The S J Chandos Column

More of the same Vs Arsenal?

Over the course of the Man City and Chelsea matches, David Moyes has been successful in establishing a system and set of tactics that have brought improvement, greater defensive efficiency, a clean sheet and vital first win. He achieved it by building upon the greater solidarity afforded by three centre-backs and two wing-backs, with two defensive midfielders (Obiang and Noble latterly against Chelsea) providing additional cover. It is a system that anticipates the opposition seeing more of the ball and possessing players with the skill and vision to pass through our rear guard. The objective being to restrict the opposition the space and time to do that and rely on our ability to counter-attack and exploit set pieces. In the situation in which we found ourselves, after the Everton defeat, it was the way to go and we should continue it against Arsenal.

Winning becomes an habit and so does keeping clean sheets. Our primary target is to set Arsenal one hell of a challenge and make it as hard as possible for them to break us down. That means no silly defensive lapses or errors and making Arsenal work for any openings. At the same time, like against Chelsea, we need to counter-attack swiftly and take any chances that we create. In Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic, we have players have can break fast and finish. In Reid, Kouyate, Ogbonna and Antonio, we have big powerful players who are more than able to use their ariel strength to convert from set pieces. In Zabaletta and Musuaku we also have wing-backs who can get forward and give us width down the flanks. For me, the only issue is whether we change the selection slightly to add Hernandez to the attack. But of course that would mean losing a player in midfield and I am not sure that is a good idea against Arsenal? The best solution is to probably set up without Hernandez and use him from the bench at an appropriate juncture of the match.

How do I think Moyes will set up? Something like this:

Adrian, Zabaletta, Musuaku, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Reid. Obiang, Kouyate or Noble, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Antonio

Progress needs to be continuous and it is vital that we show further improvement this evening. That means taking at least a point from the Arsenal match and three if the opportunity presents itself. I believe that the above tactics give us the best chance to get a result and should be continued. It does not necessarily mean that we will use the same tactics/selection against the likes of Stoke City and Newcastle United, but against the top teams it is definitely the way to go.

I am going for a 1-1 draw, but if we could sneak a 2-1 victory it would do us a power of good. Optimistically, are we not overdue one of our periodic victories over the gooners? It would be very nice if that was the case and it happened this evening. COYI !

SJ. Chandos.

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Arsenal

Blast from the past

3rd October 1999 – the Rugby World Cup had just started in Wales, Eiffel 65 were number one with ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’ and Big Daddy was in UK cinemas

Meanwhile, 26,009 at the Boleyn Ground saw the Hammers edge to a first home victory over their north London rivals in 12 years, with Paolo Di Canio proving to be the difference between the two sides. The Italian gave the Irons the lead on 29 minutes when he embarked on a solo run which took him to the edge of the Arsenal penalty area – the ball broke for Trevor Sinclair to nudge the ball past England goalkeeper David Seaman and Di Canio got the final touch to make it 1-0 at half-time.

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Di Canio doubled the lead with 18 minutes to play – Shaka Hislop’s long kick downfield found its way to Paolo who expertly brought the ball inside Martin Keown and beat Tony Adams and Seaman to cushion a composed finish into the top corner. Future Hammer Davor Suker prodded a consolation for the visitors five minutes later after Steve Lomas headed the ball into his path. An eventful last six minutes saw Patrick Vieira sent off, the Frenchman receiving his second yellow card for a foul on the irrepressible Di Canio – Vieira did not go quietly, spitting at Hammers defender Neil Ruddock before he was ushered from the field. Hammers midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe was more gracious in his departure when he received his marching orders, also for a second booking, in the final minute. All the goals and red cards from the game can be seen in my video below.

Harry Redknapp’s Hammers would finish ninth in the Premier League in 1999/2000. Di Canio would be top scorer with 18 goals in 45 appearances and was named Hammer of the Year, with Sinclair runner-up. Arsenal would finish runners-up to champions Manchester United, while Chelsea won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop, Steve Potts, Igor Stimac, Neil Ruddock, Steve Lomas, Marc-Vivien Foe, Frank Lampard Junior, John Moncur (Javier Margas), Trevor Sinclair, Paulo Wanchope (Paul Kitson), Paolo Di Canio.

Arsenal: David Seaman, Oleg Luzhny (Marc Overmars), Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Silvinho, Freddie Ljungberg, Gilles Grimandi, Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry (Nwankwo Kanu), Davor Suker, Dennis Bergkamp.

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: Charles Ambler, 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, 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 Portuguese player who had a spell with Arsenal in the late 1990s before later playing for West Ham. Luis Boa Morte was born on the 4th August 1977 in Lisbon and started his professional career at Sporting Lisbon. He became one of Arsene Wenger’s first signings for Arsenal when he joined in 1997 for a fee of £1.75m. He made his debut on 23rd August 1997 as a substitute against future club Southampton. He made 15 league appearances during Arsenal’s double winning 1997/98 season, mostly as substitute. He also played four matches in the FA Cup that season – although he did not appear in the final itself, Boa Morte did score a penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out win against West Ham at Upton Park. He scored two goals that season, both in a League Cup tie against Birmingham.

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He remained a fairly regular squad member in 1998/99, usually as substitute in the early part of the season. He also appeared for the Gunners in the European Cup, scoring Arsenal’s third goal against Panathinaikos on 9th December 1998. His fourth and final Arsenal goal came against Preston in the FA Cup. He came on as a substitute as Arsenal won the 1999 Charity Shield and his final appearance for the Gunners was as a second-half substitute at Sunderland on 14th August 1999. Having failed to break into the first-team on a regular basis at Highbury, he signed for Dave Jones’ Southampton in August 1999 for an initial fee of £500,000. He joined Fulham on a season-long loan in the summer of 2000 with the move to Craven Cottage later being made permanent.

After six and a half seasons in west London, the 29-year-old Boa Morte moved east to sign for Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United in January 2007 for a reported fee of £5m, setting up two goals on his debut in a 3-0 home win against Brighton in the FA Cup. He replaced crowd favourite Matthew Etherington for the closing stages of ‘The Great Escape’ and scored his first goal for the Hammers in a crucial 3-0 win at Wigan on 28th April 2007.

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He made 40 starts in total in 2007/08 and 2008/09, without scoring. After representing his country in the 2006 World Cup, Boa Morte earned an international recall in June 2009. However, disaster struck when, on 29th July 2009, Boa Morte picked up a serious injury in a pre-season friendly against Tottenham Hotspur when playing in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Beijing – the midfielder got his studs stuck in the ground, twisted his knee and suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury. This kept him sidelined for all but the final game of 2009/10 – he made his return to action in the final day 1-1 draw with Manchester City, marking his comeback by scoring his only goal at Upton Park. Both of Boa Morte’s goals for the Hammers can be viewed in my video below.

Boa Morte signed a contract extension but, after relegation the following summer, his contract was terminated by mutual consent. After two goals in 109 matches for West Ham, Boa Morte signed for his former Fulham manager Chris Coleman at Greek side AE Larissa in August 2011. After just six months, the Portuguese international was on the move again, signing for South African club Orlando Pirates. Boa Morte ended his professional career in January 2013 after a two-month spell at Chesterfield. He has since managed Fulham’s Under-21 side, been assistant manager of Sporting Lisbon’s B team and managed the club’s Under-19s. He has scouted for Arsenal and now, at the age of 40, is manager of Portuguese third division club Sintrense.

Referee

The referee on Wednesday will be Jonathan Moss. The Yorkshire-based official has sent off a player in six of his last eight appointments involving the Hammers – the 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth in August 2015 saw Carl Jenkinson sent off, while the 2-1 win over Chelsea last October saw Nemanja Matic dismissed (then-Blues manager Jose Mourinho was also sent to the stands). Moss issued a red card to Jordan Ayew of Aston Villa in February with the Hammers going on to win 2-0 while, going further back, Burnley’s Michael Duff was also sent off by Moss in our 1-0 home win over the Clarets in May 2015.

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Moss also issued a red card to Cheikhou Kouyate in the 5-1 FA Cup fifth round win at Blackburn in February, although this was later rescinded. Arguably the 47-year-old’s most controversial Hammers appointment was the 2-2 draw at Leicester in April 2016 when he sent off Jamie Vardy and awarded two penalties, the second arriving deep into stoppage time as the Foxes rescued a precious point. Moss refereed the Hammers twice last season – the first being the 3-0 home defeat to Southampton in September 2016 and he sent Mourinho to the stands in his most recent match in charge of the Hammers, last season’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United will be without Sam Byram, Jose Fonte, James Collins, Cheikhou Kouyate and Edimilson Fernandes. Since the aforementioned match in 1999, West Ham have only beaten Arsenal once in 15 home matches in all competitions (in November 2006).

Arsenal will be without Shkodran Mustafi, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla, but Theo Walcott should be available.

With one eye on Saturday’s visit to Stoke, Winston Reid is one yellow card away from missing the match.

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

Possible Arsenal XI: Cech; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Wilshere, Xhaka; Ozil, Lacazette, Sanchez.

Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!

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Tony Hanna's Musings

Even the Bookies are impressed

Normally a new football manager gets an immediate “bounce” but we don’t do normal and our one got three defeats and a draw to start his West Ham career. On his debut, Watford took the mickey in the final 30 minutes playing keep football to the opposition crowds ole’s as we wilted to a 2-0 defeat. There was a glimmer of hope in the second game at home to Leicester as for once we got to see some sort of organisation and effort but still only a point. In Moyes third game, against Everton, any sense of optimism gained from the Leicester match was crushed as we wilted to a 4-0 defeat against a side that was as devoid of confidence and self belief as we were. To rub salt in the wounds there was Big Sam looking down from the stands watching his new safety project – chewing gum, thumbs up with a wide grin on his face. If I can analogise it was like watching the bird that dumped you showing off her new boyfriend to all and sundry. Not that Sam dumped us but when Frank Lampard used to score against us and then kiss the Chelsea badge it gave me the same sort of feeling.

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The prospect of the next set of fixtures got most of us older Hammers fans reaching for the abacus. City, Chelsea and Arsenal – oh the joy! I went for 6-0 in the predictor against City– how about you? The signs that things are changing at West Ham were there for all to see though as we led 1-0 at half time until the inevitable happened. Why can’t we play a Manchester City side without De Bruyne and David Silva? And so on to Chelsea. Why can’t we play a Chelsea side without Eden Hazard? But this time it didn’t matter and in fact beating a Chelsea side with Hazard and Kante in it makes it feel even better. It is often said that in the past we raise ourselves for the big games and we do the unexpected, but the last two performances have been light years ahead of much of what we have seen in recent months. So, are we turning the corner or are our we getting ahead of ourselves? That great barometer, you know the bookie guys with their professional, cold and unemotional outlook on the game of football seem to think the former. Before the City game we were even money to get relegated, that’s a 50% chance. Now we are 11/4 – just a 26% chance despite still being in the bottom three. You might say that they have also been duly impressed.

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But before we get carried away we need to learn many more lessons. Sitting back in an organised way on the back of a 1-0 lead against quality opposition is a different proposition to the games we face more often over the course of a season. Those games where the class difference is much closer and where many of these teams will try to do the same to us as we did to Chelsea. Antonio and Arny’s pace and strength have looked good in tandem against City and Chelsea but how will they fare when we play the likes of West Brom and Stoke at the OS? After what has transpired over the past fortnight will Moyes revert back to his Duncan Ferguson style tactics now that Carroll has recovered from his knock? Where does Chico fit in – if at all? Moyes looks as though he has got us fit and organised enough to be hard to break down and beat but there will be different obstacles to overcome when we play teams where they are the ones sitting back looking to hit us on the break.

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I have long been an admirer of Arthur Masuaku. Convinced he was a player of great talent it was always my belief he would improve defensively given time. Perhaps that will happen, perhaps it won’t, but I have no doubt he has cemented his place in the team for now. What an exciting player he could become for us? On the other side of the coin I have also been banging the drum that Cresswell’s form had dropped so much he shouldn’t be seen anywhere near a West Ham shirt. Well, judging from the last few games the “old” Cresswell is back and I am so happy for Dan Coker who never lost the faith in him! Whilst I never gave up hope that fan favourite Adrian would get back into the West Ham team, I doubt it would have happened under Slaven Bilic? I base this on his all too long reluctance to give the Spaniard a recall despite Randolph’s poor form last season. I have little doubt Adrian would have been angling for a January move but for Moyes giving him this new chance? I must say I have warmed to David Moyes. Whilst some say his pressers lack positivity I prefer the realism and honesty. The manager, the players and the supporters have been given a shot in the arm over the past week or so. Let’s hope we can kick on from here.

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Dawud Marsh's Photo Diary

Just Like My Dreams They Fade and Die Part 3

My final post in this mini series about the final season at the Boleyn and this thread focuses on the ground itself. Apart from one photo, I took these on a stadium tour I managed to join before the gates were closed for the last time. It was quite emotional in many ways, looking out onto the pitch remembering some of the best matches in recent history, not least some very special results in the last season. I am sure many readers here will bring up some of these memories in the comments below. Hearing the crowd cheering on our team, shouting out at the referee and inevitable criticism of individual players from both teams became part of that special atmosphere that built Upton Park to be what it was for many over the years – our home. Time to draw a line now and move on? It has certainly been an emotional journey looking through my photos and editing them ready to post. Be great to read what others have to say.

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The Blind Hammer Column

Moyes Is Learning

Blind Hammer reflects on Moyes’ new coaching setup

It was weird this morning. On the day after a West Ham game I woke up feeling quite serene. For the first time for ages I felt there was a steadying hand at the tiller of the West Ham defensive coaching setup.

After the Everton defeat I wrote that Moyes was not only a man in a hurry but one who needed to learn fast in what direction he wanted to go.
Before and after his appointment there were despairing references to Moyes as a “dinosaur that was going to rely solely on the long ball and parking the bus. In particular his instant recourse to and reliance on the strengths of Andy Carroll seemed ominous for the sort of football we could expect.

Yet after only a month in charge we find the guardian describing West Ham in the following terms.
“Chelsea was deservedly beaten by opponents who were simply more organised, more determined, and more athletic and who found a sting when on top.”

Even a couple of weeks ago the notion that West Ham could be more organised and athletic than a top four side seemed a pipe dream.

In complete contradiction to some of the early negative perspective Moyes is showing early signs of intellectual flexibility and insight. He swiftly identified our present vulnerability with a flat back 4, so easily exposed in the Everton game. He responded by having the insight to move Creswell into the left of a defensive 3. Cresswell responded by providing his best performance of the season. This solidity provided the platform for Masuaku to provide a rampaging man of the match performance at left wing back. He stressed the Chelsea defence all afternoon. Conte tried to counter Masuaku by introducing Moses to occupy and reduce his threat. In the event Moses spent more time chasing Masuaku than the other way around. On the right, Zabeleta had arguably his best performance in a West Ham shirt.
Moyes also seems able to unlock the mercurial talents of Arnautovic in a new look forward line up. Moyes stressed post match that Carroll still had an important role at the club but these were talents that would be needed for some but not all games. Yesterday he wanted the pace and mobility of both Arnautovic and Antonio. Even when Arnautovic was withdrawn he wanted the greater mobility that Sakho offered. Moyes provided blunt straightforwardness by criticising Antonio’s physical collapse after the game. He made it clear that he needed forwards who could play for 90 and not 65 minutes. MOYES IS SHOWING ABILITY TO GRAPS SOME uncomfortable NETTLES. THIS WAS HUGELY DEMONSTRATED BY HIS RETENTION OF Adrian in goal. Adrian must feel vindicated now after Sullivan’s description of Hart as the best goalkeeper he has ever worked with.

Above all what was encouraging for me was the evidence of intelligent coaching. My in-stadium commentator told us that behind him were Alan Irvine who was in constant communication on a mobile link to Moyes’ earpiece. From his high viewpoint he provided feedback on patterns of play and development that Moyes would have found difficult to see from the touchline. On the touchline the presence of Pearce which is vast amount of international and club management and coaching experience was so much more reassuring to see than Julian Dicks, legendary as a player but sadly not as a coach.
Last night when I got home I re-listened to the game on iPlayer. Pat Nevins thought that all over the park Moyes had out thought Conte tactically. Specifically he thought West Ham had trained to disrupt the previously successful hazard Morata combination and link up play. Morata was also nullified in the box through defenders ganging up on him. He praised how generally West Ham’s midfield quashed Chelsea’s threat by not just effort but also intelligence.
For me personally, I was gratified that we did not, every time we won a corner, then concede an effort on our goal on the break. Special praise is due to Obiang, who provided this covering security.
Finally yet again the Stadium provided an atmosphere to be proud of. The nonsense that the arena is a soulless bowl was yet again disproven. The atmosphere is dreadful when we are playing badly and do not appear to have a clue. The same was true for Upton Park actually.
One Swallow does not make a summer but at last there is some reason for optimism.
COYI
David Griffith


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