First off, I know its been a while. Work and other things have been taking up most of my time and I just haven’t had the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard. Even my twitter posting is down 61% for April (@mrben09) .
Anyway yesterday was a beautiful day, and we welcomed Swansea to Corp HQ. The Swans are usually 3 points for us, but currently we are slipping down the table like a drunk octopus and although Swansea let go a winning position late on Wednesday night, generally Paul Clement seems to have turned the corner for them.
Another day, another hiding. This week we have lost 4-1 to Man U away and now 5-1 at home to Arsenal. Things are not good, and only the fact that 3 teams appear to be worse than us is keeping us from dropping into the relegation zone. And having watched these games, I’m struggling to believe they are actually “worse” than us.
Slaven has an issue, the board have an issue and we as fans have an issue.
Slaven needs to raise the team back to last seasons levels. This is becoming difficult if what he said in the post match interview is anything to go by. He is aware the players aren’t putting a shift in and basically stated they are the same in training. Now I’m not close enough to say whether he has lost the dressing room, but things don’t look good. Even Mark Noble looks resigned. Continue reading “WHUFC vs Arsenal 03/12/2016 EPL 2016-2017”→
Really, really not a lot to say here that wasn’t summed up by Slaven, who stole my thunder with his “A draw was fair, as neither team deserved it”. Spot on big fella.
So let’s have a look why.
It’s often said in Boxing that styles make matches, and i think it’s fair to say that this was part of the issue yesterday. West Ham set themselves up in their new look 3-3-3-1. Stoke set up in a traditional 5-3-1. What this meant was as West Ham attacked they were swallowed up by the Stoke back 5, and Stoke’s natural defensive play with the ball was negated in the packed midfield. Continue reading “WHUFC vs Stoke City 05/11/2016 EPL 2016-2017”→
I didn’t blog after our killer win against the might of Accrington Stanley (exactly !) on Wednesday because basically it was shit. But Slaven did put out all the new boys, and I thought had worked out that Antonio goes back on the right, Tore goes home and Zaza needs to knuckle down.
So we start today with no Tore or Feghouli, Antonio on the right, and Zaza up top with Payet and Lanzini for company. So far so good. But Arbeloa starts on the left and Nordveit on the right. Excuse me ? Arbeloa has won world cups playing right back, sure if we are going to play a midfielder as a full back, lets make sure the real right back is on the right side.
Anyway, Southampton played everything down their left to get inside of Nordveit, but we seemed to be weathering the attacks and were actually playing well, from a defending standpoint. Attacking was different though, Lanzini was shocking and both Payet and Kouyate looked like they had never met anyone on the team before.
Southampton kept plowing a furrow down their left and got their rewards when Austin broke the deadlock , just before half time.
Slaven tried to ring the changes at half time, swapping Lanzini for Feghouli, but it didn’t work, and in what is now becoming a rather worrying trait we shipped a further 2 goals in the second half to cement our position in the bottom 3.
Now, I’m not pushing the relegation button just yet, but we cannot ship 16 goals in 6 games (more than anyone else) and not be concerned. Reid, believe it or not played well. Slaven has to pick his best back four and get it done. For me, its Reid, Ogbonna, Arbeloa (RB) and for now with Masuaku injured, why not Sam Westley? He’s a defender, plays either side and has a squad number. He’s 22. If he is not good enough bin him.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and I hope the board stick with Slaven, but we don’t have many more games to lose before we lose touch with the rest of the league.
The one thing no one wants to talk about is Mark Noble. He has gone over one summer from someone who should be in the England squad no question, to someone who’s looking lost on the pitch. This needs sorting quickly, either drop him out, or let him play his game further up the pitch, because he slows our game down so much currently, the defending team get to reshape.
After our small adventure in Europe and our last minute loss to Chelsea we start our home campaign in the new shed against Bournemouth hoping for no repeat of last season.
Last season saw us lose 4-3 in an end to end game (see here WHUFC vs AFC Bournemouth EPL 22/08/2015). Our team was missing Andy Carroll that time and it turns out he was absent again today, making it 3 for 3 for the Geordie with respect to injuries and first league home games ! As well as AC, we were also missing Ayew, which gave Valencia another chance to redeem himself as our main attacker. Slaven has obviously been listening to the critics and took Antonio out of the right back slot only to put him into left midfield. So we have to assume he fancies both Feghouli and Gore in front of the best attacking right winger we have had since Kevin Keen. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And Payet was missing. This made me think that maybe 0-0 wouldn’t be too bad.
It appeared that everyone else had the same thoughts as the game itself was dull as hell. Nobody really took it by the scruff of the neck. The first half flashed by in a series of mediocre football, only livened up by the standing West Ham fans bickering with the Stewards. How anyone thinks that 5 teenagers will make 200 fans sit down is beyond me, and so they just kept going backwards and forwards almost pleading to no avail.
As we all got an email regarding this last week, means something will happen and there will be a few empty seats for the next game I imagine.
I got to meet my new seat mate, and I think although nice enough there will be some interesting conversations as the season goes on. Hi Steve if you are reading this..
The goal came late on when Antonio was allowed to play on the right and made the run and got the cross in. Gore picked it up at the far post, put it back in and Antonio nods it in to keep our competitive 100% record at the OS. Food for thought Slaven.
Bournemouth looked a shadow of last season, although Ibe looked useful when he moved into the middle.
Key takeaway from today was that we need Lanzini and Payet back as soon as possible, and Calleri needs to start. He got a chance late on when Noble put him through , that I think will be bread and butter later on if he gets the game time
MOTM Antonio. And a big shout out to debutant Arthur Masuaku, who looks very comfortable at left back.
Big Sam returned yesterday and didn’t it show, with one of the worst games I’ve seen this season. The only plus point was we won by scoring the only goal of the game but I don’t think anyone left there thinking they had had a good time, home or away fans.
Having already beaten Man City on the road, this game should have been a stroll in the park for the Hammers.
Back in the real world, we needed to be at our best to get anything from this game, and Slaven realized this by trusting his experienced players and putting people in the right holes. Song came in for Obiang, and Jenkinson at right back for the injured Tomkins. Reid made up the back 4 in favor of Ogbonna.
He left Valencia up top, and also left in Antonio on the right, in lieu of the just back from injury Moses.
This worked well, as Valencia carried on his recent scoring run, by netting after 1 minute from a deflected Kouyate cross. Happy days. Obviously the crowd was going crazy, but we all know the next 10 minutes are the most important. Just on the cusp of this window, Aguero burst through and only needed the slightest touch from Jenkinson to go down, and the penalty was given. I’ve seen them given and not, but the way the ref was looking after the “bigger” team, it was no surprise. So 1-1 after 10 minutes, game on.
The ref carried on making decisions in the opponents favor, including when Kouyate was scythed down by Toure when he was clear and the ref didn’t even give a free kick. Obviously any West Ham challenge was met with a free kick and a yellow for Noble.
Jenks went off with a knock post the penalty (now confirmed as ligament damage, ouch), and on came Byram for his debut, after signing from Leeds in the week. His first job was to mark Aguero at a corner. Welcome to the Premier League son !
However WHU kept on plugging away and although City had most of the possession, we had our chances. Payet was sublime but Joe Hart was a match for him, with a fantastic save from a free kick into the top corner.
Overall , we went into the break, tails up, but looking tired.
Second half we came out a little brighter, and kept up the attacks. Antonio spotted a quick throw to an aware Valencia, who managed to drop a shinned shot into Joe Hart’s bottom right corner and we go 2-1 up. Roof comes of stadium and then reality sets in. Same as last year, we take a one goal lead of City and hope to hold on. We did well, with Ginge repelling all boarders, but you could see the back four melting with fatigue. Alex Song started to drop in and was winning great tackles all over the place, and Noble became part of the back 6. Young Sam was shot, so Payet was covering back as well. This resolution lasted until the 81st minute when that man Aguero popped up again for his second to level. Some people are suggesting the swap out of Antonio for Moses changed the game somewhat, but Slaven needed fresh legs out there.
The last kick of the game, was actually a header, which Kouyate put onto the City crossbar after a nice cross from Noble following a fantastic round the corner from Payet.
So we stay in 6th, but have taken 4 points from the team who in most peoples minds, will win the league. This is progression, make no mistake. If we can put Liverpool out of the cup this weekend, then why not dare to dream. Even Joe Hart stated it would of been unfair for City to win, but not unfair for the Hammers.
Payet was magnificent again, the big question is will we hold onto him in the summer. In fact everyone played well, but my MOTM goes to Alex Song, who actually looked like he did at the start of last season. Also big shout out to Byram, who looks like he will be getting a run in the team now, with Jenks out for quite a while.
The first Saturday of the year was a little busy as I had just flown in from Vegas / via Dallas. BA had lost a bag and I needed to get to the early kick off between the Hammers and Liverpool.
I took my seat just after Liverpool had gone close with a cross goal shot, and seemed to have come out of the gate pretty quickly. WHU, however seems to be shutting them down quickly and efficiently. About 30 seconds later Enner Valencia popped in a cross which was met by Michail Antonio to take lead for West Ham. Nice work Sir. The lad who couldn’t get in the team now has 2 in 2.
Liverpool as you would expect had the lions share of the possession, but no end product. Benteke had a one on one after Collins had misread a ball, but Tomkins came across from his right back birth to shepherd the ball out of danger. As mentioned earlier, WHU were harrying and closing down in numbers , so threats were kept to a minimum . Emre Can hit the bar just before half time, but apart from that , WHU were good for the half time lead.
In the second half West Ham played more forward, with Kouyate winning a lot of ball and bring it forward and the midfield were more fluid and interchangeable. In fact , it Was Mark Noble who popped up on the right flank to cross the ball which was met by Andy Carroll to double the lead, and promote some rather enthusiastic celebrations from the number 9, who was let go by Liverpool having been (and still is) their record signing. Liverpool were left to stream forward looking for something, and Klopp didn’t shirk by replacing defenders with midfielders, probably noting that even though we were 2 up, some lucky deflections and defending was contributing to the score. Not to mention the woeful shooting by Liverpool. I cannot remember the last time a team shot so many balls over the bar.
WHU managed to close out the game to win the first game in 2016 with the same scorers as the last game of 2015, and jumped to 5th being the early game.
Once again WHU win a game which will be reported as poor play by the opposition.
However, WHU played well and were all over the pitch. I think Slaven has realised that letting the opposition have the ball all day is not profitable and quicker teams (such as Liverpool) will cut through us (like Leicester did).
The reintroduction of Payet, was very much welcomed by the home faithful, and I get the feeling he only came on after we were 2 nil up, and his name started to ring around the ground. He played a bit of a cameo, but still managed to set up Carroll, and turn Lucas inside out. Hopefully we hold onto him throughout the transfer window. Other players who deserve a mention are James’ Collins and Tomkins. Both were strong in the tackle, and Tomkins seems to be relishing his right back spot (although some of his bombing down the wing needs some finesse !) . One player who really needs to be looked at and I have mentioned it before is Enner Valencia. We paid over 13m for this guy and he is knocked off the ball at the drop of a hat. Personally I don’t think he is EPL standard and would happily bin him this window.
MOTM today was the much maligned Andy Carroll, who battered Liverpool’s defence today, never gave up and got his desserts with a great goal to seal the game.