The GoatyGav Column

Michail Antonio - Nearing Talismanic Status?

You just know when you miss certain players. Something about their play makes such a significant contribution that, when it’s not there, there’s a vital ingredient absent from the mix. That little bit of ‘magic’ that sparks the team. In the case of Michail Antonio I’m of the genuine belief that he’s a player who affects West Ham to that degree.

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In the last three games, where many of us held little hope of West Ham putting any points on the board, Antonio has been an outlet to take pressure off our defence. So often he turns defence in to attack with his driving runs that he has become a target for the ‘out ball’ when needed. Perhaps lacking the finesse of Manu Lanzini Michail is so effective when in possession of the ball, with his pace, power and positivity, it really does, more than, make up for any lack of artistry in his play.

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Down the years we’ve had a few talisman players of note. At the time, and whilst not gaining legendary status in my opinion, Carlos Tevez was a talisman whose late season form made a huge contribution to the team’s Premier League survival. Another in more recent times was Paulo DiCanio. When Paulo was ‘on it’, which was very consistent for a player of that type, he often ‘pulled’ his team-mates up a level or two. I could go further back in time and name many others but the last example of a talisman I’d like to name, to illustrate a point, is that of Scott Parker. There may be something to the argument that Super Scotty stifled other midfielders a little but there’s no denying that his work ethic was second to none. Of course there was more to his game than graft but he lead by example in his time at our club and the effect that had on the other players can’t be underestimated.
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So many have had varying qualities in the club’s history. Michail gives you some of these but one of the reasons his impact on the team is so constructive is that he runs himself ragged for the cause. On the subject of work-rate I feel that Mark Noble’s contribution to our win against Chelsea and Arsenal has gone a little under the radar. Nobes seems to get his fair share of criticism from fans, which he deals with manfully, so when he does play well he deserves all the plaudits. Personally I feel that he’s come through a period of poor form but is now hitting a purple patch – long may it continue.

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Back to Michail Antonio his character is another big contributor to my opinion that he’s becoming a talisman. His goal celebrations suggest he still loves the game. The way he handles himself could be a model for many in terms of PR and, you get the feeling, he’s simply ‘good to have around’ in a team environment. The fact that my nephews went to school with him, the younger of which played at Tooting and Mitcham at the same time as Michail, although not in the same team, the older having been in the same year as him, and speak so highly of him may have contributed to my opinion however I’d like to think I’d have come to the same conclusion without that link.

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Apologies for the short post this week. Mrs Goatygav took a bad fall on the ice on Tuesday and, after 5 hours at Wycombe A&E, is now incapacitated with her arm in a sling meaning I’m running around tying up shoe laces and other tasks she’s unable to undertake. Last night’s performance against Arsenal has gone quite a way to compensating for my expanding to do list. A win against the Stokies this weekend would more than make up for it all.

COYI! West Ham 4 The Cup!

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Stoke v West Ham

Blast from the past

23rd March 1957 – Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister, Tab Hunter was number one with ‘Young Love’ and Tyrone Power was starring in Seven Waves Away. West Ham United met Stoke City at the Victoria Ground for a Second Division encounter on the day Sir Patrick Abercrombie, a town planner best known for the post-World War Two re-planning of London, died.

Ted Fenton’s Hammers were to emerge victorious with a 1-0 victory at the home of the Potters in front of 19,794 with the winning goal coming courtesy of Geordie left-winger Malcolm Musgrove (pictured). Musgrove had scored a double on the same ground almost exactly two years previously. The 23-year-old ended the season with 10 goals from 44 appearances. Inside-left John Dick, absent for this game at Stoke, finished the campaign as the Irons’ top goalscorer with 13 goals in 41 matches.

West Ham would finish the 1956/57 Division Two season in eighth place, while Frank Taylor’s Stoke would end the campaign in fifth position. Leicester and Nottingham Forest would win promotion, Manchester United won the First Division title and Aston Villa won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Ernie Gregory, John Bond, Malcolm Allison, Noel Cantwell, Andy Malcolm, John Smith, Mike Grice, Mick Newman, Billy Dare, Eddie Lewis, Malcolm Musgrove.

Club Connections

Marko Arnautovic returns to the club he left in the summer, while Glen Johnson welcomes the club with whom he started his career. A reasonable number of players have also worn the shirts of both Stoke City and West Ham United. These include:

Goalkeepers: Tony Parks, Steve Banks, Lawrie Leslie, Pat McMahon, Bob Dixon.

Defenders: Clive Clarke, Abdoulaye Faye, Danny Collins, Billy Cope, Matthew Upson.

Midfielders: Luke Chadwick, Matthew Etherington, Paul Allen, Kevin Keen, Victor Moses.

Strikers: Lee Chapman, Jack Farrell, Sir Geoff Hurst, John Carew, Wilf Phillips, Henri Camara, Nicky Morgan.

Lou Macari has also managed both clubs, with two spells in charge of the Potters.

Today’s focus though is on a centre-forward who played top-flight football with Stoke and West Ham – he is also the great-uncle of actor and Hammers fan Ray Winstone. Frank Richardson was born in Barking on the 29th January 1897. He began his career at Barking Town before moving to Plymouth in the Third Division South in 1921. He signed for First Division Stoke in March 1923, scoring once in eight games as the Potters were relegated at the end of the 1922/23 season. He scored twice in six Second Division appearances with Stoke before making a top-flight return with newly-promoted West Ham United.

Richardson (pictured), who had scored three goals in 14 appearances in total for Stoke, joined the Hammers in their first-ever top-flight campaign in October 1923. He made his debut in a 2-0 home win over Chelsea on 27th October 1923 and scored his first goal in claret and blue the following week in a 4-1 win over Birmingham at Upton Park. His second and final goal for the club came in front of 40,000 at Aston Villa, in a 1-1 draw on Christmas Day 1923. His last appearance for the Hammers was in a 1-0 FA Cup second round replay defeat at Leeds on 6th February 1924.

Having scored two goals in 11 appearances for West Ham United, Richardson decided to return to the Third Division South and signed for Swindon. He impressed during his two years at the Robins before signing for Reading, with whom he won the Third Division South title in 1926. His time at Elm Park saw him reach the FA Cup semi-finals. He left Reading in the summer of 1930 to return to Swindon and he had a short spell at Mansfield before retiring in 1931. Frank Richardson passed away at the age of 90 on 19th May 1987.


This Saturday’s referee is 49-year-old Graham Scott. The Oxfordshire-based official will be taking charge of only his second Premier League match involving the Hammers, his other appointment being our 3-1 win at Southampton in February this year.

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Scott was, however, the man in the middle for our 2-1 League Cup victory over Cheltenham in August 2013 and is pictured above sending off Callum McNaughton in the defender’s only Hammers appearance as the club were knocked out of the same competition by Aldershot in August 2011.

Possible line-ups

Stoke, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven games, will be without Bruno Martins Indi, Kurt Zouma, Stephen Ireland and Jese, while former Hammer Glen Johnson is very doubtful. Saido Berahino is yet to score for Stoke since signing in January – his run without a goal stretches back to 27th February 2016, when he scored for West Brom in a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

For West Ham United, Sam Byram, Jose Fonte and Edimilson Fernandes are on the injured list, while Winston Reid is suspended. Cheikhou Kouyate may be fit enough to return. The Hammers are winless in their last eight league meetings against Stoke.

Possible Stoke City XI: Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, Wimmer, Pieters; Shaqiri, Allen, Fletcher, Sobhi; Crouch, Diouf.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Zabaleta, Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Noble, Obiang, Lanzini; Antonio, Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Much Improved West Ham Hold On To Draw Against Toothless Arsenal

The Blind Hammer Column

West Ham 0- Arsenal 0- –The Moyes Revival Continues

Blind Hammer reports on a demonstration of Organisation, Determination, and Grit.

Only 6 weeks ago commentators described West Ham as naïve, unfit and disorganised. We had the worst defence in the league, allowing average, poor sides to find the net against us. Against the mega rich team, including Arsenal we would routinely concede 3, 4 and even 5. Phil Neville described Masuaku as an “accident waiting to happen”. Some of Obonna’s early season performances were calamitous. Cresswell always had a mistake in his locker. Few in defence gave us any confidence.

The transformation is little short of remarkable. Whilst Masuaku did not reach the exciting heights of his display against Chelsea, he was dogged, determined and disciplined. This may have much to do with the fact that Moyes was in his ear all through the second half, telling him to keep tabs on Bellerín, and in particular protect Cresswell from his pace on the wing. In the middle Obonna was transformed from a weakness to a colossus which nullified everything Arsenal could throw at him. He was my personal man of the match. Cresswell has recovered the solidity which made him a contender for the England defence.
Yet Moyes is not resting on his laurels.
He said after the game.
“I want them to be more robust and we’re still a bit easy to play against. We’re trying to improve that and we want to make our football better.
“There’s a lot to improve but the first thing was to stop conceding goals. I’m really enjoying it here.”

If Moyes thinks that West ham are still easy to play against they are definitely harder to play than they were a few weeks ago. In the 270 minutes of the last 3 games, at the London Stadium, West Ham has only conceded 1 goal.
It is 3 months since Arsenal were shut out and failed to score. So, in 2 successive games, West Ham has nullified 2 of the most potent attacks in the league. They also run the most potent team close in a tight game in Manchester.

Whilst Arsenal massively dominated possession they managed only 3 shots on target. Crucially West ham’s defence and midfield had the mental strength to maintain shaped and discipline even when starved of possession. Arsenal may have made a thousand passes in a game but this does not mean that they will create chances or win a game. This is the historic weakness in Wenger’s team strategy. Moyes interpreted what he needed to do for this game in much the same way as he organised against Chelsea.
Actually West Ham, whilst not reaching the heights of the performance against Chelsea could quite feasibly have won the game. Arnautovic superb disallowed header after 15 minutes must have been only fractionally offside at best. We were right in line and my sighted guide was convinced, live, that he was onside. Obviously we did not have the benefit of replays. At the other end Hernandez was denied by the woodwork, only inches away from what would have been a stunning winner. This was an important demonstration of the talents we are likely to need in the next few weeks against Stoke Bournemouth Newcastle and West Brom.

Arsenal was always going to be a tougher challenge than Chelsea. Moyes had all week to prepare against Chelsea, and it showed. He had far less time to prepare the team for Arsenal.
In his Everton days Moyes was famous for his team specific preparation. He drilled his teams in detailed tactics devised for each team.

Different challenges will come in the weeks ahead. However Moyes has the experience to adjust. He will still be learning about his squad and he has already indicated it needs strengthening in January. The road to safety from relegation may still be rocky in a league which is already compressing with all the team who have made managerial changes finding form and recovering. Yet we are in a position few would have predicted a couple of weeks ago. Without the 4 points won against Arsenal and Chelsea we would not only be in the relegation zone, but adrift. We would currently have a sense of doom. Instead we go into some, in theory, winnable fixtures with some unlikely optimism.
David Griffith

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Arsenal

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