Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Arsenal

West Ham v Arsenal
FA Premier League
KO 5.30pm
TV: BT Sport
Radio: talkSport

Arsenal Starting XI

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


Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: West Ham v Arsenal

Subs: Adrian, Collins, Masuaku, Carroll, Feghouli, Zaza, Nordtveit

Some tricky selection decisions for Slaven Bilic today. Hints are being dropped that Andy Carroll may start. I think that Ashley Fletcher ought to retain his starting place. He’s been the one bright spark in our season so far and his goal on Wednesday will have given him tremendous confidence coming into this game. To be dropped to the bench would not only be grossly unfair but also threaten that confidence. OK, Carroll scored a hattrick against Arsenal last year, but let’s bring him on in the second half if we need to.

In midfield we are without Cresswell and Antonio. Fernandes or Masuaku will play on the left, with either Ayew or Feghouli coming in on the right. There are rumours of a training ground bustup between Bilic and Ayew over his fitness, so there’s a questionmark over whether he will feature.

I can’t come to the game today, which I’ve very annoyed about! I agreed to speak at a dinner in Hertfordshire tonight thinking I’d have plenty of time to get there after the game finishes. Then they moved it to 5.30. Typical.

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Please check back after the match for the results.


Guest Post

Do we expect too Much this year?

Guest post by Steve Kreeger

We’ve all been there as England fans, constant expectation that every game we’ll perform, every minute of the 90 we’ll have flashes of brilliance and excitement and stories to talk about the next day at work.

As a (sometimes) happy Hammer, the day of a big game clash brings the same hype feeling for me, whether at the game live, or clearing the fridge of beer (ale actually, definitely ale) to sit in front of Sky Sports for the afternoon/evening, anticipating and expecting.

But I wonder if after last year – do we expect too much?

Big new stadium, lots of summer signings, new club crest, excitement built over months and months…

Yes we’ve got injuries. Yes we’ve not had a great run in the league and can’t seem to score despite chances galore from Payet (who incidentally has the 2nd highest number of chances created in the whole of 2016, second to Ozil), but still we expect, still we all have hope and build hype that we’ll get something from the game on Wednesday night – it was after all a cup quarter final.

But yet again, we were poor against Man United. We were lucky to get that equaliser, carved again by our talisman who no doubt will be on his way in 5 weeks time, finished well by Fletcher, who did indeed play his socks off, but you can see needs some time in the first team to get stronger, but he did well. No matter what form we’re in we always tend to bring a great game out the bag against the big teams — which makes the prospective of the last 2 games against Man U and the next 2 games against Arsenal and Liverpool really exciting and you could forgive us all for thinking (expecting?) we’ll get something (possibly) out of all of them.

However, we’ve not played very well all season. On Wednesday night we were awful – Man United played really well, yes, and they had a strong team out, but we delayed on the ball, we tried to play out of defensive trouble too many times, instead of trying to pass it out of trouble, or even just “Big Sam it” and hoof it up the field. Far too many times we tried to trick or dribble our way out. Payet, Antonio, Cresswell, they all did it. Lets not get me onto Masuaku on my first post…

We have the worst record for defensive errors leading to goals in the league, for the entire year – not just this season. The last 12 months.

Steve Kreeger Squawka Table v2

Last year we were on fire. I remember Howard Webb saying on a Match of the Day at some point that if West Ham hadn’t had such bad decisions against us and disallowed goals we’d be title contenders based on the points that those decisions likely denied us. We were on fire.

This season though, we seem to not have that desire, that hunger, that team spirit. I think a lot of it is down to the bad summer signings (and too many of them) who simply haven’t gelled in the team. In my opinion, a lot can then be said as to why we’re not playing as a solid unit. 

Last year Noble was tipped for England. This year he’s touch and go as to whether I’d pick him week in week out if I was Slav.

If the rumours are true, January could see a big shift in the team dynamic — but that could be the revelation we need, or it could signal relegation…I sincerely hope not. We need to find our team unity again.

I still believe… I still expect… COYI

Please check back after the match for the results.


Guest Post

Supporters Association Update

Guest post by Paul Christmas

You are all invited to the next meeting of the West Ham Independent Supporters Association which will take place this Saturday upstairs at the Hammers Supporters Club in Castle Street starting at 1pm. Entry is free. We shall be able to update you on our activities over the last couple of weeks as an association as well as forward plan our launch.
With kick off at 5.30 it is envisaged that the meeting should last about an hour or so. That way we all have time to travel over to the OS to get ready for the destruction of Arsenal.
Your attendance and input is, as always, welcomed and vital to the association as it gets off the ground.
I look forward to seeing you.

Paul

Joint Chair
WHUISA

Please check back after the match for the results.


Match Report

REFLECTING ON MANCHESTER AND ADAPTING FOR ARSENAL

Two games in four days against Manchester Utd produced very contrasting performances. Our first was energetic and well-executed. Sakho was excellent, as were several others, and we fought back from a slow start to deliver a commendable performance. Our second was the polar opposite.

Something was missing on Wednesday. Several players were out of form and we struggled from the start. Utd pressed high up the pitch, pinning our wing backs deep and funnelling our play centrally. We lacked the energy, discipline and imagination to overcome their tactics and intensity and collapsed to a morale-damaging defeat.

Injuries to Cresswell and Antonio rubbed salt into our wounds and we can only hope that neither are serious. The loss of Sakho for six weeks is a devastating blow and robs us of a crucial skill set, invaluable to the style of football we want to play. Fletcher and Carroll are very different players to Sakho and we will miss his energy, defending from the front and use of the channels.

Tweeking the existing system

According to reports, Ayew missed the midweek game to continue an intensive training programme, designed to get him up to full fitness. I think he’s the player that offers a similar threat to Sakho. He performed well when brought on in our first game against Utd and showed glimpses of his talent. He could be played in a front two with Fletcher, using a 3-2-3-2 formation – retaining the wing-backs as we don’t have cover for a four at the back formation unless Arbeloa returns – which would allow Payet a more central role where he could roam freely, covered by Obiang and Noble/Lanzini. Ayew and Fletcher would drop into midfield when defending and press their central midfielders, creating an overload in midfield when we don’t have the ball. Ayew and Fletcher are both energetic, quick players and capable of performing this role.

With news that Antonio and Cresswell will miss the Arsenal game – and potentially the Liverpool game too – we will need to bring Masuaku in for Cresswell and Fernandes in for Antonio. Neither player will offer the same threat going forward, but both are well equipped defensively. Masuaku appears to be a very solid defensive full back and I’ve been impressed with his performances since he joined us. He’s far from the finished article but to come to one of the toughest leagues in the world and hold your own is admirable. However, he is not an attacking full back/wing back, and Fernandes isn’t even a full back or wing back, so we need to be aware of this and adjust accordingly.

Playing a system with three at the back and two wing backs is normally reliant on those wing backs providing the width and an attacking threat. Failing that we face a situation similar to our cup match; getting funnelled centrally. This isn’t necessarily a problem if our central players can transition quicker and use one and two touch football – which we were not doing on Wednesday. That’s why, for me, a holding pair of Obiang and Lanzini/Noble with Payet ahead of them is perfectly suited. Having two up front won’t allow Arsenal to press us so high, as long as they put in a shift, and unlike Utd, Arsenal’s plan A won’t be to get down the wings and pump balls into the box. They may surprise us and try this with Giroud, but our defence should be well equipped to deal with it. If we get it right then we will congest the midfield and there we can use our superior strength and aggression to unsettle Arsenal and slow the tempo of the game to the level we desire.

We were very sloppy against Utd, probably the most complacent I’ve seen us this season, and I’d be surprised if Bilic allowed this to happen again. One positive to take from the game was Ashley Fletcher’s performance and his first goal for the club. It was an excellent and instinctual finish from a very promising player and it must have meant a lot coming against his old club. May this be the first of many.

Onwards and upwards

We face a difficult challenge against Arsenal on Saturday but one we can win if we execute our game plan correctly. Arsenal will be looking to bounce back after a shock cup exit against Southampton and it’s up to us to use that to our advantage. We have got the better of them before under Bilic and he’ll be desperate to do so again. We have our injury problems which won’t help, but we have the ability to pull results from the jaws of obscurity, so I’m remaining positive.

Regardless of the result, I think we’d all be happy as long as we see the effort, commitment and passion that were all lacking on Wednesday. It’s time for the players to start taking responsibility and turn our season around.

COYI

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