Zaman Siddiqui's Match Review

Lukaku went Cuckoo

Lukaku didn’t score. Let that sink in: Romelu Lukaku didn’t score against us. So this is what it feels like to play against Everton without the one goal Lukaku handicap. Prior to this match, the Belgian scored a goal against us in each of his nine previous appearances. Had he scored in this match, he would have been on double figures for consecutive goals scored! Going into this match, I was deeply concerned, given the fact that he has already scored two dozen goals so far this season. This year could be the one he makes a big move elsewhere. He is the top scoring PL player this calendar year netting 14 times with just 23 shots on target. Only Lionel Messi has scored more often in the top five European leagues than Lukaku with 17 goals.

Even though he failed to register a single shot on target in this match, I have to pay homage to the Belgian striker who could make a bigger name for himself at PSG, Barcelona or Real Madrid. I personally think that we won’t see him play in the Premier League next season. He has stated countless times before that he wants to play Champions League football. Perhaps looking back at his career will guide us to the answer. With that, we will be able to better work out whether we are going to lose a potential six points or not in the seasons to come (they all count)!

Lukaku signed for FC Anderlecht at the age of 16 in May 2009. It only took him a few months to get into the first-team just in time for next season, which he ended as the top goalscorer in the Belgian Pro League with 15 goals and won the title with his side. He also scored four goals during the club’s run to the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Makes sense for a youngster to get Europa League football, so that they can expect Champions League football when they are older. Well, that’s true if his name is Romelu Lukaku. In August 2011, he signed for Chelsea for £17M (including add-ons).

When his team won the Champions League against Bayern Munich, he admitted that he was disappointed with his involvement in his debut season, and as such, refused to hold the trophy as he didn’t feel like a winner. I mean, wow! What 19 year old kid would say that they wouldn’t want to hold arguably one of the most difficult trophies to obtain? John Terry celebrated like a complete wally, despite not even playing in that match, whilst Lukaku didn’t even let himself be happy. From there, it is worth noting both are talented, but one actually cares about his footballing career on, and more importantly, off the pitch. He later went on to outscore all of his Chelsea teammates on loan at West Brom and Everton the two seasons after. Additionally, he is the first foreign player to score 80 goals before his 24th birthday.

Our encounters with Everton over recent years have been awful – that is down to one man. Lukaku’s first appearance for Everton just had to be against us! Back in September of 2013, he came off the bench for Nikica Jelavic in the second half – who would play him? Oh, right. Us. Anyway, he came on in the second half and scored the winner in the 86th minute. That is the simplest way I can describe our relationship with him: he scores a goal and we lose the game.

Despite the hype around Lukaku and Everton, this was one of the most boring matches to watch all season. It is our first goalless draw this season and indeed at the London Stadium. The thing is, that this wasn’t an off day. There is a reason they have now failed to win any of their last six away games. Something that really caught me by surprise and indeed others who made Lukaku captain in their Fantasy Football teams (admit it) was that Everton failed to get a shot on target in the whole match. In fact, it took them until the 70th minute to register their first shot. In all honesty, Everton just weren’t at the races. Koeman said that if he was allowed to do so, he would have made 10 changes at half time.

Furthermore, I feel that whilst Everton didn’t attack like they normally do, we defended with a lot of confidence. Collins, in particular, played an absolute blinder. In previous games, through balls have snuck through when we’ve played with three at the back. With Lukaku to stop, it could have gone all wrong. Fortunately, our defence was at hand making lots of clearances. Masuaku and Nordtveit could have been forgotten about already had the manager not given them second chances. Nordtveit kept his second clean sheet out of two games playing in his native position, whilst Masuaku’s new hairstyle seems to have invigorated him, as he made seven dribbles and tracked back well. Speaking of players that never should have been considered to be completely dropped, Adrián kept his fourth clean sheet of the season; the same number Darren Randolph has kept, despite the Spaniard playing 10 games fewer. In short, we never deserved to concede. Something I can’t say too often this season.

Some new signings work out and some don’t – Calleri is currently in the latter pile. Our lack of attacking options meant that we struggled to finish. We had 15 shots with only three on target. In some ways, it is disappointing not to have got all three points, but given the predicament we are in regards to attacking options, we can’t complain. On the plus side, this draw shows the strength of our character. We have had 11 players out for at least 2 months this season, yet are currently in 13th. It is important that we keep this mentality against Stoke next week. If we can somehow end the season in the top half, that form could carry on into next season.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Everton

West Ham v Everton
Olympic Stadium
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: BBC Radio London

Everton Starting XI

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

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Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Everton

Blast from the past

22nd January 1927: Peter Warlock’s string serenade was recorded for the National Gramophonic Society, Fritz Lang’s science-fiction fantasy Metropolis had recently premiered in Germany and General Sir Charles Warren – officer in the British Royal Engineers, one of the earliest European archaeologists of the Biblical Holy Land, head of the Metropolitan Police during the Jack the Ripper murders and commander in combat during the Second Boer War – had died the day before aged 86. In east London, West Ham United defeated visitors Everton by two goals to one.

32-year-old inside-left Billy Moore (pictured) scored for the Hammers that day in front of 11,235 at the Boleyn Ground – Newcastle-born Moore signed from Sunderland in 1922 and played in the 1923 FA Cup Final for the club. He made one international appearance for England, scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Sweden in May 1923. He retired from playing in 1929 but stayed at West Ham to become assistant trainer and was promoted in 1932, staying at the club as trainer-in-chief until his retirement in 1960. He died in 1968 at the age of 73.

Legendary centre-forward and all-time leading Hammers goalscorer Vic Watson notched the other Hammers’ goal, with Irish inside-right Bobby Irvine grabbing the Toffees’ consolation. Moore would end the season with two goals from 13 appearances, while Watson would be the Irons’ top goalscorer of the campaign with 37 goals in 45 matches.

Syd King’s Irons went on to finish in sixth place in the top flight that season, the highest League position up to that point in their history, while Everton in contrast suffered one of their worst campaigns as they finished 20th, one place and four points above the relegation places, with only 34 points won from 42 matches. Newcastle won the league title in 1926/27, finishing ten points clear of the Hammers, and Cardiff won the FA Cup.

West Ham United: Ted Hufton, Jack Hebden, George Horler, George Carter, Jim Barrett, Jimmy Collins, Tommy Yews, Stan Earle, Vic Watson, Billy Moore, Jimmy Ruffell.

Everton: Henry Hardy, John McDonald, Jasper Kerr, Joe Peacock, Albert Virr, Hunter Hart, Ted Critchley, Bobby Irvine, Dixie Dean, Arthur Dominy, Alec Troup.

Club Connections

Considering they have spent the majority of their respective histories at a reasonably similar level, West Ham United and Everton have shared relatively few players. Slaven Bilic welcomes his former club having played for Everton after leaving West Ham in 1997. Enner Valencia is currently on loan from West Ham at Everton but Premier League rules mean he cannot face the Hammers. Others who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: George Kitchen, Richard Wright.

Defenders: David Burrows, William Wildman, William Kelly, George Eccles, Alex McCartney, David Unsworth, Lars Jacobsen, Lucas Neill.

Midfielders: Joe Blythe, Don Hutchison, Mark Ward, Ray Atteveld, Niclas Alexandersson, Danny Williamson, Ian Bishop, Thomas Hitzlsperger.

Strikers: Nikica Jelavic, Tony Cottee, Charlie Crossley, Mike Newell.

Today’s focus falls on a player who spent one season with the Hammers after joining from the Toffees. John Russell was born in Liverpool in 1880 and made his Everton debut in a 3-1 win at Bolton on 1st November 1902. He had to wait exactly five months for his next appearance, a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle on 1st April 1903 and followed that up with his only home appearance for the club three days later, in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Goodison Park. Research suggests that Russell played each of his Everton matches as an inside-forward.

After just three goalless appearances for Everton, and none in the 1903/04 season, the 24-year-old Russell left the First Division club to move to Southern League West Ham United. He would be followed a year later by goalkeeper George Kitchen, who had played alongside Russell in each of his three Everton appearances and who made the same move from the Toffees to the Hammers. Incidentally, at West Ham, Kitchen became the club’s penalty taker and became the first-ever goalkeeper to score on his debut with a penalty against Swindon on 2nd September 1905.

Russell, meanwhile, has his own place in Hammers history. He made his debut in the official opening of the Boleyn Ground in the opening fixture of the 1904/05 campaign, a 3-0 victory against Millwall in front of 10,000 on 1st September 1904 – he is pictured with his team-mates and management staff, fourth from the right in the middle row. He kept his place in the side at wing-half for the next 15 games in league and FA Cup before being replaced by Len Jarvis. Russell made just one more appearance for West Ham United, on the final day of the 1904/05 season in a 3-0 win at Watford on 25th April 1905. In total he made 17 appearances for the club, without scoring – he left in the summer of 1905.

Referee

Saturday’s referee will be Roger East; the Wiltshire-based official has been taking charge of Premier League fixtures since 2012 but has only taken charge of two previous West Ham matches in the top flight, those being the 1-1 home draw with Stoke in April 2015 and, more recently, the 3-2 home defeat to Leicester last month.

Most of East’s matches this season have been in the Championship. The 51-year-old has also refereed the Hammers in the FA Cup, for the fourth round replay win over Liverpool in February 2016 and for the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Manchester United last April. He also sent off Portsmouth’s Liam Lawrence and West Ham’s Frederic Piquionne in the Irons’ 4-3 home win over Pompey in September 2011.

Possible line-ups

For West Ham United, Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio, Gokhan Tore and Andy Carroll are all on the sidelines through injury. Havard Nordtveit could come into the starting line-up in place of the suspended Sam Byram, while Mark Noble sits out the final match of his own ban. Winston Reid could be available but has not played for over a month, while either Andre Ayew or Jonathan Calleri could start up front. Everton have certainly been the Hammers’ bogey side in recent seasons – we have only beaten the Toffees once in the league, home or away, since April 2007, drawing four and losing ten in all competitions since then. In addition, West Ham haven’t recorded a win over Everton by more than a single-goal margin since 1982.

Everton will be without the injured Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Muhamed Besic, James McCarthy, Aaron Lennon and Yannick Bolasie, while Premier League regulations prevent on-loan Enner Valencia from featuring against his parent club. Romelu Lukaku has scored in each of his last nine matches against West Ham.

Possible West Ham United XI: Randolph; Nordtveit, Fonte, Collins, Masuaku; Kouyate, Fernandes; Feghouli, Lanzini, Snodgrass; Ayew.

Possible Everton XI: Robles; Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies; Mirallas, Barkley; Lukaku.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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Talking Point

Will West Ham close the gap on Spurs?

The owners have frequently talked about ambition for West Ham to become a top six side in the future and that starts with closing the gap on Spurs they claim.

In terms of financial power, West Ham lags behind their North London rivals. Tottenham published their accounts for 2016 last month showing an increase in turnover to just under £210m to compared to the Hammers £142m for the same period last season.

Spurs Premier League gate receipts were £22.2m. Like the Hammers White Hart Lane sold out for all Premier League home games but they claim to have a waiting list for season tickets of 63,200 compared to our 55,000 waiting list. They reached the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League resulting in gate receipts and prize money of £18.7m. Revenue from the domestic cup competitions earned the Club £2.4m. Television and media revenues rose to £94.8m after they finished third in the Premier League.

In reality, their income will continue to outstrip West Ham’s as the Champions League mega money comes through this season and they look odds on favourite’s to qualify again this season and continue on that money trail.

Next season they will play at Wembley and could see regular attendances of over 80,000. In February this year, they had an attendance of 80,465 that watched Tottenham v Gent which is a new UEFA Europa League attendance record, beating the previous high set when Manchester United met Liverpool last season. They have applied to Brent Council to hold Premier League games at the full 90,000 capacity for the next two seasons.

Their new 61,000 capacity £800million stadium should be ready ahead of the 2018-19 season. Although they will need to fund it for many years, it has been purpose built for football, they own it and will, therefore, sell the naming rights for as much as £20m per year and they keep all the catering and pouring income.

Although technically West Ham will one day have the ability to claim a 66,000 capacity rented stadium, the when is less clear due to a requirement for planning permission for extra toilet and catering to cope with 9,000 additional match day fans. The stadium owners and the club are currently at a stalemate over money at the moment and any increase from 57,000 is debatable for next season as it stands. Spurs also plan to sign up an American football franchise for their new stadium.

On the pitch is probably the biggest gap. Despite Spurs being the sixth biggest turnover in the Premier League, they have outperformed their financial might on the pitch last season and again this season.

They have 71 points and are in second place just four points behind league leaders Chelsea while West Ham settles for 13th position on 37 points.

Their chairman rarely talks to the media, is not on twitter and never makes promises or statements he can not realistically deliver. We may not like Levy but it hard not to admire his business acumen and transfer dealings.

They have invested wisely and bought and developed youngsters. Eastender Harry Kane was a youth product of their academy and they signed a young Delli Alli for £5m from MK Dons in 2015 to name just a few.

Pochettino is a well-respected manager. He has a squad of players that routinely outclass their opposition in terms of distance covered on the pitch. With training sessions allegedly higher in intensity than matches and a rigorous preseason training regime, Pochettino ensures that even if his team lose, it would not be due to a lack of effort.His team rarely lose, especially at home. They have an impeccable defence and has conceded the fewest goals in the league.

The core of the Spurs side is refreshingly young with Harry Kane at 23, Dele Alli at 21 and Christian Eriksen at 24, among others. The Argentinian manager seems comfortable to integrate a steady inflow of talent from the youth academy, there is no other manager who would be quite as prepared to risk his reputation for giving youth a chance.

On the flip side, it is true that we have the largest TV screen in Europe at the London Stadium but this is the only thing we could claim to have the upper hand over them over the foreseeable future. It pains me to write all of this and embarrassing that our club boasts the largest TV screen in Europe as a positive.

However, we have closed the gap on the physical distance between the two clubs, West Ham is only 4.5 miles away from White Hart Lane compared to 6.4 miles away from the Boleyn ground. By road, the shortest route is 5.8 miles along the A10 while it would be 10.5 miles by road from the Boleyn ground.

In reality beyond TV screens and physical distance, we will not be catching Spurs anytime soon and not be joining the top six anytime soon either. It is time we just accept that and move on.

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Talking Point

A Question of Perspective

Blind Hammer puts the Sunderland game in perspective.

There will be few West Ham supporters not disappointed with the manner of conceding 2 points on Saturday. Not only did we concede points late in the game, yet again, but we contrived to let the most ineffective attack in the league score twice.

On a straight comparison we did not, for large parts of the game, achieve any sort of dominance against, what the table tells us is the worst team in the league. This inevitably invited the observation that we are little better and actually lucky not to be relegation material ourselves.

Whilst we are in the midst of one of the worst injury crisis Bilic has had to cope with, Sunderland, also were similarly deprived of key performers through suspension and injury. The observations of fans after the game made for gloomy reading.

An often quoted maxim is that “the table does not lie”. My point in this piece is to argue that in contrast, it often does.

Every football match is a competitive event and to that extent each individual match is relatively unpredictable, depending of course on the relative strengths of the protagonists. If we wanted evidence of this we need look no further than Sunderland themselves. Despite their position it was only a few weeks ago that this self-same team, allegedly incapable of scoring goals, actually scored 4 goals without reply against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Wind forward a few weeks and this same Palace team, so ineffectual against Sunderland, were in the space of 7 days defeating Chelsea away and Arsenal at home. This unpredictability is the stuff on which football thankfully thrives. In the Championship Reading can, in the space of 7 days lose 7-1 away to a struggling Norwich team having a dreadful run of form, but then in the same week go to Villa Park and win 3-1 against a side who had previously won 7 out of 9 games.

None of these results make any sense at all when referenced against the table and the form book. If we are to believe the table and form guides West Ham are unlikely to pick up a single point between now and the end of the season. Hopefully this will not prove to be the case.

If we are to give any credence to the maxim that the table does not lie this relates to a general assessment of position at the end of a season. It does not necessarily relate to any particular match

When we beat Chelsea in the League Cup, earlier in the season, nobody sensible could claim that we could now be compared to Chelsea, simply based on this one result. Similarly the result against Sunderland whilst disappointing, did not condemn us as the worst current team in the league.

It is not generally a happy time to be a West Ham supporter. However some perspective needs to temper our disappointment. . Remember to celebrate and savour the successes just that more when the good times arrive again.

COYI

David Griffith

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