything less than a win will be deemed a disappointmeng by the Hammers faithful as they chase their dream of Champions league action next season. 

Fans will be relieved that Moyes sees West ham as the favourites as he has tended to be uber cautious against so-called top six sides, prompting accusations that West ham have shown too much respect for the likes of Liverpool and Man Utd and have consequently underperformed against their fellow Euro challengers.

However, the team news from the London stadium is positive as Moyes has started with an attacking side with Jesse Lingard and Said Benrahma coming into the side for Noble and Johnson. 

The Hammers will look to their dominant midfield pairing to keep the Gooners on the back foot and hope that Coufal can keep Augbameyang quiet. Mystic Mark Lawrenson predicts a draw. We are looking for a 2-1 win with Benrahma finally opening his account.


West Ham starting XI: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice (c), Lingard, Bowen, Benrahma, Antonio.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Moyes Comes Unstuck as Cautious Hammers Underwhelm

Bobby Bubbles Ponders Our Performance

There can be no doubt that West ham have developed increasingly lofty ambitions over the course of the season and are now seriously contemplating European football. However, during an underwhelming showing last night ex-Liverpool star Jim Beglin nailed it when he commented that it would be a big step up to Champions league standard.

And so it was as the Hammers dug deep hoping for a counterpunch that never came and then Man Utds 65% possession delivered a messy own goal, but in truth four of the five best chances of the game fell to the Red Devils and the Hammers simply didn't deserve even a point.

Lukasz Fabianski (9): Absolutely top class - kept us in the game with a series of fabulous saves.

Vladimir Coufal (8): Solid performance without as much of his usual attacking bluster.

Craig Dawson (7) - Played well and scored another winning goal! Sadly it was an OG on this occasion. Didn't let it phsse him. Had probably our best chance from a header but alas mistimed.

Issa Diop (8) - Solid again. Occasionally gets caught out but that's because he is willing to push out and play the ball. He really has a bright future ahead but needs to improve his concentration.

Aaron Cresswell (7.5) - Kept quiet offensively but did pretty well in a back three without anything spectacular. Probably edged out by Shaw in the battle of the LBs!

Ben Johnson (6) Looked tense in possession and a bit out of his depth at times. Still has much to learn but these games will stand him in good stead for the future.

Declan Rice (8) Solid but asked to sit so deep in a frustrating performance where we really shoukd have gone toe to toe like true Champions League contenders should. He will undoubtedly be disappointed by our lack of ambition on the night.

Tomas Soucek (8) A big presence but unable to make the impact he so often does going forward because we didn't get forward enough.

Jarrod Bowen (8) Looked our liveliest attacker and didn't lose possession as much as he sometimes can. Might have topped off a decent performance with a goal but lost focus at the key moment.

Mark Noble (6) Off the pace and had limited impact in a rare start. Brilliant servant but in all honesty he is well into the Autumn of his career now. Hopefully will stay on as a coach and ? Future manager.

Michail Antonio (7) Not much to write home about. Huffed and puffed but needs better service and more support. Was a frustrated and mostly lone figure up front.


Manny Lanzini (7) Still a quality player and certainly offered more than Noble when he came on but it didn't click for him.

Said Benrahma (8) Really tried hard to create a chance for an equaliser and was our best player during his time on the pitch. Should he play a role further forward alongside Antonio - that would be much closer to his freescoring role at Brentford. Really needs a goal to open the floodgates.

Sunday 14 March 2021

Moyes Springs Surprises against Weakened Man Utd

David Moyes has fielded a pretty unusual starting XI for tonites crunch clash with Man Utd. With no Lingard available and Fornals out with injury, in comes Captain Claret Mark Noble with Ben Johnson providing cover for the full backs. It's possible that Moyes might play 5 at the back with Johnson at left back but we shall see.

Man Utd have reduced options with no Martial, Pogba or Cavani. 

West Ham XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Johnson, Noble, Rice, Soucek, Bowen; Antonio.

Miserable Hammers Get it all Wrong

As West ham continue to push for a Champions League qualification spot all sorts of explanations are being cobbled together as to how the unfancied and unhappy club could have transformed into serious top level contenders.

While the arrival of a series of brilliant signings in Soucek, Coufal, Dawson, Bowen and Benrahma has certainly been a key factor, others have suggested that the absence of fans has actually helped David Moyes men!

While there has undoubtedly been significant tension between the owners and fans for a number of seasons, it has to be recognised that when Messers Sullivan and Gold took over the club it was in financial freefall, relegated and with a fractured squad. 

Wind forward to the present and West ham are financially secure, flying high towards European footy and with a happy and talented squad. Add to that the best value season tickets in the league and you might expect fans to be overflowing with love towards the club and its management.

A fans poll just before the season began illustrates a remarkable lack of optimism amongst the Hammers faithful with less than 10% feeling positive about the season ahead - more than 4 times lower than the next most negative fans of West Brom!

Its true that the poll was taken just as Grady Diangana left but in retrospect the fee was almost enough to cover the cost of Coufal and Soucek, while Diangana has contributed very little to a poor season for the Baggies.

All of which raises the question of whether Hammers fans are a bit prone to seeing the glass half empty and maybe that impacts upon players performances? Many fans would counter that the owners have been poor at communicating with fans and have reneged on key promises.

Either way, It's a real pity that fans cannot get to attend in person while the team enjoys such success.


Computer Says No!

As West Ham head to Old Trafford for a crunch tie against fellow top four hopefuls Man Utd Sky Sports have produced a table predicting the final positions in what is turning out to be a fascinating battle for Champions League action next year.

However, Hammers fans will be disappointed to learn that the computers reckons that they will be edged out into fifth, with Man Utd, Leicester and Chelsea grabbing 2nd to 4th spots.

The table is based upon a complicated algorithm that analyses points per game and remaining fixtures. However, as we all know the lottery of injuries and key refereeing decisions are just as important and will surely impact upon final standings. 

The Hammers currently look ok in terms of player fitness but with a thin squad it would only take an injury to any of Rice, Soucek or Antonio and the wheels could come off as they lack cover in central midfield and foolishly failed to bring in a replacement for Seb Haller in January- a decision that could ultimately be the crucial difference between making the top four or not.

However, the Hammers recent form gives rise for optimism as wins against Spurs and Leeds with a very creditable performance away to Man City highlight that they won't be easily deterred. Today's game, along with the six-pointers against Arsenal, Leicester and Everton will be key, while Moyes men need to be ruthless in their final run in against Brighton, West Brom and Southampton.

The bookies are in agreement with Sky's computer with top four odds of 1/9 for Man Utd, 2/7 for Chelsea and 8/13 for Leicester. The Hammers are a decent bet at 11/4! Spurs are also 11/4 but are 3 points behind the Hammers, with Harry Kane's fitness an ongoing concern and also a tough run in. Liverpool are 7/2 but need to get into gear quickly as they are 5 points behind West ham and have played a game more. The additional burden of their current Champions League campaign may prove too much for Klopps injury ravaged side. Everton are 7/1 but have a very tough run in and will need to get good results against Spurs, Arsenal and Villa and will almost certainly need to beat the Hammers when they travel to London in early May. Villa have gone off the boil since losing Grealish and ate probably too far behind with a tough run in.

All in all its going to be a thrilling run in and if Moyes men can maintain their form and avoid injuries then they will be in there at the death. 


Hammers Head to Old Trafford Seeking Justice

Spot the ball!

It has been a crazy season that has plenty left to give as the Hammers face the first of a series of 'six-pointers' today. Usually at this time of year that involves scrapes with fellow relegation battlers but this year it's a different story as David Moyes men travel to Ye Olde Trafford seeking precious points towards their top four campaign.

While the media continue with their rather patronising 'overachievers' label, a closer look at the season's stats reveals that West ham have every right to travel to OT with confidence.

Although Man Utd have come out on top in two previous meetings this season, both games have been close affairs that could easily have gone the other way. 

The first game at the London Stadium in December saw the Hammers dominate for two thirds of the game and taking a well deserved 1-0 lead through Tomas Soucek and almost going two up as Pablo Fornals hit the post before a controversial turning point where VAR failed to spot a speculative Man Utd clearance that was well out of play before swirling back on to the playing surface allowing Paul Pogba to score an admittedly sublime goal but one that should not have stood. With that boost, Man Utd pushed on for a more than slightly fortunate 3-1 win that left Hammers fans lamenting being once again the victims of poor offialdom.

The sides went toe to toe at Old Trafford last month in the FA cup where an understrength Hammers without Michail Antonio took it to extra time before losing out to a Scott McTominay goal. In reality, the Hammers could easily have won it as Craig Dawson almost scores with a header in the 91st minute and McTominay's goal resulted from a breakaway after a rare Declan Rice mistake when if he hadn't been dispossessed the Hammers had carved open the Red Devils down the right. Games are often decided by fine margins and Man Utd have had more than their fair share of luck in the two previous fixtures this season.

The Hammers can also feel aggrieved that the FA cup game also saw our top centre back sidelined after picking up a nasty ankle injury as Mr Charisma Anthony Martial followed through needlessly on Angelo Ogbonna, again unpunished by the referee.

On to today, the Hammers come in as underdogs but if the December game had gone the other way these sides would be level on points. Moreover, although Man Utd can point to their better goal difference as evidence of being the better performing side, in reality this is primarily accounted for by their farcical 9-0 victory over ten man Southamptom. That aside, these teams are evenly matched over the season.

Bearing that in mind, as well as the fact that Man Utd's record has been better away from Old Trafford this year, the bettings odds for the game are more than a little tempting as West ham are 18/5 against while Solksjaer's men are evens for the win.

The game could again swing on close calls. West ham will fancy their chances from set pieces, as they lead the Premiership in this regard with a whopping 14 goals. Undoubtedly Harry Maguire is a presence at corners but interestingly the Devils have only 6 goals from set pieces. David Moyes will be hoping that the game is not decided by Man Utd adding to their remarkable 8 penalties awarded so far this season. All eyes will thus be on the match referee is Mancunian Chris Kavanagh.


Monday 8 March 2021

Fab news for Hammers: starting XI vs Leeds

Its a good start to the evening as news has arrived that Fabianski is fit to start! Moyes has an attacking starting XI with Benrahma also on from the kick off and let's home he can open his account as the Hammers seek to progress their quest for a top 4 place. 

West Ham United: Fabianski, Coufal, Diop, Dawson, Cresswell, Rice (c), Soucek, Benrahma, Lingard, Fornals, Antonio

Subs: Martin (GK), Trott (GK), Johnson, Balbuena, Noble, Lanzini, Odubeko