The HamburgHammer Column

The season of giving is here - but it doesn't feel jolly at West Ham this December

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Anyone remember our game against Bury ? Stupid question, that 10:0 win has gone down in West Ham folklore. Friday evening my beloved Cordi did a reverse Bury performance, the Concordia first team suffered a quite historic 10:1 defeat away at Victoria (apt name that!).

I was there that evening in the cold and rain when the boys in red&black made history for all the wrong reasons, but it’s not really the kind of spectacle worth boasting about to any future great nephews of mine though. That 10:1 defeat didn’t happen in a testimonial kick-about or pre-season friendly either, it was a proper league fixture. Where Cordi even took the lead after seven minutes…

The other big Hamburg teams both lost their games last weekend as well.

Needless to say I wasn’t in the best of moods when the London derby against Arsenal came around on Monday evening.

Especially as I saw we were only playing one striker upfront again. And London derby ? I don’t know about you, but it didn’t feel like one at all.
Plenty of empty seats to begin with, many fans had obviously decided the sofa at home or having a pint down the local pub were the more comfortable option to watch.

The first half hour of the game was awful from both sides.
An advert to stop watching football altogether.
It was as boring as being forced to witness a very slow granny in a dimly lit chamber in Ipswich, knitting a particularly ugly christmas jumper in real time. At least with that one you would end up with a bit of warm clothing at the end of your ordeal.

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When Ogbonna scored from a header, being deflected in by way of an Arsenal player, I was hoping this would boost our team’s confidence enough to seal victory by adding a few more goals against a woeful Arsenal defence while fighting for every ball. Instead it all came undone within a horrendous ten minute spell in the second half.
The season of giving in our case means that we give every team in a crisis a much needed confidence boost of their own by offering them the perfect turnaround game, playing bad old West Ham.

I was thinking briefly if I should post a column at all. As you can see, I sort of did, but I will not say a whole lot more at this point because frankly I am so done, sick and tired trying to get to the root of the problems at this flippin’ basket case of a club. I simply don’t know what to say anymore. We have tried various managers with different personalities and management styles.
We have tried two different stadiums and approximately 142 different strikers, some of whom actually were wingers or attacking midfielders.

Still we are pretty much in the same position as a team we were in ten years ago.

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It gets harder and harder to muster any enthusiasm to even watch our games. Which is saying a lot as German football in general and especially local lower league level football in Hamburg is nearing its winter break (only one more Cordi cup game coming up next weekend), so December and January will not yield any games for me to attend which means I will have to get my fix from the busy christmas schedule, however, I am not exactly hopeful there will be many presents in the shape of points for West Ham under the tree this year. A relegation scrap it is then. We have been there before of course, losing some of those in the past, but also enjoying the occasional lucky or even great escape.

Which one is it going to be this season ? Most of us probably figured that relegation scraps would be a scenario firmly consigned to the past after our move to massive London Stadium. It may look like the stadium of a big club, but in most aspects on and off the pitch, unfortunately, we are anything but. As a West Ham fan of course I never joined the madhouse because of future glory, trophies or the notorious next level. All that was pretty much pie in the sky territory in 1996 when I became a Hammer. And it looks like it still is.

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Losing of course wasn’t much fun in 1996 either. But it all felt different somehow. There was more togetherness, more West Ham against the rest of the world, now there is constant infighting, among fans, between manager and players, fans against manager, fans against board, board against fans.

Back in 1996 losing at home against Arsenal probably would have dampened my mood for the rest of the week. In 2019, I will probably have put this latest defeat out of my mind and my soul within 24 hours or so. That’s what feeling detached from this club can do to you.

Still, COYI!!!

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Hamburg football update: As mentioned above both HSV and St.Pauli lost their respective games, St.Pauli are in deep relegation trouble while HSV have lost precious ground in their promotion chase. I have mentioned the 10:1 defeat of the Concordia first team who are firmly stuck in no-man’s land of mid-table mediocrity. Season already feels like going nowhere.
Same for the U23s who lost again too and haven’t got much left to play for now except personal pride.

Only bright spot once more was the Cordi women’s team who won their cup fixture 3:1 against Berne, a side playing one level above Cordi, the league where the girls will end up playing from next summer on should they seal promotion. They have now made it safely to the quarter-final stage of the cup.


Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Arsenal

West Ham v Arsenal
FA Premier League
London Stadium
KO 8pm
TV: Sky Sports 1
Radio: BBC 5 Live

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


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Arsenal

Blast from the past

27th September 1924 – Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald led a minority Labour government and, the following day, US Army pilots John Harding and Erik Nelson completed the first aerial circumnavigation, which took them 175 days and 74 stops before their return to Seattle.

Meanwhile, 35,000 at the Boleyn Ground saw the Hammers defeat Arsenal 1-0 courtesy of a goal from a former Gunner, 27-year-old inside-right Stan Earle. Born in Stratford on the 6th September 1897, Earle played for England Schoolboys before signing as an amateur with Clapton. He played there with future Hammers team-mate Viv Gibbins but also turned out for Arsenal, still as an amateur, between 1922 and 1924. He played four games for Arsenal in two years, scoring three goals. Despite such limited playing time with his club, Earle had made his international debut for England against France on 17th May 1924. He continued to play for Clapton, winning the 1924 FA Amateur Cup.

Three months after his England debut, and the month before this featured match, Earle (pictured) signed for West Ham United and scored six goals in 18 games in his first season – this was his second goal for the Irons, and his first at Upton Park. He played in 37 of the 42 league games the following season, 1925/26, as the Hammers developed a fine forward line of Earle, Vic Watson and Jimmy Ruffell, the trio notching 41 goals between them that season. Earle impressed sufficiently to earn his second England cap on 22nd October 1927, against Northern Ireland. After eight seasons at the Boleyn Ground, Earle departed at the end of the 1931/32 campaign having scored 58 goals in 273 appearances in all competitions. He ended his career back at Clapton before coaching amateur club Walthamstow Avenue and managing Leyton FC. Earle died in Colchester on the 26th September 1971 at the age of 74.

Syd King’s Hammers finished in 13th place in the 1924/25 Division One season while Leslie Knighton’s Gunners ended up 20th, seven points and one place clear of relegation. Vic Watson would be top scorer with 23 goals in 47 appearances. Huddersfield won the league title and Sheffield United won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Tommy Hampson, Billy Henderson, George Horler, George Carter, George Kay, Albert Cadwell, Tommy Yews, Stan Earle, Vic Watson, Billy Moore, Jimmy Ruffell.

Arsenal: Jock Robson, Alf Baker, Andy Kennedy, Bob John, Jack Butler, Billy Milne, John Clark, James Ramsay, Harry Woods, Andy Neil, Billy Blyth.

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for West Ham United and Arsenal. Lukasz Fabianski and Jack Wilshere welcome their former club. Other players to have represented both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: Charles Ambler, Richard Wright, Manuel Almunia, Jim Standen.

Defenders: James Jackson, Matthew Upson, Nigel Winterburn, Carl Jenkinson, Steve Walford, Bob Stevenson.

Midfielders: Samir Nasri, Stewart Robson, Liam Brady, Yossi Benayoun, Archie Macauley, David Bentley, James Bigden, Roddy McEachrane, Alex Song, Henri Lansbury, Luis Boa Morte, Fred Kemp.

Strikers: Harry Lewis, Bobby Gould, Jeremie Aliadiere, Dick Burgess, John Blackwood, Fergie Hunt, Dr Jimmy Marshall, Kaba Diawara, Jimmy Bloomfield, Charlie Satterthwaite, Marouane Chamakh, Billy Linward, Lee Chapman, Tommy Lee, Ian Wright, Peter Kyle, John Hartson, Lucas Perez, Stan Earle, John Radford, Davor Suker.

Ron Greenwood was also assistant manager at Arsenal before becoming manager of West Ham.

Today’s focus though falls on the man who will be in the opposition dugout this evening. Freddie Ljungberg was born on 16th April 1977 in Vittsjo, Sweden. The Ljungbergs moved to Halmstad when Freddie was five; he would later attend Sannarpsgymnasiet, the same school fellow former Hammer Niclas Alexandersson attended. Ljungberg began his career with local club Halmstads in 1994 at the age of 17, winning the Swedish Cup in 1995 and the Swedish league title in 1997.

The 21-year-old Ljungberg moved to Arsenal in 1998 for £3m – he scored on his debut for the club, a 3-0 win over Manchester United at Highbury on 20th September 1998. Ljungberg’s best season in north London was arguably the Double-winning campaign of 2001/02 when he scored 17 goals in 39 matches – his six goals in five games in April 2002 (including one in a 2-0 win over West Ham at Highbury, pictured below) helped maintain Arsenal’s winning league run which stretched from February until the end of the season.

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Ljungberg scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 final-day win at Sunderland in May 2003 and won the 2003 FA Cup a week later. He was a key member of the Invincibles side which won the Premier League in 2004, contributing ten goals in 43 matches in 2003/04 as the Gunners won the title without losing a single league match. He bettered that tally in 2004/05, scoring 14 goals in 38 games and again ended the season with silverware, winning the FA Cup for a third time. He reached the Champions League Final with Arsenal in 2006, although they would be defeated by Barcelona. His final season with Arsenal was the first campaign at the Emirates – his last goal for the club was his only strike in the 2006/07 campaign and came in a 3-1 FA Cup fourth round replay win at Bolton on Valentine’s Day 2007. His last game for Arsenal was a 2-2 North London derby draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane on 21st April 2007. Ljungberg had scored 72 goals in 325 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners before moving across London to West Ham United.

Alan Curbishley signed the 30-year-old Ljungberg on a four-year deal for a fee approaching £3m, although then-chairman Eggert Magnusson negotiated the fee and Ljungberg’s contract. Ljungberg made 28 appearances for the Hammers, making his debut as captain in a 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City on 11th August 2007. He scored his first goal for the club on 9th February 2008 in a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham, with his second and final goal for the Hammers coming in a 2-1 defeat at Sunderland on 29th March 2008. His final game was a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle on 26th April 2008, a game which saw him break his ribs when Magpies defender Steven Taylor landed on him accidentally.

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Ljungberg won 75 caps for Sweden, scoring 14 goals. He was a member of the Swedish squad at Euro 2004 and Euro 2008, as well as at two World Cups in 2002 and 2006. After Euro 2008, Ljungberg agreed to terminate his West Ham contract just a year into his four-year deal for a sum of £6m. Ljungberg stated, "I gave my all at West Ham and enjoyed my time there but the decision is the best for the both of us. Now, I will take my time to consider my football future”. His two goals for the Irons can be seen in my video below.

Ljungberg signed for Seattle Sounders in 2009 and joined Chicago Fire a year later. He signed for Celtic in 2011 before moving to Japan later that year to join Shimizu S-Pulse. He announced his retirement from football in August 2012 but announced a comeback in July 2014, signing for Mumbai City to promote the launch of the Indian Super League. He played just four matches before moving back to London where he became coach of Arsenal’s Under-15s in July 2016. He was named assistant manager of Wolfsburg’s first team in February 2017 but left the club six months later. Now 42, Ljungberg is back at Arsenal as the club’s caretaker manager. He had been the club’s Under-23 coach since June 2018 before being promoted to the first-team set-up earlier this year.

Referee

Monday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2019/20 is Dean’s 20th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 25 of our league matches, officiating in ten wins for the Hammers, eight draws and seven defeats.

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Dean refereed our final match at the Boleyn when we famously triumphed 3-2 over Manchester United. His decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli just 15 minutes into our 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils in January 2017 was later rescinded. Dean’s two Hammers appointments this season were the 5-0 opening day home defeat to Manchester City and, most recently, our 0-0 draw at Aston Villa in September when he sent off Arthur Masuaku.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United will be without the injured Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Lanzini but Winston Reid and Jack Wilshere are back in full training and Michail Antonio could return. Robert Snodgrass hobbled out of the 2-0 defeat at Wolves five days ago. Ryan Fredericks is one yellow card away from a one-match suspension. West Ham have only beaten Arsenal twice in 17 home matches in all competitions since 1999. No side has beaten West Ham more in the Premier League than Arsenal, who have done so on 29 occasions. West Ham are one defeat short of becoming the first club to lose 100 Premier League London derbies.

Arsenal will be without Dani Ceballos, while Rob Holding is a doubt. Arsenal have equalled their lowest points tally (19 points) after 15 matches of a Premier League season (first set in 1994/95). The Gunners travel to Standard Liege on Thursday for their final Europa League group match.

Possible West Ham United XI: Martin; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Fornals, Rice, Noble, Anderson; Antonio, Haller.

Possible Arsenal XI: Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Torreira; Aubameyang, Willock, Ozil; Lacazette.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Arsenal

This week West Ham return to the London Stadium where we take on an Arsenal team reeling from their home defeat to Brighton. We will be hoping for our first home win for months. Ahead of the game I spoke to lifelong Arsenal fan Andy Cross from prison charity St Giles Trust to ask him his thoughts on the recent events at The Emirates and the season.
It’s been a dramatic week down at The Emirates: where do you sit on the sacking of Unai Emery?
Sadly like nearly every other Gooner, I was just waiting for the when rather than if. We were playing so badly I was starting to feel sorry for the guy because I am sure he is a better manager than we were playing. I think he was just out of his depth.

Is it a case of be careful what you wish for regarding the sacking of Arsene Wenger, as you would be pushed to say that Arsenal are better now than they were under Wenger? Were you one of those fans who were baying for Arsene’s head? If so what are your thoughts now?
I wasn’t desperate to see Wenger go but I did feel we were on a downward path in his last season so was happy when he went as it promised a new start. We have a talented squad so its frustrating to see us play so poorly. We showed at the beginning of last season what we can do when it all clicks – it just hasn’t clicked very much at all since then!

Who would you like to see take over? Would you countenance having Pochettino in charge, given that he did manage to drag Spurs above Arsenal in the table after years of your dominance, or would that be too much to bear?
Nope, I have no shame on that front. I think Poch would be good for Arsenal. He may not have won much but he knows how to play well in the Premiership. I don’t have a preference, would be happy to see Arteta given a chance but the people in charge have a poor track record for making good, timely decisions.

One of the major criticisms of Arsene Wenger’s time in charge was that he didn’t strengthen the defence and midfield. Did Emery manage to do this to your approval? Which players that have been purchased in the past season or so to you think will still be there in 2 or 3 years time?

Ironically the best bit of business we did in the summer was obtaining Saliba from St Etienne. He will be a massive boost next season and with Rob Holding there is a future centre half pairing we can be happy with. Add Bellerin and Tierney to the mix and our back four looks pretty good. The problem is none of these have played much and our current centre backs are awful. Our midfield is weak too. Guendouzi will be immense next season but only if he is supported by quality alongside him. Wengers last decent midfield purchase was Cazorla and when he got his horrible injury our midfield was never quite as good again and we have still to find someone who can knit the transition from defence to attack the way he was able to. I think we will lose one or both of Auba and Lacazette in the summer, Ceballos wont hang around and I am praying that Xhaka, Ozil, Luiz, Mustafi will all be sent packing sooner rather than later. The other bright spot in our future is Martinelli, if we can hang onto him he will be a massive player for us in the next 2 seasons.

What would constitute a successful season for you given the start you have had? Where do you realistically think Arsenal will finish the season?
It already feels like a long season! Realistically if we can get into a Europa league spot then I think we can be satisfied we have salvaged something but that is a big if at the moment.

What position will West Ham finish the season?
Wow – there is a question. You could go either way to be honest which means I suspect you will sit neatly in mid-table and be looking for a new manager in the summer J

Who is going to win the League this year? And picks for the other three Champions League places?
Liverpool by a country mile. Followed by Man City. Leicester, Chelsea and Man U. will fight for the remaining 2 places.

Who are your favourites for relegation?
I think Watford and Norwich will struggle to escape the bottom three. My bet for the final place is Bournemouth. When they lose they play stinkers and they don’t have a big squad. I just think their luck might run out this season.

Any particular memories of Arsenal v West Ham games of the past?
One of the sadder moments from my younger days was the 1980 cup final and the joy from the previous years victory over Man U. crushed by defeat at the hands of Trevor Brooking. More recently, it’s the memory of Andy Caroll scoring a hat trick after we had been 2-0 up and we just about snatched a draw. Come to think of it I don’t have any happy memories of this fixture!

How will Arsenal line up against West Ham this weekend? Team/Formation please?
Leno
Bellerin, Luiz, Sokrates, Tierney
Xhaka, Torreira
Ozil
Pepe, Auba, Martinelli

Are you confident that your (and for a short while, our) former player Freddie Ljunberg will garner a postive display form your team? Prediction for score?
Given the way it’s going this evening Jeff let’s say 3-2 to West Ham.

Ha-ha, you probably guessed that he replied to that question during their match on Thursday night. Many thanks to Andy for his time. Regardless of his prediction, I’ll go for a 2 – 0 win: all depending on whether we can score first. COYI

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Parish Notice

Help Me Raise £20,000 to Help the Homeless Please!

Tonight I am sleeping out in Trafalgar Square to raise awareness of homlessness and some much needed money for homeless charities. It’s all in aid of the World’s Big Sleepout.

I’ve set a target of raising £20,000 and am only £1,400 away from it. I am posting this to ask all WHTID readers to make a donation, and sponsor me this evening – regard it as your subscription! It’s a great cause.

I have to say I am full of cold and feel like s**t warmed up, but I can’t pull out now, given so many people have sponsored me. It’ll take two minutes of your time and I’ll be incredibly grateful. It doesn’t matter how small your donation is, every pound counts.

Can I also put on record my thanks to David Sullivan who’s chipped in with £1000, and to all the other Hammers fans who have sponsored me already.

And if you think it’s all a bit much and asking why am I doing it? Well, apparently I get to sleep next to Julie Etchingham…

Click HERE to donate.


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