Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Manchester United

West Ham v Manchester United
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 5.30pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: talkSport

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Manchester United

NOTE FROM IAIN: The Predictor League for Man U is open HERE. Entries can be submitted until 3.30pm this afternoon.

Of course we would all love to see West Ham play beautiful football whilst winning, but it is quite pleasing to get three victories on the bounce whilst not being anywhere near our best. This weekend West Ham United welcome a Man Utd team on a similar run to the London Stadium for a tea-time kick off on Saturday. Ahead of the game I spoke to lifelong fan and ‘Cockney RedTim Davies to garner his thoughts on the season and the match.
Hi Tim. After a rather indifferent start to the season, it looks like Manchester United have finally started to get their act together, most notably winning away against Southampton: but where do you realistically think Manchester United will finish the season?
Main issue is inconsistency. We can beat anyone, but then lose to Palace, Arsenal etc. Overall team feels more structured than in previous times under say Jose. Forward line is awesome and Cavani a revelation. Bruno is great as is VDB. Defence is concerning. I think we can certainly make top 4. The League is generally wide open – but not saying we’re winning it!

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjær the man to take you forward, or are your board being a bit too indulgent towards one of your ex-players?
OGS has brought an identity and his signings have been overall very good, after variable quality of LVG & Jose. I think he is more tactically astute than some give him credit for. e.g. results against PSG, etc. Having said that too many indifferent displays, e.g. Arse (totally didn’t show up) and some strange decisions e.g. Pogba playing over VDB. On balance more time should be given, despite some of the bollocks written in the press.
With your recent signing of Edison Cavani, who must be well into his 30s, it looks like Manchester Utd are following in the footsteps of West Ham of old: signing one-time-great players towards the end of their careers. Who do you hope to be signing over the next transfer break?
Not necessarily a new thing for us and I would remind you of Van Persie & Zlatan. Both did okay? Our priority needs to be in defence – Maguire & Lindelof doesn’t function well enough as a pairing.

Which Manchester United players are playing consistently well for you, and conversely who have been dreadful?
Bruno awesome, Rashford very good, Fred greatly improved, VDB looking really promising as does Teles. Martial has been disappointing but has had a few knocks and he’s a player who needs a run in the team. Maguire has obviously been a big concern post Mykonos, but I feel he has played better recently.

It must rankle a bit seeing your greatest rivals fighting it out to be top dogs in the League over the past 3 or 4 years. Who at his stage of the season do you think will end up winning the league come next May? And who will fill the next 3 places in the league?
All league struggles are cyclical. Under Fergie we dominated for around 20 years but it cannot last forever. Strangely perhaps as a Red I’ve quite enjoyed watching Liverpool over the last few seasons, dynamic attacking football. But this year it is genuinely wide open. Despite losing 3 games we are not that far behind. Liverpool getting injuries and other teams know better what they do. Retaining the league one of the hardest jobs going. City a little adrift and not quite at the level they were at. Spurs are the most improved side, but can they overcome the usual mental frailty? As a West Ham fan I’m sure you would say and I hope not! Not sure if Bale really there at this moment. Chelsea are also looking quite strong and unlike Spurs they know how to do it.

There is a small group of teams that look like being cast adrift from the rest of the table. Who are your three tips for the drop?
Sadly Fulham, Sheffield United & West Brom.

After a bit of a sabbatical your ex-manager David Moyes has ended up at West Ham – what do you think of the job he is doing for us, and why might he be a better fit at West Ham, than at Manchester United?
He is not a manager that I’m fond of, but I am biased. He is certainly doing better for you , as he did at Everton before. I think at Utd the job was too big for Moyes and he seemed to shrink in the post. Then again many have suffered, who had big reps, even Jose. Perhaps more modest ambitions suit Moyes better?

Presumably you mean Man United! Which West Ham players, if any would you like to see turning out for you?
I like Antonio, very difficult to play against. Fornals is also doing very well and in my Fantasy footy team right now.

How will you line up on Sunday? Players/formation
Diamond or 4231
Cavani might get a start but depends if banned! Or how goes against PSG. I would like to see VDB

It’s not very often that West Ham sit above Manchester United in the table: you must be wary of meeting a team in the top 5 of the table? Which of our two clubs is going to be able to continue their current winning run? Are you confident of victory? Prediction for the score please.
Recently Utd have performed well against top 6. Arguably lower clubs have proved more difficult to break down. This went out of the window against Spuds, but it did include the Lamela theatrics, which had a big impact. Confident? Depends if we turn up. Record against London sides awful this season, but maybe time to buck the trend. Away record is good and normally dodgy away record against Irons is driven by your supporters.
I’m going for a 1-2 win, but tbh any score is possible.

Many thanks to Tim (obviously a man who loves abbreviations!) for his time and considerations. I’m hoping that we can take advantage of Man Utd between 2 important Champions League games, although we will have to ‘up our ante’ compared to our last three performances. I’m going to reverse his prediction and go for a 2 – 1 victory for West Ham. COYI That last one’s for Tim!

Embed from Getty Images


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Man Utd

Blast from the past

45 years ago, Liverpool were on their way to Bob Paisley’s first league title, Southampton were to go on to win their only FA Cup trophy and West Ham United were in the midst of a season that would see them finish in 18th place in the First Division. As the Hammers hosted Manchester United on the 25th October 1975, Art Garfunkel was number one with ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and Jaws was making waves in the US before a Boxing Day release in the UK.

The game at the Boleyn Ground was to be marred by violent scenes as fighting in the South Bank during the second half left 102 people injured – 38 people were arrested, with the violence reportedly involving 400 fans. The official attendance was recorded as 38,528 but many more are thought to have made their way into the stadium. The escalating trouble led to a 20-minute break in play and Hammers General Manager Ron Greenwood coming onto the pitch.

As for the match action, the Hammers were given an interval lead after goalkeeper Mervyn Day’s long drop-kick caught out the Manchester United centre-backs with Alan Taylor racing through to nod past the onrushing Alex Stepney and into the net.

Embed from Getty Images

The Red Devils equalised after half-time when Steve Coppell’s free-kick was headed on by Stewart Houston and future Hammers manager Lou Macari rose to flick the ball beyond Day. Incidentally, Macari was partnered up front that day by another player who would go on to have a West Ham connection, 1980 FA Cup winner Stuart Pearson.

West Ham found a winner when the late Graham Paddon (who ended the season as runner-up to Trevor Brooking for Hammer of the Year) drove in a low cross which evaded Taylor but not Bobby Gould who converted a low shot back across Stepney to claim maximum points for the Irons. Both Hammers goalscorers from this match are pictured above with the FA Cup just five months earlier. The goals from this game and a brief interview with matchwinner Gould can be viewed in my video below.

The victory kept West Ham in third place in the First Division going into November but it was Man Utd who would end the 1975/76 campaign in that position. The Hammers would drop all the way down to 18th in the table by the end of the season and finish only six points clear of relegation, with no wins at all from the last 16 league matches.

West Ham United: Mervyn Day, John McDowell, Tommy Taylor, Keith Coleman, Frank Lampard, Pat Holland, Trevor Brooking, Graham Paddon, Keith Robson, Bobby Gould, Alan Taylor.

Manchester United: Alex Stepney, Jimmy Nicholl, Brian Greenhoff, Martin Buchan, Stewart Houston, Steve Coppell, Gerry Daly (David McCreery), Tommy Jackson, Sammy McIlroy, Stuart Pearson, Lou Macari.

Club Connections

Manchester United coach Michael Carrick faces his first club. A largely impressive list of players join him in representing West Ham United and Manchester United over the years. These include:

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll, Les Sealey.

Defenders: Rio Ferdinand, Noel Cantwell, Fred Milnes, Jonathan Spector, Patrice Evra.

Midfielders: James McCrae, Bill McCartney, Paul Ince, Ralph Milne, Luke Chadwick, Ravel Morrison.

Strikers: Billy Grassam, Javier Hernandez, Stuart Pearson, Teddy Sheringham, Ted MacDougall, Charlie Mackie, David Bellion, Carlos Tevez.

In addition, Lou Macari played for Manchester United and managed West Ham. Dave Sexton and Frank O’Farrell both played for the Hammers before going on to manage the Red Devils.

Today’s focus is on the only man to have managed both Manchester United and West Ham United. David Moyes was born in Glasgow on 25th April 1963 and started his career with the youth team at Icelandic club IBV in 1978. A centre-half, he began his professional career at Celtic and won the Scottish Premier Division in 1981/82. He also represented Scotland at youth level, captaining the Under-18s. Moyes signed for Cambridge in 1983 before joining Bristol City in 1985. He moved to Shrewsbury in 1987 before returning to Scotland in 1990 to play for Dunfermline. He also appeared for Hamilton Academical before ending his playing career back in England with Preston, winning what is now the League Two title in 1995/96.

Moyes became manager of Preston in January 1998, leading the club to survival in the third tier in his first half-season. He reached the Play-Offs in his first full season as a manager before steering the Deepdale club to the Second Division title in 2000 and promotion to the second tier. He took Preston to the First Division Play-Offs in 2000/01 before leaving for Premier League Everton in March 2002. He managed the Toffees between 2002 and 2013, steering them clear of relegation danger in his first months in charge and to the qualification stages of the Champions League in 2005. The club also reached the FA Cup Final in 2009. He was also named LMA Manager of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2009.

Embed from Getty Images

Moyes moved to Manchester United in the summer of 2013, replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as manager at Old Trafford. He won the Community Shield but the Red Devils were ninth after 15 games, although they did top their Champions League group. The club were knocked out of the FA Cup by fellow Premier League side Swansea in the third round and Moyes’ hopes of a League Cup Final were dashed in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Sunderland in the semi-finals. The club’s Champions League run was also ended by Bayern Munich at the quarter-final stage. Moyes was sacked by Manchester United on 22nd April 2014, two days after a 2-0 defeat at his former club Everton had left the club in seventh position and made Champions League qualification impossible with four matches of the season still remaining. He had been in charge at Old Trafford for ten months, the third-shortest managerial stint in the club’s history and the shortest in 82 years. His sacking came despite calls from several former Manchester United players, such as Denis Law and David Beckham, for Moyes to be given more time at the club.

Moyes’ next job was in Spain’s La Liga, taking over at Real Sociedad in November 2014. He led the club to a 12th-placed finish but was dismissed in November 2015. He was named as Sunderland’s new manager in the summer of 2016, replacing former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, but the club was relegated the following May and Moyes resigned.

Embed from Getty Images

Following the departure of Super Slaven Bilic in November 2017, Moyes was appointed manager of West Ham United on a contract until the end of the season. His first match in charge was a 2-0 defeat at Watford on 19th November 2017, with his first win coming against Chelsea, who were defeated 1-0 at London Stadium on 9th December. Despite battling relegation, Moyes made a handsome profit for the club in the winter transfer window of 2018 – he brought in Joao Mario on loan and Jordan Hugill on a permanent deal for a reported combined £10m, but made £34.5m for the club by selling Jose Fonte (£5m), Andre Ayew (£20.5m) and Diafra Sakho (£9m). Patrice Evra later joined on a free transfer. Moyes secured the club’s survival with two matches remaining – and a 13th-placed finish – but was not offered a new contract in May 2018.

Manuel Pellegrini was brought into the club but when results took a downturn, Moyes returned to West Ham for a second spell as manager in late December 2019. His first match saw a 4-0 win for the Hammers over Bournemouth on New Years Day 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic saw the season suspended for three months but Moyes’ boys performed well after the restart, beating Chelsea, Norwich and Watford and drawing with Newcastle, Man Utd and Aston Villa to secure survival and a 16th-placed finish. Moyes had enjoyed particular success with the form of Michail Antonio, having a similar impact on the winger-turned-striker as he had with Marko Arnautovic in his first spell in east London. His signings of Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen had also proved to have a positive effect on the side.

Embed from Getty Images

Moyes, now 57, is currently in charge of a West Ham United side sitting in fifth position in the Premier League at the time of writing after an impressive start to the 2020/21 campaign. The Hammers have lost only one of their last eight league games – these matches have included a stirring comeback from 3-0 down at Tottenham and comfortable victories over Wolves and Leicester. Moyes’ contract expires at the end of the season – it has to be hoped that a well-deserved extension is agreed as soon as possible.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Andre Marriner; the 49-year-old failed to send off Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for an elbow on Winston Reid in August 2016, with the Hammers trailing 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining. In pre-VAR times, the Argentine had to be retrospectively charged with violent conduct and was suspended for three matches, a decision which did nothing to benefit West Ham. Marriner did, however, show leniency that day towards the visitors by failing to issue Arthur Masuaku with a second yellow card on more than one occasion.

Embed from Getty Images

Since we achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012, the Birmingham-based official has been far from a good omen for West Ham – he has refereed 20 of our league matches, officiating in only three wins for the Hammers, six draws and 11 defeats. He officiated the Irons for our 2-0 defeat at Wolves last December, our 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and for our 1-1 home draw with Everton in January. His most recent match in charge of the Hammers was for our 3-0 League Cup second round win over Charlton in September.

Possible line-ups

David Moyes is without Andriy Yarmolenko. The Hammers have won only three of their past 23 league meetings against the Red Devils, losing 14 and drawing six.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is without Phil Jones, while Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford are doubts. Manchester United have only failed to score in four of their past 21 trips to West Ham.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Bowen, Soucek, Rice, Fornals; Antonio.

Possible Manchester United XI: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Mata, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


The Jimmy Cooney Column

A Big Win, and, The Return of the Crowd! (Well, a few, anyway)!

Greetings you Irons! Since we had a Monday night thriller? Chiller? Spiller? I’m not sure of the publication schedule, so I’m not exactly sure when this you will see this, however, it’s been last updated at approximately 10am in London, 2 Dec, 2020, started aprox 24 hrs before.

I know, you thinking, and I’m saying “who cares!” :-) on top of everything, we are all probably aware that West Ham United F.C. beat Aston Villa in as “old school” (there was blood) a match as you can get, mixed with the kinks and newly implemented laws and technology that all must endure, some are in favor of, most are against, and none can do anything about….. Perhaps THATS the problem… changing “too much,too soon” ask the New York Dolls about “too much, too soon”…. ask me….. ;-))

As earlier pointed out, thoughtfully and thoroughly, West Ham United beat the “as equally revived” from last year’s trials and tribulations of a relegation scrap that I was sure would end with the last match, against Aston Villa, however we know what happened, both played their form well enough that we were safe thanks to a solid draw taken from up Manchester way, west end, it would appear….“the Stretford End” Red, Satan…. THAT side of Manchester…. them… and Villa had to lose, however, also had to have like 3 other clubs all win by 6,7 goals, so, it was pretty much a “beach day” for both, and the score reflected that, imho, 1-1, and, oddly enough, due to the obvious this year….. I was literally at the beach that day!

So, when I say “who cares”, up a few paragraphs is I mostly mean we’ve won a match that in my approaching 21 of actively following this league and most accurately, this club, would most likely have ended by draw or loss, not with West Ham taking all three points, (I “Predicored” a half time 1-1, and full time 2-2, and con sartnit….. Damn You, VAR!!!!!) ;-))

Tbh, I was shocked in a very pleasant way that they didn’t find a way to explain it in Villas favor….right now, letter of law, thats offside…..do I think we should be taking it that far, no, but this falls under the “can’t do anything about” category. Just like the pen, was it weak, sure, letter of law today? A penalty.

Yes, Grealish is ANOTHER player who you’d ask why he has to resort to the “dark arts” as often as he does. He doesn’t need to, he’s really good, the “1st” equalizer that stood, Grealish found space in the center channel, it was in before I could scream at Oggy and Balbuena (in support, of course cos they’ve been outstanding) to, “COLLAPSE THE CENTER!!!” Still, even both match commentators for NBC sport, Conor McNamara ,and West Ham academy product Matt Holland, commented about “the Dark Arts” of the game, of which he seems to not use, but abuse…… a debate, perhaps for another day.

The other exciting thing about this win, is even perhaps in 2015/16, this still ends in a draw or even worse, (we are getting the rub, and making as much out of it in a positive way) is just that, Bankes? (Yeah Hamburg, I had to check make sure I didn’t type what I wanted to) Other than the facts you disclosed about him, I could perhaps see that he was gonna do everything to make it look, or to help Villa get something, if not the win cos this is now 6 matches that he has overseen for Villa that they’ve not won. He also called the law for our 1st Match against Newcastle, needless to say, not an idol of either support, yet he did do everything within his power to make it look like he doesn’t have anything against Villa, definitely favored them in fouls, however I did see him let some tackles go for us by Coufal, Rice, and Soucek, that are usually called now, but we’re perfectly legal I up to 20, 30 years ago, so, small credit for him trying to let “football” come back a bit.

That all being said, I will take the 3pts with a mint, and a monthly Transpass (the golden ticket of riding public transportation in Philadelphia, one of the worst in the country, just being honest, I’ve lived here for 75% of my life, I should know….. :-))

So, as I was in a weird mood Monday morning when this was started, I still am, not the best, a rainy chilly Monday, into a “winters coming” Tuesday, having a very hard time thinking about what to write. It’s mid Wednesday now, but to the talking point, over all.

As I settled in for the match, I kid you not…. right before they announced the fact that they are going ahead this weekend with letting 2000 supporters since any have been let in the 9th of March…. I actually finally thought, after all this time, (almost like I didn’t let myself notice it), how much it sucks that there have been no supporters in the stands, perhaps feeling for the first time since June that I was being a touch “ungrateful” that I had football to watch, and Especially how much…“everything” was missing that no live supporters are enjoying this run, then, the announcement came as if reading my thoughts and not only setting off my overactive superstitions, but also a sort of excitement (that I won’t let get away from me, cos the 2 times I have about this Virus, we’ve had another spike.)

The game really is incomplete without the support, and no one feels that more than those who go every week, and follow the club over hill and dale to cheer on the lads every week they can.

Yet, we are dealing with something that scares me more than staring down the barrel of a .44 magnum hand cannon, I don’t know, perhaps experience? Seriously, perhaps an extreme comparison, but if one wants to catch the eye these days…. Maybe it’s the crappy oddsmaker in my head that has ensured I’ve not ever suffered a gambling addiction, thankfully, (a very real and potentially tragic thing) tell me crazy things when adrenaline is coursing through tell me you have a better shot at not getting shot, by using guile, or the good reflexes that it took to be a decent keeper, goalie, 2nd Baseman and Split end,than I do than catching a virus that they (the medical community) has really just began to fight? Still it in those moments of extreme thought when the realities of bad things kinda smack me in the face.

Of course, it’s not like they are letting the hoards back in, they are doing a gradual build up, hopefully not leading to more spikes in cases, cos I’m not sure about Europe, but if this isn’t at least reigned in a bit by the beginning of ’21, I shudder to think.

Which would perhaps bring me to my suggestion of a discussion point, are you o.k. with the partial opening of the gates? or are their different ways to reintroduce supporters back into the grounds?

As my opening paragraph states, I’m pretty in between about it, I’d rather wait until 20,000? 30,000? could be let back in? However, how long could that take??? It just smacked me in the face yesterday whilst I was watching our squad walk down the tunnel and out onto the pitch alone, how much I miss the fans….. and I’m “armchair hardcore”, but the fans are an entertainment in an of themselves, either if you are there, or not.

Yet, how important is that when one has seen how this “bleeping” virus kill in every way possible, figuratively, emotionally, and literally, and should we yet mess with something we should just be grateful is happening to begin with?

Personally, I’m right now the middle, I go back and forth. Unfortunately this won’t be my first column with pictures, (like I said, been a few weird days, I’m a bit off my game), and just the reality of life right now can have a very bipolar effect upon me, as I’d imagine it would most. That all being said, I’m pretty grateful that West Ham United are currently T-5th…… it’s not like we’ve never seen it before, but I’m starting to think this really is a special squad.

Please, don’t let this get you down, the subject has been broached, as I edit, a debate about “Freedom of Choice” is a foot, (a great Devo album and song) but it’s the age old debate, only now, applied to if it (the vaccine) should be “enforced” or one should have their own “choice” in getting the vaccine, so it’s obviously a very a relevant subject.

I thought they might wait until they could let “5 figures” in, but according to NBC sport, there will be 2000 let in to see the “Red Devils” (accurately named) :)) and it’s not like it’s “hot off the press”, but since it’s almost midweek, a short week after 2 very long ones, I figured I’d see where the general consensus is on that, and besides, I’ve sort of hit a block, form is good, fortunes revealed a bit of itself, and long may that continue.

Love ya All!

Jimmy

COYI!!


The HamburgHammer Column

Heroes and Villans: Hammers' broom sweeps West Ham into 5th place!

Never in doubt! (Only joking, my fellow Hammers!)
Blimey, that game has turned the colour of parts of my barnet a grayer shade of pale although personally I prefer to call that hue silver chalice.
A game packed with incidents and heart-stopping moments galore.

Embed from Getty Images

I can’t remember a game where I have shouted more expletives and naughty English and German words at the screen than this one.
Usually I’m fairly docile thanks to my matchday screwdriver routine.
It didn’t work this time.
I was properly cream-crackered at the final whistle, I can tell you that!

By all accounts we should have probably lost that game. We usually do.
We have now probably used up all good luck we were due for the remainder of the season, we shall see.

Embed from Getty Images

So, how did we do it ?
Watkins sent a penalty kick (after an unnecessary shirt tug by Rice in the box) onto the crossbar. His injury time equalizer got chalked off by VAR due to an eyelash borderline offside position, another of those really tight ones, too close to call really.
It gave us plenty of post-game moaning about VAR from the Scouse llama, Jamie Carragher, and his irritating whiney voice.

On the replay Watkins looked marginally offside, but we have seen other similar cases where the goal was then given anyway.
Make no mistake: The way we won this game is how big teams like Liverpool, Chelsea or Man City win a lot of their games when they’re not really at the races.

With a healthy dose of good fortune. Ours usually likes to go into hiding.
So much so that we put that fact into our club anthem.
Villa had won every away game in the league this season. Onto West Ham away then for Villa. We all know what usually happens with a stat like this, we tend to help opponents out to keep runs going. Or starting one.
But we won!

Embed from Getty Images

Let us talk about Peter Bankes for a minute (I’m sure Bankes is rhyming slang for something!). He happened to be our referee on the night and he basically blew his whistle whenever a Villa player hit the deck while West Ham probably got two free kicks all game. Mr.Bankes apparently is a Merseysider (why am I not surprised ?) and I figured that Villa must have promised him a lift back home (or at least the first bit up to a service station near Birmingham). That might explain why his calls were so lopsided.

Embed from Getty Images

When I was trying to gather some information on the guy, doing my research online, I found his Wikipedia entry which must have been tampered with by a football fan with serious hacking skills and similar experiences of Bankes refereeing games with Aston Villa getting the majority of calls as it read:

“Peter Bankes is a rookie football referee. He was brought up as an Aston Villa fan from a young age. He officiates many games for Aston Villa in the EFL Championship.”

I know it shouldn’t really, but it made me chuckle. Great sense of humour!

The game was also bizarre because West Ham scored early on in both halves. And after both goals we almost immediately handed the initiative, ball and momentum over to Villa for large portions of the game.

66% possession for Villa tell part of the story, six shots on goal another.
West Ham chipped in with 34% possession and only 2 shots on goal.
Both bulged the Villa net though and last time I looked that’s still what counts in football.

Embed from Getty Images

“Only Fools And Horses” is one of my favourite British go-to comedy staples and most of you will have seen the episode alluded to in my headline. The christmas special where Trigger gets awarded a medal for saving the community money by using the same broom for 20 years, sweeping the roads of Peckham. While his broom by his own admission had gone through 17 new heads and 14 new handles in this time, he still maintains it’s the same broom and proudly provides proof of the fact by way of a photo…LOL

The name of that episode obviously worked well for the pun in my headline as we had played the Villans, with West Ham as the obvious but ever so fortunate heroes. But it is also fitting because David Moyes really used the heads and handles at his disposal quite well in this game.
He was certainly making the most of the heads of Ogbonna and Bowen quite literally…

I thought both Masuaku and Antonio had off-days in the first half (Antonio didn’t really look match fit yet). Several other players though weren’t quite their usual reliable self, Soucek, Rice and Cresswell (by their standards) didn’t pull up many trees either.

So I was impressed when Moyes put Benrahma and Haller on for the start of the second half (very early by Moyes’s standards) and both didn’t waste much time (28 seconds to be precise) to have an impact with our second goal, with Benrahma providing a peach of an assist for Bowen to steer a masterful header into the corner with Haller providing back up to nod it in just in case Bowen might not get to the ball after all.

We also saw the return of Mr.West Ham, Mark Noble for a little cameo.
Which was good to see. We remained under the cosh though, Nobes couldn’t really help that.

As in the first half, after our second goal it was all hands on deck again and Villa were running rings around us at times. That’s where my bilingual swearing came in handy. Maybe I’m lucky Mr.Bankes doesn’t understand German, otherwise I might have been red-carded with a lengthy stadium ban thrown in for good measure…LOL

Embed from Getty Images

I don’t know exactly how we managed to get all three points out of this one, but we did get the win. It’s nigh on impossible to keep Grealish quiet or on both feet throughout 97 minutes, but we did a reasonably good job with it.

I suppose that’s where it’s paying off for us that Moyes has been given the opportunity to play the same back three/back five for several games running now.

Chemistry seems to help a lot with winning points. Even more so when you have experienced chaps like Messrs Coufal, Balbuena, Ogbonna and Cresswell protecting your goal.
What a weird name for a British security firm though…;-))

Let’s not forget to give Ogbonna some praise for an absolute monster of a header that gave us a very early 1:0 lead. It must be fun to play for West Ham these days.

But it’s probably less fun for the gaffer to pick the starting XI for our next game on Saturday against Manchester United.

The Red Devils for sure haven’t started the season the way they would have wanted to. But their most recent come-from-behind win at Southampton has shown that you must never ever underestimate that team, take anything for granted or take your foot off the gas after taking a lead.

Manchester United have gone on a similar run like us, winning their last three league fixtures. It promises to be a tight encounter, this one…

Embed from Getty Images

It’s rare for West Ham to sit in 5th place in the Premier League.
And Manchester United are always a tricky customer. But they are certainly no longer as invincible as they used to be. And we tend to raise our game in this particular fixture for one reason or another.

As the above picture shows Antonio and Haller have successfully played together in the past already. I am confident, no, I am 100% certain that they will enjoy being on the pitch together, harrassing opposing defenders.

Embed from Getty Images

I’m not saying that the upcoming game is the ideal foil for that combination. But I would love to see Moyes finding a way to unleash both of them on PL rivals in the near future.
Maybe in a front three of Benrahma, Haller and Antonio against certain opponents.

I’m typing my final words as the clock strikes midnight in Hamburg. The witching hour has begun…I have to admit I’m really impressed how West Ham have managed to ghost their way up the PL table, especially considering that they had to negotiate the toughest list of opening fixtures of any team in the league this season. Long may it continue!

COYI!!!

Embed from Getty Images


Copyright © 2020 Iain Dale Limited. Terms and conditions. Cookies.
Website by Russell Brown.