Nigel Kahn’s Column

Entertainment versus Result

*The Predictor League for Stockport is open. Enter your team HERE. Deadline is Monday at 6pm."

The crowds at West Ham haven’t been rewarded by results, but they keep turning up because of the good football they see. Other clubs will suffer from the old bugbear that result’s count more than anything. This has been the ruination of English soccer

Ron Greenwood’s quote is possibly the nearest definition you will see to explain the mystery of The West Ham Way, though for me what you think is the W.H.W is actually personal to you. It Is what you think it is. Ron’s quote is my mantra though for this.

Why do we watch football? What is it you want to see? Is it just to see your team win or is it to be entertained? Do you hope that in being entertained by your team they will win?
If your team plays well but loses how do you take it? What if the game you watch is frankly as dull as ditchwater do you celebrate the victory as if it was a fantastic achievement or do you shrug your shoulders and say, thank Christ we won that but god it bored me.

Is the result all that matters?

Sometimes you get asked why you go football. My answer is always "To be entertained and then to see my team win that game. I’d rather watch a 4-3 defeat than ground out 1-0 win that was won with a lucky goal. I will naturally welcome that lucky win but I won’t go overboard and celebrate it and when asked I will say what I thought of the game. This is exactly how I felt after our latest victory away at Everton and in one of the many WhatsApp groups I seem to be in I said the same thing.

“Who cares. We won.” was the reply.

That is a good question actually, because who does care if it is a dull game as long as we win? Do you?

I’m genuinely interested in your reply to this question, as I’d like to see if I am alone in wanting to be entertained watching football. So leave your thoughts in the comment section, (keep it short though JC JR). I have attached a screenshot of the conversation and I have removed the names to protect the innocent, oh, and the swear words but you can get the drift.

My reaction is not a criticism of the manager, nor his tactics, but just generally I found the game to dull, lacked any major attacking chances as both defences seem to have the better of the opposition attackers. Our goal was fortunate in the way it was contrived. The deflection could have gone anywhere, it was just lucky for us it fell to Soucek.

I stand by my answer in the text if for you the end result is all that counts. Save your money, don’t bother watching the game, just tune in to final score and the BBC will tell you the result, you can even text me if you have my number, though the reply won’t be blacked out in all the right areas.

Yesterday I received a text that shook me, and frankly thinking about football at this moment while is a great distraction, seeing what my great friend & his family are going through right now makes this even seem trivial.

I received another message from a podcast listener who I have a lot of time for, a young lad who told me his mate, a fellow from the Town you could say had passed. I didn’t know his friend, John, but I know he was well thought of by his friends. He was a regular at West Ham and I’d like to offer my condolences to his friends and family.

When we get back to football, whenever that be, it may be that when we look round we notice seats empty that were always full.

I hope the club remember those we have lost along the way in a fitting way.

Lastly, get well soon to my mate Doddsy and his wife who it seems have been struck down with Covid. “Be strong my handsome.”


The Jimmy Cooney Column

"Just Say No To Arnie!" (or, "My First Real Disagreement With "The Moysiah")

Greetings;

I first need to address the rumor about Marko “Scissorhands” Arnautovic, coming back, or if you prefer “Freddy Kruger” Arnautovic? …… this isn’t a joking matter….. silly season or not…. “Et Tu, Moysie?” (Best I could do)…. :))

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I’m not even gonna accept “pragmatism”, as an excuse to consider bringing back that poisonous snake into the boot room of one of the most unified teams this club has seen in the PL era, with perhaps 3 exceptions that I could maybe think of…… sure, he scored goals for us….. when he could be bothered, or not banned for elbowing the WRONG player in retaliation for an elbowing incident. Then, he comes back, wins most of us over, however, my goodness, the issues he created where there were none made a bunch of rich kids who spread falsehoods for kicks look like a bunch of adults.

Before I go too far, and become more misunderstood than I already am, ;)) folks….. this is part a comedy, part cautionary message for us to let him (Arnie) stay in China, please? (This, I am serious about). I am finally at odds with David Moyes about something, however, taking out how I feel as a supporter, and if I truly trust in Moyes, I should give it a chance, because, I could always be wrong, however, in this particular situation, I just don’t think he brings the right mindset, he’s been out of the PL for 2 years, and, as far as loyalty, of course, I know it’s not 1975 anymore, but the man is shady, to say the least.

When one pairs this with the fact that we have needed multiple strikers since Jesus was caught cuttin’ school with Pontius Pilate (look for the clever motif, you literary, and punctuation critics…..) ;)) we need a striker/s who can stay fit from Nov-March. (I Love Antonio, but his hamstrings are gonna just get worse as he ages, it seems like once November hits, it’s a matter of time before he needs some rest, and Arnie would be perfect, if he wasn’t such a disruption.

I guess I wish we would just look younger, and it’s stuff like this that gets folks all worked up, and, in unnecessary arguments with their fellow brothers and sisters in Iron, because, no doubt, some would probably take him back, especially those with more Machiavellian tendencies thinking that the “ends would justify the means…..” well the “end” in this case would be the annihilation of the harmony and morale amongst the current troops who ALL are trying to do their best for the gaffer and the Crest.

I wish I could verify that it’s “hard to believe”, even after the “knifing” that Arnie gave everyone who gives a hang about West Ham United, that folks would take him back. I’d rather roll the dice with another Championship top scorer, try to teach Holland how to be a CF, or for the short term, hang in there with Haller, at least Haller is a stand up fella, and, he may, just MAY be better in the Cup ties, (which, if we get as far as the quarters or semis and he’s a factor, he’s worth more in the summer, no? Add all this that with the fact that goals do come from all over the pitch, especially from Soucek) there’s no need for such extremism!! :-)

Seriously, folks, throwing him into this tight knit squad would only pull it loose, however, where I’m most surprised, and only is even giving it a chance, is Moyes, cos so far, he’s done right by the club. The difference, is Marko did not.

You see, I could care less where Arnie is, I tend to write off those who stab me in the back, sometimes in disturbing ways…. and, I do loathe the waste of skin. A pure sociopath whose competition for a signature that summer I believe was either Traore, or maybe Bats???

(Daz, you know everything about everything……. who could we have bought who’d have brought as much production as Arnautovic, yet may still be here due to better character?….. I’m sure you have an opinion???) ;)) Seriously, who or where else could we have spent the Marko cash, and done just as well, if not better, without his psycho drama. (I’m a prat, Nigel?) ;))

Now, with the hope that another full time shutdown can be averted, Moyes comes to his senses, and the more I edit, the more I realize I should let you go on about who the best 20 we should take back up to, yes Greater Manchester!!! (it’s been either there or Yorkshire lately) to take on Stockport.

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I’d like to think that with enough rest, and enough players showing promise as good starters, and good super subs, we can field a solid squad to take, with the perfect mix of vets, soldiers and youth…. AND, come back to see out the rest of the first half of the campaign with 6 pts outta 2 from Burnley and Brom?!?! I mean, I know about the banana peels, and, I try to NEVER underestimate ANYONE, however, this year, based on all there’s overall team performances? I’d would HOPE for 3 wins on the trot in the league and 6 unbeaten in all comps between our come from behind point against B&HA (they linger like a rotten “Ruby Murray” fart, don’t they?) :)) , A solid nights work on the clean sheet, score-draw from St Mary’s, a very nice win at Goodison, and so on……

(However, this is the top flight, I’d not be surprised with only 2, 3, or 4 pts, especially if any sort of crazy talk is let loose upon the club.)

Look at the official site, which, of course, isn’t the true thermometer, all the time, but how could we be anything but relatively happy right now? Everyone is talking positive, things could always be better, however, It’s not desperate enough to consider Arnie!

Plus, I’m am nervous about sacrificing a very potentially great player in Diop to make the wage, and, with the now “hard to argue” fact that if Haller, is not going to work, why stay? However, what could we get for him now? Then, there is the whole Benny issues, And, still….. the rumors of Arnautovic…….. send chills…….

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I mean, we can’t always see the knife attack coming, but this would be like inviting a demon into your house, after he home invaded you, did the whole “9” and, “well, he said he wouldn’t pillage and murder my family in front of me, while stealing our souls to be his slaves for eternity, why not?!?!?!”

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Where I am of the general consensus that it’s just not working for Seb at West Ham United, giving him the “bums rush” in order to hustle Arnie back would ruin all of the hard work these lads, the gaffer, and the coach staff have toiled so hard for, and would do much less damage than leaving things as is.

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So, over to some smiles here, I was OVER THE MOON!!!!! with our win over Everton at Goodison! I’d also like to catch up a bit here, I was thrilled to see Dawud’s photos back on display, David’s always great review, Hamburg, (my favorite columnist, tbh, honestly) And Gav, agree 100% about Manu and Yarmo hopefully accepting the super sub role, (everyone can play an important role). Everybody “done good” ;))

So, once again, I beg pardon for not checking in with the good folks of WHTID in a few…. I’ve been busy trying to make some kind of living, (no need to take an hour to read my problems today, but my God….. I suggest we chill with the 2020 jokes until we see how ’21 shakes out…..believe me…. it can always get worse….),

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bJuDD93JbOw

Anyways….. enough of my “sub par writing”, ;)) There’s plenty to talk about with a huge cup tie upcoming, and who we could REALLY bring in as a CF without destroying the morale, cohesion, and losing a potentially world class CB to fix a problem that could be better addressed in the summer?

I’d like to see who you perceive to be best choice for Stockport. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few photos reminding those what good unity there is in the club right now.

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Love You All!!

COYI!!!!

Jimmy


The GoatyGav Column

Writing Players Off

Happy New Year WHTIDers. May 2021 bring you health, wealth and happiness and an end to the pandemic.

It was business as usual in the Thurston household with Turkey, Games, Mince Pies and the odd glass or three. The oldest turned eighteen over the holidays as well so we tried our utmost to make his day special despite the lockdown restrictions. Over eleven minutes of video messages from friends and family were edited alongside over two hundred photos, some of which were cheesy bordering on the embarrassing, which started his day on a particularly bright note. If any of you have special numbered birthdays of loved ones coming up I can recommend putting this together and playing through your biggest screen in the house to kick their day off. I used Shotcut, which can be downloaded for free, to stitch and transition the clips together before adding music. The time and effort was well worth it to see the look on the lad’s face.

It seems that, in years gone by, our beloved club has had a knack for signing aged journeymen with long injury histories. While that’s improved in more recent times some of our most talented players have, unfortunately, collected serious injuries while at the club. The focus of today’s piece is mainly around one of those squad members…Manuel Lanzini.

I’ve written a similar article to this over the last year which sparked a, should he stay or go, debate. Since that time Sebastien Haller has had a good crack at the whip to prove he can cut it, with us, in the Prem. For me he’s now come to the point where, I believe, the club should recognise that he’s not suited to top level English football and should cut their losses. I wanted Seb to do well and genuinely believed that, when he signed at the start of last season, we’d finally got our twenty goal a season man. He reminded me of Dean Ashton in much of his style of play and footballing ability but seems to be completely lacking in the strength needed to hold Premier League defenders off. Many, including me, expected Kevin Nolan to be able to bring the, on pitch, bully out of him but, sadly, there’s absolutely no sign that this is happening. Despite the squad seeming to like him, and my desire to see him succeed despite many family and friends becoming exasperated with him, I genuinely believe it would be best for all parties concerned if he now moved on.

Back to Manu there is a growing split in the fanbase between those who believe his best days are behind him, and that he should move on to pastures new, and those who think he has great value to the club and can still make a big contribution. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I sit in the latter category. I guess some of this might depend upon what you see when he plays. Do you look at how he changed the game after coming on at Crystal Palace and against the Spuds or do you see the player who struggled to get in to the game when he started against Southampton. Perhaps, in the short term, there’s something to be said for him operating from the bench. His impact on matches when coming on as a substitute appear to leave his starting line-up appearances in the shadows.

Going back to the season ’17-’18 Manu was on fire. Every aspect of his game from his creativity to his graft, tracking down and tackling, which is often an underrated aspect of his play, was on point. He seemed to emerge from the shadow of Dimitri Payet, who he played well alongside but was somewhat put in the shade by, as our best attacking player by some distance. His tremendous performances earned him his, long sought after, call up to the Argentinian World Cup squad. After playing well in the warm ups for that competition the ACL injury happened in training with La Albiceleste. An injury as serious in nature as that used to finish careers but Manu worked hard to return to the profession that he, so obviously, loves.

Given time Manu can continue his recovery back to being one of the top performing players in our squad. He may never be the same as he was just before the injury but I, for one, believe that he’s more than worthy of our patience and will repay us by the truckload. Even if he does play as an impact sub, until he’s fully confident and flying again, I think it would be a serious mistake to let him go and I hope to be singing “Ain’t nobody like Lanzini,” from the stands again next season. Conversely I was extremely disappointed to see Manu pictured at a party over the Christmas period. It really irks me that football players seem to think that the rules don’t apply to them and they can do whatever they want. Overall I don’t think that the game is doing enough to come down on offenders and I’d like to see more serious repercussions for them. We have to abide by the rules, and have made sacrifices for the greater good, so why not them. Frankly another thing that puts me off the game at the top level.

No report on the Women’s matches this week due to the lack of matches. Let’s hope their successes continue after the confident four-nil defeat of Bristol City…although with Manchester City up next that’s no easy task.

Next up for the Premier League two team is a trip to Chelsea. If the lads can continue to play well then I’m sure the results will start to come. Last time out at Everton the U23s played very well and were unlucky to come away empty handed so best of luck to them on the fifteenth of Jan.

Have a good, or at least the best possible, week all.

Cheers

Gav

COYI!


The HamburgHammer Column

Dawson's Cheek and Soucek's good fortune: Hammers start 2021 with away win

Happy New Year to all readers, authors, contributors and lurkers on WHTID! May 2021 be a better, more sociable, more enjoyable year for all of us. I wish everybody on here health, peace of mind and valuable time with loved ones in abundance.

I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s Eve was not really much to write home about, nevermind write about it on a football blog. I will do so anyway…;-)

Lockdown meant I was “celebrating“ alone in my flat. Eating a very modest meal (smoked fish, oven baguettes), alone. Having a midnight drink and the customary HNY donut, on the Jack. Watching a few isolated and grossly illegal fireworks (Covid restrictions!) explode with bright colours across a clear East Hamburg sky from my balcony, you guessed it, on my own.
And, just like that, 2021 had arrived. A new year. Starting with a matchday as well, Everton away. Tough fixture.

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Yet we somehow nicked this from The Toffees on their own manor. Not quite sure how we did it, but we got all three points against a very strong Everton team who looked decidedly average though when faced with our newly discovered super-solid defensive formation and shape, marshalled by the two experienced heads of Ogbonna and Dawson.

It didn’t even matter much that Fabianski wasn’t available in goal after feeling something in his thigh during the warm up before the game. Randolph stepped in and hardly had anything to do for 93 minutes.
I remember only one proper save he had to make.

And he did so without much fuss. So, even if Fabianski was to miss three or four weeks, which doesn’t seem to be the case now as our favourite Pole will apparently resume training this week, there is no longer a Roberto Mk II scenario looming large at West Ham.

First of all because Randolph is a better goalkeeper than Roberto to begin with. But that’s not even the key point.

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We look decent at the back now, almost regardless of who our defenders actually are which will make life a lot easier for any goalkeeper, be he Darren Randolph or David Martin.

And let us briefly look at Craig Dawson and his contributions so far. Not the most elegant or naturally gifted player you’ll ever see gracing the pitches of the Premier League. He arrived against the backdrop of a plethora of shaking heads within our collective fanbase, being seen as a cheap and, frankly, useless loan signing, a panic addition in the transfer window to merely make up the numbers in a very depleted squad.

And yet, after a mere two games, we have already seen him click with the likes of Angelo Ogbonna and Vlad Coufal. Two tough away fixtures, two clean sheets, four points. Can’t ask much more from a centre back.

Dawson’s highlight reels will never feature tons of killer crosses, backheel passes or body swerves sending his opponent for a hot dog.
That’s not his job.

He is a no-nonsense tackler, an honest grafter straight from the “Ginger Pele School of Defending and Clearing Balls out of Danger“.

I can see why he’s a Moyes type of player and I reckon Dawson will help us to keep more clean sheets this season and maintain a positive goal difference. And according to Moyes Dawson has impressed in training sessions as well, showing great application and character while waiting for his chance to play.

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I have no idea what had happened to Dawson when he was on the floor for 2-3 minutes in the first half against Everton, not moving at all as if struck by lightning. But he continued playing after that little break and carried on like that incident had never happened at all. Weird!
Maybe it was the excitement of playing football again, not just that, but starting two games in quick succession! It’s possible his system couldn’t quite handle that…luckily it was nothing a short breather and maybe a
clandestine chunk of granola bar couldn’t fix.

Dawson looks like an extremely experienced, cheeky customer. He’s been around a lot of football pitches and must have seen it all. Now he has also seen Randolph keeping a first PL clean sheet for West Ham since April 2017 and Soucek chipping in with yet another crucial goal.
Who needs 20-goal-a-season strikers when you have a Czech scoring machine operating from midfield ?

Once again our substitutes made vital offensive contributions after coming on, with especially Yarmolenko having a hand, or rather foot, in the creation of the winning goal. Then again, he also gave the ball away cheaply prior to that, with a ridiculous backheel attempt of a pass the like of which you may try when you’re 3:0 up, but not with the score evenly balanced at 0:0.
Yarmolenko could have lost us a crucial away point, he ended up helping us to win all three.

It was brilliant to see Soucek running into the box full of desire and determination and hence benefitting from a healthy slice of luck, with the ball falling pretty much into his lap after a hellbraun deflection off an Everton player.

Sous Chef really made his own luck in that situation and it was nice to see him being rewarded in this fashion.

Soucek’s post-match interview was fantastic too as he was talking about previous winter breaks as a footballer in the Czech Republic where it’s apparently tradition around this time of year to stuff your face with copious amounts of potato salad. (In Germany you tend to add a boiled Knackwurst/sausage to that.)

Which prompted some fans to immediately put up recipes for Czech-style potato salad all over social media. I fully expect a video on the West Ham OS soon with Soucek and Coufal preparing and enjoying a big, claret bowl of the stuff while sharing jokes and anecdotes about their careers at West Ham so far…

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My quick customary paragraph on Seb Haller: This was not a good game from him, effort was decent, but like it was our tendency in the first half, he wasted a good scoring opportunity, making things too complicated when it was probably easier to just go with instinct and take a shot. He really wasn’t effective as a striker in this one. The ball unfortunately is just not bouncing right for him at West Ham. He can’t be happy with the way things are going for him. I don’t see a way anymore for Haller to become a success for the Hammers. With the price tag of 45m quid attached to him
he always had a mountain to climb.

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Congratulations anyway, Seb Haller, on winning MOTD Goal of the Month December for your stunning overhead kick against Palace!

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When Moyes brought Antonio on for Haller this to me very much proved that our gaffer hasn’t really got the intention to play Antonio and Haller together. Which in my view he absolutely should. At least against sides like Burnley or West Brom.

I think it would be an extremely fruitful combination, that. But if Moyes is unwilling to give that one a try, well, then we might as well move Haller on this month, no matter how much money we’re losing in the process. It’s not fair on the player and probably better for West Ham as well in the grand scheme of things. Let’s see if we can bring in another striker more suited to the way we roll and how he is going to fare when called upon.

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The Everton win has been a brilliant start for West Ham in 2021, not just because of the three points as such, but it came against one of the better sides in the PL this season. We are not always beautiful to watch, but we’re hard to beat. At last!

Looking at our upcoming fixtures and bearing in mind there is a bit of a break now (with the cup game against Stockport coming up first next Monday), we should be in a position to approach our next few games with renewed confidence and swagger. Plus a hopefully full squad to pick from with the exception of the recuperating Masuaku who may need another four weeks or so before being available for selection again.

As I am not expecting a lot of activity in terms of January transfers for West Ham this time around since we are in no danger of relegation, I would rather be focussing on West Ham trying to find a formation in training that is going to help us score more goals in the actual matches.

Coupled with our solidity at the back this would allow us to really set up base camp in the top half of the table for the remainder of the season.
Not a bad way for the year 2021 to endear itself to Hammers fans everywhere! COYI!!!

PS. Who of you was the kind soul who years ago sent me the matchday programme of the first West Ham game I attended ? (Man City at home in March 1996)
I know he mentioned the fact casually in a comment on the blog last month or so but I don’t remember in which thread or if it even was on one of my articles or that of a fellow author. I really must make a mental note to buy that guy dinner when we meet in person, be that in London or during a visit to Hamburg…

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Hamburg football update: Believe it or not, the Bundesliga 2 has also been in action on the first weekend of 2021. Hamburg SV had a fairly easy task (at least on paper) playing Jahn Regensburg at home.
It was not as much a walk in the park as the 3:1 scoreline might suggest, but after their fourth win in a row HSV have retaken top spot in the table from fellow Northerners Holstein Kiel.

St.Pauli however had to try to turn their fortunes around by playing away at promotion-chasing Greuther Fürth (who have apparently managed to attract a few WHTID readers as new supporters in recent weeks due to their name). As expected it turned out to be a losing battle for the “Boys in Brown“ as Fürth won 2:1.

St.Pauli are still in 19th place, with dark clouds of relegation fear forming over the Reeperbahn. While Fürth in 3rd place are now breathing down hard on HSV’s neck…


Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

From the Vaults West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion 1st February 2020

West Ham had let a 2 goal lead slip into a draw dragging them into the relegation zone with Manchester City and Liverpool to look forward to in the coming games ahead. Since returning to the managers post in December, Moyes had not been able to lift the teams form with only 1 league win in 6 and being dumped out of the FA Cup by then Championship side West Brom.

Issa Diop and Robert Snodgrass – who provided and then delivered – gave the Hammers a two goal lead just before half time. Diop headed in from a Snodgrass free kick, who then doubled the lead with a powerful strike from inside the area. It seems that the players had managed to turn their poor form around and the crowd were bouyant going in to the break.

Then came the second half, with alarm bells ringing as Fabianski punched Gross’s corner at Ogbonna who managed to head the ball into his own net. Snodgrass capped his man of the match performance with a second goal that left Brighton struggling for answers leading up to the final quarter hour of the match. But Brighton did not give up.

Shocking defending left Moyes angry that the team were unable to see out the win to continue a trend where the Hammers have yet to beat Brighton the the Premier League with the most recent victory in April 2012 when both team were in the Championship.

Substitute Arthus Masuaku’s poor pass infield was intercepted by Leandro Trossard sending the ball towards the box. Diop and Ogbonna hesitated under little pressure and as Ogbonna tried to head the ball back towards the keeper Fabianski, Pascal Gross nipped the ball into the net.

Fabianksi was arguably at fault for Brighton’s third and even Ryan Fredericks should have prevented the Davy Propper’s cross from being delivered to Glenn Murray, who scored to the exasperation of Moyes and the home crowd. After a lengthy VAR review the goal stood, reversing Michael Oliver’s origins decision to disallow the goal for hand ball.

Moyes said “I’m more disappointed at what my defender did; VAR should never have been close to being involved with it.”

It could be argued that both teams could not continue to survive the drop playing like this, with Brighton soft under pressure and West Ham making such defensive mistakes and not being able to see out the match to secure all three points.

“I’m angry and the players know I’m disappointed,” Moyes said.
“In the main we were very good but for a couple of really silly mistakes. We offered a threat, as did they. The performance was good but it’s tarnished by a couple of mistakes.”

After this match West Ham sat 18th in the table on 24 points, with Villa in 17th on 25 points and Bournemouth 16th on 26 points. Brighton remained in 15th on goal difference on 26 points.

Wishing everyone all the very best and a safe New Year.


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