Tony Hanna's Musings

Are we learning from our mistakes?

Moyes in or Moyes out? Moysiah or Dinosaur? Well, if we go down he will be gone for sure and in my opinion if we stay up he will be with us for at least another season. Personally, I thought he pulled all the right strings on Sunday with the possible exception of playing Mario instead of Lanzini. But there again I am not privy to just how fit the latter is following his injury lay off. Moyes made all the right substitutions at the right time – again in my opinion. Hart deserved another game as Adrian’s chance will come next weekend anyway, against City. We were never going to take the game to Arsenal. They have a 100% home record against teams outside the top six and even with weakened team selections they put three past Stoke and Southampton in recent weeks. At the 80 minute mark we looked like we were getting a point which in our current predicament would have been gold. Until that mistake from Rice. Hart last week – Rice this week, but players are human and the only thing we can hold onto is that they learn from their mistakes. But do they? Do they really go back on the training ground and work on their own weaknesses, or is it just back to the same stuff they were doing last week. I would really like to know. I am sure the best of the best do, but do our players?

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When I was eighteen I had joined a new football team. The manager soon had me taking all the free kicks and corners. But a few games into the season we were playing a Cup match and we were 3-0 down at half time against Leyton, a team we were expected to beat. We pulled the deficit back to 3-2 and with the last kick of the game we were awarded a penalty. The manager was pointing at me to take the penalty. I had never taken a penalty in senior football before and as I placed the ball on the spot I had no plan other than to blast it as hard as I could. I managed to do that but the ball sailed over the bar. Walking off after that game I felt distraught having let my team mates down. “Don’t worry Tone, it’s Ok” was something I heard several times from my team mates, but I knew deep down it was me that had let the team down. The manager came up to me and said “you better put some practice in lad because you will be taking the next penalty we get”. Good job my best mate was one of the best keepers in the district because I spent hours with him on a routine that included my run up, body shape for deception on delivery and hitting the exact same spot inside the post to the keepers right. I only missed one more penalty in my playing days. So when I see the National team getting beaten in penalty shoots outs and they turn up for the next World Cup and the manager says “no, we don’t practice penalties” I just cringe. These players are far more talented and dedicated than I ever was, but now they are at the top are they practising the right things, ironing out their weaknesses and really working on improving rather than just stagnating or staying comfortable. With some of the things I keep seeing with West Ham I have my doubts.

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My self- indulgent journey back in time to my own playing days was a prelude to Declan Rice’s error against Arsenal and even to Joe Hart’s the week before. When I see a young player making a game changing mistake it often takes me back to how I felt after that penalty miss. Moyes defended Hart for his error against Stoke but put blame on Rice a week later. He knows the players better than us and hopefully his remarks are well judged psychologically. I would like to think that there was a rational reasoning for his different responses. But at training this week will we be practicing crosses coming in at Joe Hart with Rice in front of him? Will their communication be worked upon? Should the keeper be calling “away” or only calling when the ball needs to be left. I could go on but you get the drift. Because for some time our free kick and corner kick routines have been pathetic. There has been almost no creativity in working on new set piece variations to catch out opponents. Bang it into the box but fail to beat the first defender is a common theme. Another area where we are really poor is keeping possession from our own throw ins. I was listening to an ex player the other day, forgive me as I can’t remember who it was, but he was a player who moved from the Championship to the Premier League. He said the first thing that struck him in training was that his PL club didn’t practice throw in routines. “In the Championship we would spend several hours every week just on those” he stated. I bet you we don’t practice ours at West Ham! Monreal scored the first goal for Arsenal from a corner – a set piece. He was Cresswell’s “man” but found three or more yards of space from the moment the corner was taken to the time he shot home. Before the ball went in Masuaku was protecting the near post but seemed to move away from his station to allow Hart more room to make a save – for the first two goals it was all about our defenders not taking responsibility. It really was a comedy of errors but they seem to be occurring every week.

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The other area that leaves a lot to be desired is keeping the ball in the corner from corner kicks or playing the short one. The one in the last minute at Chelsea that went pear shaped was followed by the very next corner West Ham had at home to Stoke where the pass back to the corner taker put him offside. Both were abysmal and totally inept. Surely, if we are going to waste time then put Arnie and Kouyate in the corner, rather than Cullen and Noble. Makes sense doesn’t it – getting around those two big lumps would be rather more difficult! So, back to my first paragraph about Dinosaur or Moysiah? He told us he would get the players fitter, which he probably did but we don’t know for certain. But has he made the players better? Has he got them working on their mistakes and deficiencies or are we just going through the same motions at training every week. Because the manager we need is the one that is doing the former.

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The HamburgHammer Column

Gunned back to earth - and Rice is human after all

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If you wanna blame anyone for the defeat against Arsenal, just blame me. Usually I watch our games live whenever I can – this Sunday though I deliberately opted against that routine and decided to put the lovely weather in Hamburg to good use and take my brother and ten year old nephew out between the dikes on the southeastern outskirts of town to watch Concordia’s U23s wallop the poor local side by a 10:0 scoreline.

The game was more noteworthy for my little nephew entertaining the travelling away support of about 20 people with his comments, questions and jocular remarks, some of them were hilarious without my nephew even realising, but that’s always the joy when taking a kid to a football game.
For instance, the Concordia president was there too in order to watch his own son play, sitting three metres away from us, but that didn’t stop my nephew exclaiming how the U23s were playing so much better this season compared to Cordi’s first team. Well, he was right of course and the club president saw the funny side of it too and couldn’t suppress a grin.

My nephew by the way still is at odds with the rules of the game in terms of the ref awarding a penalty.
Little Daniel still thinks a penalty kick should happen every time a particularly nasty foul or tackle happens, regardless of where on the pitch said foul has been committed.
FIFA better watch out, there’s a new FIFA president in the making here…:-))

Anyway, it’s nice to watch a team that plays football the right way (albeit against inferior opposition) and it’s also nice to have a promotion celebration to look forward to – I reckon next weekend Cordi’s U23s will be mathematically certain to go up. For every other club I hold an interest in it is still squeaky bum time.
Both Hamburg clubs are in relegation dogfights and even our beloved West Ham ain’t quite out of the woods either.

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When returning home I had managed not to hear or read anything about our game, so I could then settle down in my armchair, waving my screwdriver in tune to Bubbles being sung by the travelling Hammers and to be fair, I saw a highly entertaining match from both teams and up to the 80th minute I was fairly certain we could come away from Arsenal with a credible draw. Not so fast my not quite so young Hammer!

That second Arsenal goal broke our collective spirit and determination. Young Declan Rice who was quite superb again up to that point decided to duck out of what looked like the easiest of clearances in front of his own goal, leaving it to Joe Hart to watch the ball trundling into the net.
Lack of communication there and totally unnecessary. When the ball is that close to your own goal you need to deal with it somehow.

You either have set up a routine in training how to act in those situations. Or you make yourself heard loud and clear, so both goalkeeper and defender are on the same page.
It’s frustrating to have lost the game in that fashion (I didn’t even register the goals that still followed) because I think we saw a very decent overall performance from the lads.
Unfortunately a game doesn’t last 79 minutes and when you shoot yourself in the foot like our team did you cannot expect to get away with it in the Premier League.

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I ain’t going to tear into Rice, he is young, still learning the game and boy, will he learn from that blunder! In my eyes he is a future West Ham captain, a player well worth building a team around (if we can keep him that long that is) and the kind of guy fans love rooting for. Rice is the player we must hang on to and keep happy at all costs.
I wonder how Rice’s future is going to pan out.

Moyes though is another safety-first manager for me. Defensive minded, very cautious, averse to taking a bit of a risk. There isn’t much that pains me more than to see our striker isolated upfront time and time again, be that Arnautovic or Carroll. You can see the frustration when they look up, from a promising attacking position, trying to locate their nearest teammate only to find him twenty or thirty metres behind. If it was up to me, I’d look for a more attack-minded, a more positive manager.

With the shortened transfer period this summer our club should be busy building our squad for next season already. Not knowing our league status for sure yet doesn’t help obviously. Not knowing who our manager will be doesn’t help either. I’m sure a decision will be made in due course one way or another and we know the board will have their own priorities which may differ from what the fans, the players or even the pundits may want. So all we can do is wait and hope.

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Not long to go until I’m over again for the Everton fixture. I am confident we won’t necessarily need the points at that stage. But I’d be very happy to see another of my now customary 1:0 home wins. COYI!!!

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David Hautzig's Match Report

Arsenal 4, West Ham 1. Thank Goodness For Ashley Barnes.

Since it’s the only thing anyone wants to or is talking about, I’ll chime in about Wenger. First of all, without meaning to sound disrespectful, I really don’t care that he is leaving. If anything, I took a sick satisfaction from watching a club as massive as Arsenal handle something that monumentaly so poorly. You wonder if somehow David Sullivan, David Gold, and Karen Brady had a hand in it. “Hey, Gunners. We screw up all the time. Just do what we do and all will be pear shaped in no time”.

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At the end of the day, the result was pretty much what we expected.

After a few minutes of West Ham having a bit of possession, the likely tone of the match took over. Arsenal had the ball, attacked West Ham, and won two corners. The second came inches away from an opening goal for Arsenal when a Koscielny header went just wide.

West Ham showed a bit of quality in the 11th minute when Mario threaded a ball into the box that Fernandes just missed running on to. Minutes later Mario played the ball through the legs of Mustafi before sending a low shot that Ospina handled easily. West Ham stayed on the front foot with Arnautovic as the focal point. First Mustafi timed his tackle well to stop West Ham’s main man before he could get a shot off. A minute later a long ball was misplayed by Mustafi and landed well for Arnautovic on the left side of the Arsenal penalty area. He tried to curl a shot into the far corner but Ospina made a good save. Moments later Masuaku won a corner down the left. The delivery came to Kouyate but his header went over the top of the bar.

At that same moment I saw that Stoke took an early lead against Burnley and my stomach started to hurt.

If Fernandes has one weakness that keeps him from being a regular started for the long term, it’s his propensity to make dangerous defensive mistakes. In the 26th minute, he won the ball from Monreal but immediately lost it back and slipped while trying to recover. Monreal attacked down the left and found Welbeck at the top of the box. Welbeck unleashed a low shot that just missed the far corner.

Arsenal had a superb opportunity in the 34th minute when Rice was called for a foul on Welbeck. Xhaka took the free kick and curled it over the wall. Miraculously Hart not only punched it away but he didn’t give the ball directly back to an Arsenal player.

Gratuitous derogatory remark at Hart, check.

A minute later, Bellerin sent a cross from the right side that Welbeck did well to get a head on but he had too much to do to give Hart a difficult time and the ball went over the bar.

West Ham ended the half well with two corners. The first was won through hard work by Arnautovic and Masuaku, the second gifted by Lee Mason. When the team that’s been awarded a corner look stunned by the call, it’s a good bet that the official got it wrong. The visitors did nothing with either set piece, and Ramsay ended the half with a shot from just outside the eighteen yard box that went wide.

Halftime
Arsenal 0
West Ham 0

Arsenal opened the second half with a good chance to take the lead. In the 47th minute Lacazette chipped a cross into the West Ham box. Welbeck appeared to give Zabaleta a little shove in the back as he tried to attack the ball. The ball fell to Monreal, but his right footed shot was stopped easily by Hart. But two minutes later another ball fell to Monreal, this time from a corner, and his left footed effort beat Hart at the near post. In fairness to Hart, Masuaku was covering that post but inexplicably moved away as the shot came in. He should have cleared it off the line. Instead he put out the red carpet for it. Criminally bad play from Masuaku.

Come on Burnley….

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Arsenal 1
West Ham 0

Moyes made the move in the 60th minute that supporters screamed for against Stoke when Lanzini and Chicharito came on to replace Fernandes and Mario. Within seconds Hernandez had a chance when he put a header over the bar off a free kick. Two minutes later, Masuaku sent a cross into the box that Ospina punched out but right to Noble. The ball bounced around the area before Lanzini recovered and sent the ball to Arnautovic on the left side of the box and this time he buried it.

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Arsenal 1
West Ham 1

Hmmmmm. A goal scorer comes on and creates a chance. Then a minute later we score a goal. Pretty cool, huh?

Arsenal came millimeters away from taking the lead in the 72nd minute when Xhaka tried a long range effort that Hart got him fingertips on to send it around the bar. He did it again in the 79th when Welbeck tried a curling shot from outside the box and again, Hart used those final digits to send the ball wide.

I don’t know what Rice was thinking in the 83rd minute when Ramsay sent a floating corner into the box. He should have calmly headed it away. He could have, too. And for reasons only he knows, he ducked under the ball and it lazily rolled into the back of the net. A reminder, perhaps, that he is still a kid. Kids make mistakes. This kid, I’m reasonably sure, won’t look back at it after he goes to bed tonight.

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Arsenal 2
West Ham 1

Three minutes later, over 100 million pounds worth of strikers combined to give Arsenal a two goal lead when Aubameyan passed to Lacazette in the box and the French striker who was one David Sullivan bit of fiction from being a West Ham player buried it.

Arsenal 3
West Ham 1

Annnnndddd, he did it again a few minutes later. Details irrelevant.

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Final Score
Arsenal 4
West Ham 1

The question I would ponder, if I ponder at all, would be this. Had Rice not made that mistake, would West Ham have held on for a point? Truth be told, I doubt it. Maybe that’s just me rationalizing. West Ham’s defense fell apart after that second goal, and while I doubt it would have collapsed to the degree it did my internal West Ham meter still reads loss. Thankfully Burnley scores an equalizer and that game ended in a draw. So as it stands we are six points above the drop. It should be enough, especially if we can pick up one more point somewhere, to keep us in the Premier League.

Then we can go through this nonsense all over again next season.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Arsenal v West Ham

Arsenal v West Ham
FA Premier League
The Emirates
KO 1.30pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 Live

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

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Arsenal v West Ham

Blast from the past

2nd November 1991 – U2 were number one with ‘The Fly’, Homicide was in UK cinemas and, three days later, Robert Maxwell was found dead at the age of 68. Meanwhile, Billy Bonds’ West Ham United were sealing a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in front of 33,539 at Highbury.

George Graham’s First Division champions, including future Hammers Ian Wright and Nigel Winterburn, put their newly-promoted visitors under pressure in the first half but the Hammers started to have breakaway moments in the second period, in a match which was Michael Thomas’ last in the Gunners’ midfield before his switch to Liverpool. Anders Limpar saw a dipping volley from the edge of the penalty area tipped over by ‘Ludo’ Miklosko after the interval while Mike Small’s stinging effort from Kevin Keen’s pass was touched over by David Seaman at the other end. 29-year-old Small, a £400,000 summer signing from Brighton, went into this game having scored 12 goals in his first 18 matches as a Hammer.

As the game started to open up, the Irons went in front through their in-form striker Small (pictured). Fellow summer recruit, left-back Mitchell Thomas, emerged with the ball from a scramble on the edge of the Hammers’ box and carried forward beyond halfway before finding marauding right-back Tim Breacker. He played a one-two with captain Ian Bishop and passed inside to Small on the edge of the Gunners’ penalty area. Small turned away from his markers before firing a blistering left-foot drive beyond the dive of Seaman and into the Clock End net in front of the visiting Claret and Blue Army.

Arsenal pressed for an equaliser in the final ten minutes but the Hammers still had their moments on the counter attack with the pace of Stuart Slater a constant threat. Slater broke down the right late on and found Keen with a great chance to double the lead but his effort could only bobble wide. The action from this game, including Small’s winner and an interview with West Ham centre-half Tony Gale, can be viewed in my video below.

The Gunners would finish fourth in 1991/92, while the Hammers would end the campaign bottom and relegated. Leeds won the league and Liverpool won the FA Cup. Small would end the campaign as the Hammers’ top scorer with 18 goals from 51 matches. Julian Dicks, who didn’t return from a serious knee injury until December, was voted Hammer of the Year, with Steve Potts runner-up.

Arsenal: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Colin Pates, Andy Linighan, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Merson, Michael Thomas (Perry Groves), David Rocastle, Anders Limpar, Ian Wright, Alan Smith.

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Tony Gale, Mitchell Thomas, Kevin Keen, George Parris, Ian Bishop, Stuart Slater, Mike Small, Frank McAvennie.

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for West Ham United and Arsenal. Carl Jenkinson is currently on loan at Birmingham from the Gunners having spent two of the previous three seasons on loan at the Hammers. Other players to have represented both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: Richard Wright, Manuel Almunia, Jim Standen.

Defenders: Matthew Upson, Nigel Winterburn, Steve Walford, Bob Stevenson.

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

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, 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 a former goalkeeper for both the Gunners and the Hammers. Charles James Ambler was born on the 13th August 1868 in Alverstoke, Hampshire and began his career at Bostall Rovers before signing for Royal Arsenal in 1891, shortly before they turned professional and were renamed Woolwich Arsenal. As an amateur, he also turned out for Clapton, Dartford and Luton.

After struggling to make it with the Gunners, Ambler became part of a select club to swap Arsenal for Tottenham in the summer of 1894 but he returned to Woolwich Arsenal in November 1895. He made his only league appearance for Arsenal in a 5-1 Second Division defeat to Newton Heath (the club who went on to be Manchester United) on 30th November 1895. He again left Arsenal for Tottenham in the summer of 1896, remaining with Spurs for four years before joining Gravesend United in 1900. He was shortly on the move again, this time to New Brompton (the club now known as Gillingham) before signing for West Ham United in 1901.

Ambler (pictured) was reserve team goalkeeper with the Hammers but won a place in the limelight almost by default when an administrative mistake meant the Irons were to host Tottenham in a Southern League match at the Memorial Grounds on the same day as welcoming Leyton for an FA Cup third qualifying match. With the prospect of larger gate receipts from the league game, West Ham ceded home advantage in the Cup and sent the reserves to Leyton – the league was taking priority over the cup even back at the start of the 20th century! 33-year-old Ambler kept a clean sheet in the match at Leyton on his competitive West Ham debut in a 1-0 win on 2nd November 1901 while the first team lost to Spurs by the same scoreline at the Memorial Grounds in the league.

As a consequence, the West Ham management decided to rest regular custodian Hughie Monteith for the next league match, with Ambler making his only Southern League appearance for the Hammers the following week against QPR, on 9th November 1901. The Irons lost 2-1 at Rangers’ Latimer Road home in North Kensington – incidentally, the West Ham side had to change in the Latimer Arms pub and run down the road to the pitch! It was to prove to be Ambler’s second and last competitive appearance for West Ham United. Monteith was back in goal the following week when the first team were dumped out of the FA Cup at home by Essex village side Grays.

Ambler joined Millwall at the end of the 1901/02 season, his only campaign with the Hammers. In later life he changed his name to Charles James Toby – Charles Ambler passed away in 1952 at the age of either 83 or 84.

Referee

Sunday’s referee will be Lee Mason from Greater Manchester. Mason’s three games officiating the Hammers this season have all ended in defeat. Most recently, he took charge of our 3-0 home defeat to Burnley last month, while the other two matches were both 3-2 defeats: at Southampton in August when he failed to send off Dusan Tadic but did give Marko Arnautovic a red card, before awarding the Saints a match-winning penalty in added time; and against Newcastle at home in December when he awarded the Hammers a penalty only for Andre Ayew’s effort to be saved. Mason refereed the Hammers once in 2016/17 – the 1-0 home win over Hull when he awarded the Hammers a match-winning penalty – but took charge of two West Ham matches the previous season, those being the 0-0 draw at Swansea in December 2015 and the 3-0 win at West Brom in April 2016.

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He refereed three Premier League matches involving the Hammers in 2014/15 – the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, the 1-0 home win over Sunderland and the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford when he sent off Wayne Rooney, denied the Hammers a penalty when Morgan Amalfitano’s cross struck Radamel Falcao’s arm and disallowed Kevin Nolan’s last-minute strike for a marginal offside. Mason was also the man in the middle for our 1-0 FA Cup win at Bristol City in January 2015. He also officiated in four of our games in 2013/14, sending off two of our players (Mark Noble against Everton and James Tomkins at Cardiff) and disallowing a perfectly good Stewart Downing equaliser at Crystal Palace. He also sent off Mark Noble at Birmingham in December 2009.

Possible line-ups

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who announced yesterday that he will step down in the summer after 22 years as Gunners boss, will be without the injured Santi Cazorla and Henrikh Mkhitaryan while Jack Wilshere faces a late fitness test. Aaron Ramsey is available after a shin injury. Wenger may make changes with Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg at home against Atletico Madrid in mind – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied for that match so is likely to face the Hammers instead, having scored six goals in his opening eight Premier League games for Arsenal.

West Ham United are without Sam Byram, Winston Reid, James Collins, Pedro Obiang and Michail Antonio. Italian centre-half Angelo Ogbonna faces a late fitness test on a knee injury. The Hammers have scored in each of their last nine away league games, their joint-longest run in a single Premier League season since 1999/00. David Moyes has never won a match in league or cup away to Arsenal, either at Highbury or The Emirates. West Ham’s tally of five Premier League victories at Arsenal is bettered only by Manchester United (eight) and Liverpool (seven).

Possible Arsenal XI: Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Elneny; Iwobi, Willock, Aubameyang; Lacazette.

Possible West Ham United XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Kouyate, Noble, Mario; Lanzini, Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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