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WHUFC vs Arsenal 12/01/2019 EPL 2018-2019

January 14, 2019 Leave a comment

My second visit of 2019 to the London Stadium also brought home the harrowing fact the in the Premier League era, Arsenal have beaten West Ham more than any other club. But the early kick off normally upsets the apple cart (and the Acca punters) and this game did its bit to keep up that tradition.

Rumours abounded around Arnie. He’s going, he’s staying, his brother is a shit stirrer, allsorts. My take is this. If he wishes to leave to play in empty stadiums, in a league that will also most likely mean he loses his international place as well, just for cash, then good luck to him. He earns more than he can spend already.

Also lets be realistic, if someone offered you twice your wages to do the same job somewhere else, you would take it. Maybe not in China, but at least your head will be turned. He left Stoke quick enough, and we are no different, such is the way of the modern footballer. They chop and change all the time. Reece Oxford is our 5th longest serving player currently !

So Arsenal, Wengerless and let off the leash. 22 game unbeaten runs, new broom, and no win in 4 away from home in the PL.

We started with probably with as good as team as we could, but this was no plucky little West Ham. All the big guns were there with the exception of Balbuena. Ogbonna has scared me this season, and early on did nothing to shake that feeling, as Rice had to get him out of a hole a couple of times as Lacazette gave him the run around. However , once the early nerves went, everyone did their job. Antonio was making the runs down the wing we got used to a few years ago. Diop seemed to get his confidence back (it took a few games with Balbuena as well, obviously doesn’t mix well with others!)

Rice and Noble dominated. Rice especially. I’m not the only one saying every game he gets better, but he does ! We have started passing instead of lumping. Nasri I thought was quiet after reading the report of the previous week but he did nothing wrong. Arnie was quiet, and I’m sure I saw Anderson make a tackle !

Just after half time (0-0), we get a bit of a ricochet ball in the box, which Nasri calmly tees up for Rice, and its top corner , one nil. Declan’s first goal for the senior team on his birthday weekend, 2 weeks after getting a new contract. Arnie take note.

After that , we looked assured and controlled the game. Arsenal had some longer range shots and did actually get the ball in the net twice, but with comically offside attempts. And that was that, no panic, no last hurrah from the opposition. A relatively painless win, except for Arnie who left early to be replaced by Carroll. He applauded all round the stadium as he left the field. I have commentated above on my opinion around this, so that’s that, or is it? Would you pay a potentially injured player 200k a week ?

Carroll looked sharper again, and closed down well, as did Snodgrass when introduced. We finally have a proper squad.

Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to the manager, who had kept banging on about installing a big team mentality into the team. But this needs to translate across to the fans as well. We can live in the past glories of being there just about in the league but always having a say in the title with a couple of big scalps a year or we can become the team that plays in front of 60k every week ,with big players, and expectations to match.

Gary Firmager used to say the worst thing to let loose at West Ham is expectation and back then he was right. But we have to accept that the fan base and the club has changed dramatically over the past few years, and we should now demand this level of team from our board.

MOTM Declan Rice. All day long. Happy birthday !

Little bit wobbly.
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WHUFC vs Wolverhampton Wanderers 01/09/2018 EPL 2018-2019

September 2, 2018 Leave a comment

With zero points from 3, we move onto a game which may have been more suited to our league position against a team enjoying their first run in the prem since the 2011-2012. Holding onto their Championship talisman Neves ,they have also signed West Ham target Dendoncker and Adama Traore from Boro.

West Ham this week enjoyed their first win of the season beating Wimbledon away in the League cup. Hopefully this gave the team some confidence moving into a game, while not a must win would be a big confident boost ahead of the international break. Of out 2 current mysterious injuries, Marko made the squad while Noble made the bench. What was interesting was Ogbonna was bombed out completely, and the centre back pairing consisted of Balbuena and League Cup scorer Diop.

So we start for the first time this season with one up top. Presumably to counter the fast midfield of the opposition. Should we be doing this at home ? No, is my opinion as we should use the OS to our advantage. This was borne out as even though WHU had the early advantage , Marko was on his own, against 3 defenders, and looked lost and almost disinterested. Snodgrass and Antonio were not as effective as they should be , but at least Snodgrass made an effort. That may be because Antonio started on the left. This is now 3 consecutive managers who are just trying to squeeze him in. He needs to either start on the right or not at all. Anderson seems to be a luxury we could do without right now despite him nearly opening the scoring early on. I don’t think he went past a player at any time in the game. Jack Wilshere was quite industrious in the middle. But with nothing going forward and when it did going nowhere, it was all huff and puff. Wolves were very tidy, and took advantage when they could and finished off the half on top.

Having seen Yarmolenko in mid week, my opinion was he needed to be on, and at the half time break he was duly introduced and made an effect almost immediately on the right and by playing further up the pitch. Anderson was still poor, but after 20 minutes Jack (who was starting to pull strings) was subbed for Obiang. Watching the body language suggests this was planned from the beginning. Once again I disagree. And I would have been wrong, as Obiang did liven things up and we seemed to have more connection with the front line. Hernandez was introduced maybe 10 minutes too late (75) and although he did link it up we still didn’t get any clear cut chances.

Our guests however, were getting better as the half went on (as per the first half – not sure if this is their “thing”) and the introduction of Traore gave some pace to attack our relatively solid centre back pairing. As the whole ground was getting ready to leave after a 6/10 0-0, Traore struck well from distance and beat Fabianski to nail us the bottom of the league and 0 points from 4 (last time this happened we went down).

A draw was the right result, but as in the Allardyce years , we have to play for the whole game and keep our concentration to keep this things more predictable.

Back to Wolves, fair play to them and big shout to their fans, who made themselves known the whole time. And had a big ole tifo flag, not seen in the away end since Juventus in 2016.

So what does Pellegrini do ? 2 up top is essential. Also, we have to be careful not to become the Marko show. I think making him the main man , is not good for him personality wise. Also, when him and Hernandez are on, surely Chicarito should be on the last man and not Marko. Once has played 3 World Cups and been a successful striker all his career, and the other, while good, has played up top for 1/2 a season. Marko also has the physical presence to win the balls and make the passes. Our midfield needs to be more consistent. Anderson left, Yarmo right, and Jack and Obiang in the middle. There, I’ve done it , I’ve dropped Noble. Only for a few weeks but he needs to see how he fits in this team, with the likes of Rice around as well. Diop seemed to play well yesterday which could be bad news for Ogbonna, as Balbuena was my MOTM.

No one is happy , and Everton away next. But if we play well, we stay up. Carry on chopping and changing and we get to have the most expensive team and stadium in the Championship, without the fighters required to get out of it.

WHUFC vs Brighton 20/10/2017 EPL 2017-2018

October 21, 2017 2 comments

WHBRI

Everyone has mate like this. They are a good friend to you and always say the right things, and help you out at the drop of a hat. But put them in front of the rest of your mates and they just turn into a plank. Saying the wrong things, being inappropriate and basically embarrassing you.

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WHUFC vs Crystal Palace 14/01/2017 EPL 2106-2017

January 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Warning Explicit content early on:

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WHUFC vs Liverpool FA CUP 4th rd replay 09/02/2016

February 10, 2016 1 comment

Don’t know where to start with this one. For the first time in a long time (Everton in the league cup last year 🙂 ), WHU delivered on a night under lights..

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WHUFC vs Manchester City 23/01/2016 EPL 2015-2016

January 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Late in!

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Hammers under floodlights, those were the days, blah, blah.

 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.
I’ll just leave this here:

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WHUFC vs Wolverhampton Wanderers – FACUP 3rd Round 2016

January 10, 2016 Leave a comment

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Sampling the pre match atmosphere

It’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to cup glory and the romance and fantastic stories that the FA Cup normally delivers.

None of these were apparent at Upton Park yesterday where an uninventive WHU beat a Wolves team looking for a draw.

The main problem from a hammers perspective was there was no one in the midfield who wanted to go forward until Payet came on. Noble, Song, Zarate, and Obiang were happy to pass it sideways all day long. Zarate tried a couple of shots from distance, and as usual refused to pass to players in better positions.  Song and Noble seemed to be trying to make the perfect pass through defence with little success.  All in all, this left Jelavic isolated and he  lost interest pretty early on.

What also didn’t help was that Wolves played with 8 players back most of the time, which as Sheffield United demonstrated to Man U yesterday, is a little frustrating. This surprised me ,as they had some good breaks, and made the space, but then ran out of people to pass to due to them all being in their own penalty box.

It will not surprise anyone to know the first shot on target for either team was in the 16th minute.

Finally , Payet and Carroll were introduced and the game changed, for the better. It’s amazing how Payet lifts the whole team to play better. With 5 minutes to go, Carroll laid off the ball for Jelavic to smash in a great half volley.

So , we are in the hat for the next round, but will have to up our game to progress in this competition.

MOTM (after my slagging of the midfield) was Pedro Obiang. He kept breaking up play through tackling and sharp reading of the opposition passes.

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Everyone enjoying the exciting game from the bar..