West Ham United 0 Dinamo Zagreb 1 Europa League 2021-2022 09/12/2021


With us through to the last 16 of this tournament already and a mounting injury list it was quite pertinent last night to make sure that we protect the first team squad for our trip to Burnley at the weekend. To that end we had a back four of Longelo, Ashby, Baptiste and Alese. Perkins started up front and the usual European stalwarts of Yarma, Noble, Kral, Areola, etc filled out the team. I was not too happy with both Noble and Kral starting. I understand the need to protect an inexperienced back four, but 2 deep holding midfielders at home seemed a little too negative.

For what ever reason, the away support was somewhat small (about 100 ?) so they looked a little odd in the vast away section.

Wheres Wally ?

They were in good voice, and that only got better when after 3 minutes Zagreb took the league when Orsic fired in a worldie from way out on the left, which left our keeper flat footed.

And literally the game ended there and then. Both teams huffed and puffed without any end product. We were lacking a push forward due to the defensive nature of the midfield. Benrahma came on for the second half and again was unproductive, which is getting a little worrying. Yarmalenko was poor even by his own standards. I was proved correct with the holding midfield experiment. Both Noble and Kral wanted to almost play sweeper, and the gap between front and back was stretched leaving Fornals and Benrahma covering quite large areas.

But all the youngsters, bar one, played well. Alesi and Baptiste looked very comfortable at the back and seemed to be able to deal with the longer balls coming in, and were good passing out. Maybe they could improve on actually bringing the ball out just 10 or so yards before passing, which would help to push the midfield on. Ashby and Longelo looked like modern fullbacks, full of running forward and not scared to take on the opposition. I thought Perkins was pushed off the ball easily, and will need to toughen up. He was partnered was Yarma for most of the second half but still seemed to give the ball up.

So we round off with a group round loss (and half a million worse off) but happy to qualify. Who’s next? Barcelona ? Dortmond ? Rangers ?

MOTM for me was the Zargreb no 7, Ivanusec. Ran the game at both ends from start to finish.

Just before we entered the stadium I thought I lost my keys. This meant I had to go back through security. Due to the cold I actually had a light jacket under a winter coat. Keys were found in the lighter jacket. Good news ! I re-entered the stadium and met back up with Aussie John. Turns out he had been in the club shop while waiting for me to return and in the process , had lost a glove. The irony was not lost on me, and I did have a chuckle. We are at that age. What happened this morning on my way to work ? Left my gloves on the DLR. Irony indeed.

Ronaldo confirmed to not be coming to East London
Must be night time !

West Ham Utd 3 Chelsea 2 EPL 2021-2022 04/12/2021


Nice and bright, but cold

Early kick off on a freezing Saturday morning against the reigning European champions (as they may have mentioned, once or twice, zzzz)

Not a great set up, after our recent run of no wins in 3, but I had a feeling that if we got at them we had a chance.

As most people expected Lanzini came in for Benrahma. We also changed to 3 at the back with Coufal and Johnson as wingbacks, to allow Diop back in to the defence, to partner Zouma and Dawson

Empty Seats for the Champions of Europe

The game itself early doors was what you would expect. Chelsea were on top possession wise, and we defended resolutely and got the odd breakaway. One issue at this point but it persisted throughout was Antonio. Constantly giving the ball away and falling over for no reason. Embarrassing. How about use the skills that got you to where you were , not start relying on faking fouls.

Our visitors took a lead from a corner, makes a difference for someone to get a set piece against us ! 10 minutes later we were gived a lifeline after Bowen was brought down by Mendy running away from the goal with no one else in the box. Cheers. Up steps Lanzini and comfortably puts it away to level up. Just before half time Ziyech send across an amazing cross form the left straight onto Mounts foot, and Deccers best mate gave the visitors the lead going in to half time.

Everyone I spoke to at half time was doom and gloom . Talk of 4 or 5 -1 hidings abounded. I thought it may stay the same as neither team were on fire.

We started better, and Masuaku was on for the injured Johnson, which gave us a bit more balance going forward. Soon enough we got the equalizer from Bowen which went through the keepers legs with a nice well hit curving shot across the goal. Chelsea at this point were full of uncharacteristic mistakes and a bit blunt in attack despite Lukaku coming on at half time. We knew the keeper had a mistake in him so had to keep the pressure on, and we did. Bowen had a couple of other chances as did Benrahma when he replaced Lanzini. And with 3 minutes to go off normal time it was an odd shot / cross / who knows from Masuaku that beat Mendy on the near post to wrap up the points and streams of Chelsea leaving early.

Whats the takeaway ?Great game and we seem to have got over our habit of parking the bus against top 4 teams. We are still in there on merit, and are going into what would be considered easier games against Burnley, Arsenal and Norwich.

Injuries to Johnson, and Zouma could be massive if longer term. That would 4 first team defenders out. Not a good position. We have a dead rubber European game this week against Zargreb and although not very sporting I would play none of the first team at all , and save them all for Burnley.

It was pointed out to me (by the opposition) thatDeclan was quiet. I will say that Chelsea gave him less space than usual so fair play. He still made some key interceptions on the edge of our box and covered some distance. Soucek is more worrying. Another through the motions game. But we have to remember that his 6/10 is the same as others 8/9.

MOTM Bowen all day long. The goal, the effort, the linkup, using the space left to him by the Chelsea’s midfield trying to contain Rice.

FACTS

West Ham 1 Brighton 1 EPL 2021-2022 01/12/2021


Line Up Line Up

A lot can be done in 3.5 minutes. You could drive 5 miles on a motorway. You could eat a Big Mac. You could go from Upton Park to East Ham on the tube. Or you could add another nail in the national game via the use of VAR.

The game probably had the right result and we go on, but this season I thought we had got rid of this drawn out nonsense happening in Stockley Park. Once again a corner comes in and we get it into the net through some bodies. No massive complaints from the opposition. And then it starts. Checking possible foul. To be fair it looked like (from a still) that Dawson had hands on a defender. Welcome to every corner in professional football. So that gets recinded. Then we take a look at a possible offside, another 2 minutes. I’m sorry but this was brought in for clear and obvious errors and here we go again. The picture that was showed doesn’t even have Antonio offside and further reports have said that it’s unclear who it hit last. Absolute joke and the quicker they use this in an efficient manner the better.

Anyway a point is a point. I was not one of booing contingent at the end. Maybe some of our supporters need some history lessons, to paraphrase the oppositions manger after their recent draw against Leeds. We have no right to win every game and to be fair the way we played in the first half would indicate we could lose more than we win if we carry on like this.

Squad depth has played a part here. Out of our back 4, we played 2 out of position. I know Johnson has played on the left a few times , but now he is used to being on the right, he was getting turned regulary which then invites crosses. Zouma, being the better of the two centre halfs, has stepped into Ogbonna’s place but seems to have issues getting it out from defence at his feet, which is a massive part of his game. Hopefully Cress is fit for Saturday, but if not Masuako will have to start in left midfield to assist young Ben, as he did when he came on last night. Also Dawson has to go in favour of Diop. Although still lopsided we could have some pace to get us out of issues.

The game itself was pretty poor, similar in some ways to Wolves, where we were the better team without punishing the opposition. Antonio still looks tired, and despite his goal (from a corner ) Soucek was just tidy without any explosivity. The second half livened up somewhat, but we couldn’t put away our chances. And what a goal from Maupay for their equalizer.

Benhrama started again after being poor for a couple of games and carriedon in that vain for the first 20 minutes. Consistently giving the ball away, poor passing and zero decision making. He was replaced by Lanzini with 15 to go. Manuel harried, tackled ran past people, and generally upped out game. Surely he starts against Chelsea ?

Interesting to see what happens to Brighton afterwards as lobbing flares near a pitch cost us a one match attendance ban.

Blue Wednesday

And it was cold. MOTM I’ll give to Maupay for the goal. Out takeaways are we need ot be more at it from the get go. Like we were against Liverpool . Chelsea up next and the crowd will demand a performance. Question is can the team deliver.

One to keep an eye on is the standing up situation. Where we sit the lower tier is just in front and if they stand it is difficult to watch the game. However they only stand when we are attacking and the guys in the back row have no option but to stand as there are 50 rows in front of them on their feet. However the loud bickering started yesterday, and I imagine will continue into the future. Sly digs and offhand statements never work out well so i’ll just be an interested observer in this debate.

WHUFC 0 vs Manchester City 0 (5-3 pens). League cup 4th round 27/10/2021



What a night, what a night.

The cold realisation after beating Tottenham that a few days later we would be back to face City in the League cup was not the most exciting prospect.

Pre game was fun, meeting up with a friend who has finally got his arse into gear to buy a season ticket. This was someone who I hadn’t seen for nearly 10 years and glad to say he is still in fine fettle.

For those that are interested, more change in the seats behind me for this game. Kids for a quid gave me the opportunity to have a family with 3 under 5’s (not them !) sitting behind me. Believe it or not they were better than the Surrey Train Squad of Genk and Rapid fame.

I fully expected lots of changes on both sides with City having a significant upper hand. No fun in that. And to an extent that’s what I got. Wholesale changes on both sides. Unfortunately, City’s second team had 3 players who played in the Euro 2020 final for England, with 2 more in the bench. We had Noble, Dawson, Lanzini, Yarma, Vlasic and Areola coming in, and Moyes saw sense enough to leave Rice and Antonio completely out of it.. Slight gulf in quality !

And it showed. City’s domination of possession (64% according to the BBC, I thought more) was precise, and smooth. Do they ever miss a pass ? But no cutting edge. Sterling had a couple of runs at Johnson, but was getting no change from a lad really making his way in this squad. I sort of get what people have been saying about City not having a striker now. Without that focal point they are relying on mistakes from the opposition. Not that Areola had nothing to do. Out of the 2 keepers he was easily the busiest, but handled everything with ease, and an agility that maybe has made Fab stand up and raise his game as well. One save from a Stone header would have been talked about for weeks if it was Ederson or Alisson. Keep it up Alphonse, the start is only round the corner.

With the odd bit of counter attack from us, the game followed the same pattern all night. City attack, we get the ball, and provide a poor pass back to them after a small amount of possession. But our defending was resolute. Johnson, as already stated played a blinder again. Dawson and Diop were solid and Cresswell was just Cresswell.

The only player who struggled was Yarmalenko, and I think that may have been due to the quick closedown at high quality from Stones and Ake. Also, he was a bit isolated meaning normally his best available pass was backwards, quite a way backwards. Lanzini was getting bounced about in the middle, but held his own just about.

As the second half went on we saw more of the ball and there were chances for Masuaku (who was good all night, for his first game in a while). Yarma had a clear opportunity taken away after some lovely interchange with Johnson.

We continued to apply pressure, post our subs, as Bowen, Fornals, and Benrahma came on and brought up the effort and creativity levels. Towards the end of the 90 Coufal came on for Lanzini and I assumed this was to take a penalty. And like that penalties were upon us.

Up steps Noble. No problem. Then Foden. Big problem as he lashes it wide. Then we go one for one with Bowen, Dawson and Cresswell getting ours . Our last penalty, and the one to win the match, I assumed would be taken by Coufal. And up steps Benrahma. The same fella who was shocking against Spurs and has shown to be very hot and cold. By this time my nerves are shredding. The stadium is silent. Both teams watch on……..

AND HE SCORES

And that’s that, time to get home. What a night !

What a night again. For the first time since the move, I felt like a fan again if that makes sense. Getting sucked into the drama, revelling in the atmosphere. The sheer joy of that last penalty. Having a sore throat in the morning !

MOTM Areola. Top man all night, made some big saves. Big shout out to Noble, who kept everything tidy, and Johnson, who based on the subs, kept a fit Coufal out of the team. Can he do the same away against Villa this Sunday?

Fireworks are not only for Europe people.

WHUFC 1 Tottenham 0 24/10/2021 EPL 2021-2022


First off , all back to normal on the seating front, with my European neighbours not in attendance (see Genk post) made the day a whole more enjoyable. And its always nice to get one over on the Totts, if nothing else just to chip away at the myth that they are a big club, which they held onto despite not beating us last season, and finishing below us in the league, and being part of the failed breakaway league with some real big clubs.

Continue reading “WHUFC 1 Tottenham 0 24/10/2021 EPL 2021-2022”

WHUFC 3 – KRC Genk 0 Europa League 21/10/2021


Looking after parents during Covid, only 3000 miles a year in the car, kids sleeping in the back, Alton, Farnborough, dad has a steam train. 12 carriage trains into Waterloo, early shifts, no one in the office. 5 a side legend, 6 a side, 8 a side on a 6 a side pitch, over zealous social football games with post game stats. Don’t rate Areola. Choose life.

Continue reading “WHUFC 3 – KRC Genk 0 Europa League 21/10/2021”

WHUFC (2) vs Rapid Vienna (0) 30/09/2021 Europa League


Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that !

European football is upon us for the first time in a few years and not in a qualifier. Last season got us straight into the group stages and tonight we were looking to keep our place at the top of our group, after beating Zagreb on the road 2 weeks ago.

Continue reading “WHUFC (2) vs Rapid Vienna (0) 30/09/2021 Europa League”

WHUFC (1) – Man Utd (2) 19/09/2021. EPL 2021-2022


A damp day in East London

If this was a movie it would be binned at submission for being too far fetched.

We have the return of the once great one to save the day again. We also have hero returning to the site of his recent exploits to see if he can repeat the formula from the dark side. And we have the introduction of a former hero, now into his dotage, to see if he can just one more time recreate the magic that made him famous throughout the land.

Continue reading “WHUFC (1) – Man Utd (2) 19/09/2021. EPL 2021-2022”

WHUFC (2) vs Crystal Palace (2) – EPL 2021-2022 28/08/2021


West Ham have never won their first three games in the Premier League but with 2 down and a 0 point Palace rolling into town, things were looking good for another small piece of history this weekend. Not to mention the chance to remain top of the league through the International break.

Getting into the ground was considerably easier this time around, but getting there 90 minutes before kick off helps !

Continue reading “WHUFC (2) vs Crystal Palace (2) – EPL 2021-2022 28/08/2021”

WHUFC (4)vs Leicester City(1) EPL 23/08/2021


Welcome home. well I don’t know about home but definitely welcome back. 18 odd months since my last attendance at a live football match, Monday evening was a time to see if it was all worth it. It also means these missives should be more regular. Hard to report on something that you watched on the TV.

I’ll be honest, after nearly 35 years of continuous attendance, a season off actually worked well for me, and it was good to do other things at the weekends. Like watch West Ham on the telly !

So last season was beyond all expectation and with little or no change to the team we started this year beating a team that beat us twice last year, and winning away, and winning our first game of the season for a few years.

However, our opponents today had beaten Man City in the FA Cup final, and the Charity Shield and just missed out on top four (as did we, grrrr) . But in our favour was the fact that last time we played them we, destroyed them at their own ground.

Getting in was an absolute shambles, one it appears shared by a few other clubs this season. We have moved to digital tickets. Taking away the accessibility issue of this, that should not be too difficult a transition, with options to print, etc. But also asking people who are not qualified to verify COVID staus was always going to be ridiculous. What if I show them someone else’s status, or show them mine in my digital wallet, but the date validation data has past. Are they really going to spend all that time with each supporter, while queues were getting somewhat silly . I queued nearly 30 minutes to get in. Due to it being the first game, most people were OK with this. I imagine in December with some rain flying about, this will not be sustainable in any way. I understand Spurs have already announced “random” checks to speed this up. Not to mention that this was to “keep us safe”. I can honestly say that since March 2020, that was the tightest crowd of non masked individuals I had spent my time with . Sort of defeats the point.

Also there is a safety issue. The queues were out to the edge of the concourse all round the ground , meaning you had to push through other queues to get to your own. With people waiting up to 40 minutes to get in they were getting concerned about other people pushing in and there we have the issue. Tempers can flare easily in these situations, and I think being the first game, probably kept a lid on this. Once again, a league cup game in late October may have a different outcome.

The game itself was different entirely. We dominated from start to finish, and the score reflected that. Yes they had someone sent off (VAR actually being used properly, eg for catching a clear and obvious refereeing error), but in reality we were by far the better team.

The atmosphere was almost Upton Park ish, but maybe that’s what happens when you haven’t been to a game for 18 months ! Even the stadium announcer got in on the act singing the Antonio song, when he broke Di Canio’s record for most Premier League goals. That said, I would still prefer a real striker, who can complement our fantastic attacking force. One injury blows that all up, and backup is essential.

If we manage to secure a striker, Lingard and Zouma before the 1st Sept, I will be a happy boy, but we know how that goes over here. The board over promise and deliver nothing. We are still crowing about signing Dawson as a new signing, despite him being on loan all last season.

Palace up next and we should remain top of the pile going into the break. No complaints with that.

COYI

MOTM: Fornals. The fella just holds everything together and has been rewarded by getting called up for Spain in the upcoming break. Well played Senor.