Transfer Gossip

Rodney, you know it makes sense! An attempted ‘realistic’ take on our striker targets

Guest Post by Forever Blowing Bubbles

The January transfer window is much maligned as being one that exists exclusively for the panic buyers, with very little quality on offer. That is not strictly true, as the quality is certainly there, but not necessarily available and if so only for exorbitant prices as no one is willing to sell any top player slap bang in the middle of the season and quite rightly so! With regards to panic buys…well…we wouldn’t even be considering them in our current situation had our transfer strategy in the summer been more sound. And it is my concern that this is the route we once again find ourselves trundling down.

In the summer, it was all about the fabled £30m striker, and while I cannot fault the David’s ambition, none of the top strikers we targeted were ever going to come to us – Lacazette, Batshuayi, Bacca and the like. And here we are in January, once again pining after strikers that will never come to us, but this time for a different reason. This time it’s not the fact that we cannot hope to lure champions league players – we’re aiming much closer to the championship – but we are targeting players at clubs who simply do not want to sell…at least not right now.

Let’s start with the man who divides opinion. Jermain Defoe. A £6m bid touted, rejected out of hand. We then decide, however badly advised, to (allegedly) say “name your price”. Well, there was only ever going to be one outcome to that. “Priceless” says David Moyes and Sunderland, “Not for sale”. You Plonker. Did we really expect anything else? A £6m bid is a completely reasonable amount for a 34-year-old goal scorer who is albeit still banging them in at a regular rate, despite his age. But I genuinely don’t believe that even if we offered £15m-20m in this transfer window, as some suggest, that they would sell. Even with such a windfall, finding a striker in January to replace Defoe would not be likely and akin to suicide for the club already likely to be relegated. He is their only hope of survival. Now you could be forgiven for thinking I am against signing Mr Defoe – not at all, I think he is just what we need – but not right now for that price. We all know, despite what Sullivan says, he is not prepared to spend the money we ideally need to on strikers – past transfer windows have taught us this – and I say this as someone who is actually a fan of both his and Gold’s despite their several obvious downsides, including the current fan division they have unwittingly created over the new stadium (ask me my opinion on that some other time, if you will.) With this lack of real decisive funds in mind, if we were, as is most unlikely, to spend circa £15m on Defoe this window and in a parallel universe Sunderland were to accept – that’s our striker budget almost or completely gone. On a 34-year-old, albeit, good striker, who we will see no return on.

My suggestion is to do something we never do and actually play the long game, keeping our cards much closer to our chest. A difficult task when Mr Sullivan is more akin to a poker player who can’t help but smirk and giggle when he draws a winning hand. I am absolutely convinced that if we entered negotiations in the summer with Sunderland they would be willing to sell, for the £6m offered or maybe £10m at the most (in the current climate of overinflated fees) – a much more reasonable fee in any case. The reasons being, if they have been relegated Jermain is given a get out of jail free card and Sunderland won’t be in quite as strong a bargaining position to hold out for any more money. If they have been saved and remain in the premiership for another year, this will be most likely down to Defoe, in which case he can say “I’ve done my job, now I’m off” and still Sunderland will have got what they wanted – another year in the league, their January “priceless” stance validated for their striker – and be prepared to sell in the knowledge they have the whole season ahead of them to prepare for life without him. So a summer transfer bid sounds good, yes? Well except for the fact that still leaves us without the striker we need…

So what of our other targets? The two most widely reported are Brentford’s Scott Hogan and Celtic’s Moussa Dembele (Not the Spud). Both good choices – two young hungry strikers who are scoring goals for fun in their respective leagues. The only questions being, can they make the step up to the premier league and how quickly?

The former, Hogan, I would argue we will encounter the same or similar problems as with Defoe. Its January – the middle of a season – and although Brentford are not pushing for promotion nor fighting relegation, they are still under no pressure to sell for anything less than their required fee, which reports suggest are also around the £15m mark (we have offered £8m apparently) a huge chunk of our potential budget once again. Now unlike, Defoe, it is arguable that a £15m outlay for a promising young striker is chicken feed and I would be inclined to agree. But we come back to that problem I mentioned above. Can he make the step up? Very likely, but by no means guaranteed. More importantly, can he make the step up IMMEDIATELY? I would suggest we cannot take any Zaza-esque chances in this regard this time (though I would be loath to put the poor boy in the same category as the Italian). So for me, that’s another one out, at least until the summer, when he would have an entire pre-season to bed in with us and make the step up under less pressure.

As for the latter, Dembele. I can’t help but think this one is pie in the sky. The lad looks a real prospect. Only 20. Scores a bucket load for Celtic, who regularly play in the champions league, despite the argument that the Scottish League is incredibly inferior to ours. Why would the boy leave to come to us at the current juncture? Or even if he would, why would Celtic sell? They have absolutely no incentive to do so. If reports are true and we have bid £20m for him (not convinced personally but hey what do I know – the “insider” says so, therefore it must be kosher) and Celtic have laughed in our faces then we should back away. The boy may be worth £20m but he is still, despite his skill, an unknown quantity and the apparent £30-40m Celtic reportedly want bid before they will even come to the table to consider a transfer is far too rich for our (Sullivan’s) blood. Not for us I’m afraid. Not now, not in the summer, maybe in the future thereafter, but likely not at all.

I’ve gone and done it again, haven’t I? No strikers for us in January. Mangetout, Mangetout.

Actually, I do have one suggestion that has been mooted, but by the sounds of things not followed up by the club – who I think are missing a trick. Step forward, Mr Shane Long. People seem unsure about him, but I am happy to sing his praises if only to suggest that, in my humble opinion, he is the most sensible option available to us in this transfer window. The man is a proven premier league goal scorer who has scored wherever he’s gone, even when playing with some relatively talentless players with little service – tick. Although getting on, he’s not past it yet, and as he has slipped down the pecking order at Southampton, through no fault of his own, he is likely to be surplus to requirements and therefore actually available in January! And available for around £8-10m most likely. Big tick. He is a goal poacher, exactly what we need, to play either with Carroll or alone, and would most certainly make the most of the chances Payet and Lanzini create. I actually think he would find his best form with us considering the service our midfielders can potentially provide. Bonnet de douche Dominic! Tickedy tick tick.

Unlike Hogan or Dembele, Long would need no time to adjust to playing with us and start scoring. Something we sorely need if we are to buy in January. Unlike Defoe, his club would be willing to sell in this window, and for a relatively reasonable price as this would help fund their own transfer aims. And even if we disregard anything else, the thing that sells Long to me the most are these things – the fact that his transfer is achievable. Our summer business was blighted by chasing targets to the very deadline, which we could not and ultimately did not get. The last thing I want to see this window is us chasing the likes of Jermain Defoe to the 11th hour, when ultimately his club will just say – “no thanks” or “not in January anyway”. And there we are again, left with nobody. Long would prevent this. We could get the deal done now and swiftly.

Again this is not to say that we should not go for these other strikers at a later date. I personally believe that we should be bidding for Hogan – or some other achievable, good quality prospect or proven goal scorer in the summer. Would still love another crack at Batshuayi the bench warmer, but then perhaps we’re back to unrealistic – mustn’t gamble! And if by the time we reach the summer Shane Long has not proven he can do the business, then a bid for Jermain Defoe, for a reasonable price as suggested, would be a good bet as well as the likes of Hogan to bolster our strike force, as he still has real quality and seems to want to make amends if you believe such things.

In the meantime, you may ask is Long enough? I believe so and even if he isn’t I think its madness to suggest that the Daves are likely to splurge on more than one striker this window. I’d like that to happen but I just can’t see it myself, unless the transfer fees were lower than those currently touted. With recent reports suggesting current flops are likely to remain on the wage bill until the summer, they just won’t sanction that. And despite this I think we will have enough. If we were to get Long, we would have two decent strikers until February – he and Carroll (3 if you include Fletcher who in my opinion we should definitely not sell or put out on loan if we are only to get one new striker in. We will need him.) When AFCON ends Ayew will return, who I actually rate. I know he hasn’t shown his worth as yet, due to injury etc, but I believe he will do so. His biggest failing his not his own fault – the fact the Dave’s spent a whopping £20m on his signature – hugely overpriced – and the fact they then tried to pass him off as our marquee striker, when we know that he is an attacking midfielder/winger/second striker type player who will score goals for us if given time and in the right role. Ayew’s tenure at Swansea and in France tells us that. (I personally would like to see him moved to the left side of a front 3 where Payet normally is and put Payet in the centre behind the striker but hey ho). So there’s another forward option there. In March or thereafter we may well see the return of Sakho also, who despite all his problems, has something to prove and scores when he’s fit. In my opinion, these players with the addition of Long would push us through to the summer, when more quality reinforcements would be necessary so we no longer have to rely on those who are injury prone and this tactic would be much more realistic.

An £8-10m outlay now for guaranteed goals, with another 15-20m potentially awaiting a top quality option in the summer?
Or…
A £20m outlay now for an unproven commodity or 34-year-old (if they even did sell!) which eats up almost all of our budget so when the summer rolls around we find we can’t bolster further as we hear the cries of FFP etc…etc.. we all detest so much… Let’s not even discuss our need for a new RB or potentially even a goalkeeper in this miniscule budget…Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems. (I’m down with the kids). We need to be canny with our money and our mouths for once.

Now, I’m not a businessperson…but looking at those potential two options, I’d know which I’d choose, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

And as Del Boy would say – you know it makes sense!


Talking Point

Papering over the cracks: still waiting for a big league win in January

Last season, Slaven Bilic was the giant killer: victories at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool; home wins against Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool once more. I don’t think anyone expected last year to be matched like for like: new managers and more money meant most of the top clubs came back stronger. But did anyone expect this come January? It is a complete reversal, and what’s more worrying, that reversal doesn’t look like itself reversing.

At least Bilic has changed one thing: he can beat the weaker sides. No win against Norwich last season, a big defeat against Swansea, and a draw against bottom side Aston Villa showed an inability to kill off lesser clubs. The club has seen off Crystal Palace, Burnley, Bournemouth, Hull City and Swansea. Four of those were 1-0 wins, the other was an emphatic 4-1 against Bob Bradley’s Swansea City. He was sacked soon after.

This season is already forgettable. And nothing will change that: we will not get into Europe and I think a top ten finish is still far off. For a year that was meant to be full of promise after the success of last season and the excitement of a new stadium, this is surely the worst outcome for all of us. The fans have been sold short, the owners have been found wanting.

The game against Manchester City was not just an embarrassing team performance: it was an embarrassment all round. So much has been made in recent months of the media conspiracy against West Ham: all they [journalists] want to focus on is the violence, the teething troubles. On Friday, there was no violence, there was no bad media surrounding the ground or the club leading up to the kick-off. It was there on a plate for the club and owners to give their best: show the ground and the team at its best. They both utterly failed. The performance was tepid, just like every other game this season bar Chelsea in the League Cup. That led to talk of the new stadium and its problems. The media is not against the move, but if West Ham continue to perform so meekly – one writer called it a “non-performance” – then obviously talk will focus on the stadium and whether that is part of the problem.

As someone who supported Big Sam and was against his departure, I was happy to admit my mistake last year as we outperformed expectations and anything that Allardyce had ever achieved. But to go from losing 5-0 against Nottingham Forest three years ago in the FA Cup to losing 5-0 again against Manchester City, seems to lack any sign of progress. Yes, City are a much bigger and better squad, but the team Bilic played was a better first team squad than Allardyce’s youngsters. Allardyce focused on the league, Bilic focused on the Cup – and both outcomes were the same. The game against Crystal Palace, against Big Sam no less, becomes ever more important.

Many of us including myself expected us to give City a run for their money. Why? Because we expect it on the basis of last season and because we’re West Ham, we like a giant killing and we like a good Cup run. But it made me realise that this season has seen a majority of poor performances, with the occasional win [Accrington Stanley] or wins [Burnley, Hull, Swansea] used as a boost and made to seem like a turnaround. There has been no turnaround. We are still leaking goals. We are still playing dire football. Nothing has arguably changed enough since the beginning of the season to make me believe anything will change over the next few months. That puts a hell of a lot of pressure on this January transfer window to alter the course of this season.

Perhaps the City game is what the club, the manager and the team needed: no longer are we hiding behind other teams who are performing badly. We became an embarrassing headline and maybe that might force a realisation among the players. What worries me is that every other club around us has either improved or made a change: Hull, Swansea, Palace have ousted their managers. Sunderland have made great strides, Burnley have a strong home form, Middlesbrough have put in good performances, as have Watford. We, for me, remain an anomaly: no change, no passion, and no desire to turn this season around.

The Palace game is geared up to be a big one. But with Allardyce still waiting eagerly for his first win as Palace manager, I fear he may get it at the London Stadium.


Talking Point

We must become more United, West Ham.

OK, most my posts so far have been as a reaction to an awful defeat… So here we go again. apologies in advance. I’ll try and end it well… 

We conceded 4 goals in 14 minutes against Arsenal at the start of December.
We conceded 4 goals in 17 minutes against Manchester City in the FA Cup.
We’ve conceded 35 goals in the league so far, scoring 23. 

Our manager looks depressed and seems to have run out of ideas. 

So who (or what) is to blame?

Slaven blamed the players. 
Someone blamed the coaching staff
Half the West Ham faithful blame the stadium move. 
Some of us blame Slaven. 
Many of us blame the board (most of us?)
Lots of us blame summer signing flops …

Noone has talked about the new training facilities. Slaven wanted that to feel like a home, where players could feel comfortable, bring their families, who could stay. Maybe thats part of this attitude issue – we’re too comfotable and not pushed in training. Maybe we’ve become a social club…

I’d say its a bit of all of the above, but I don’t want to get into a blame game. That just makes me write even more negatively!

I wrote a post some time ago about our passion on the pitch which seems to still be non existent apart from a handful of players (Reid should keep that Captain’s armband in my opinion), which was followed by several other posts of a similar frustration.

Mike Ireson’s post here sums up many of my frustrations after Manchester City in the FA cup too. 
We lose a goal, heads go down, we lose another 3 in 17 minutes. 

Against Arsenal, 1–0 down at half time, still in the match, then Sanchez makes light work of us, 11 passes, runs round the defence and we’re 2–0 down, heads down, lucky goal by Carrol later, but 5–1 down 14 minutes later. 

Where to turn next?
SJ wrote a recent article on the importance of the January transfer window. It really is vital. We need to do better business. But so far we’re a laughing stock. Twitter, Four Four Two, even Buzzfeed are mocking us in articles and galleries of ‘players we tried to (apparently) get’. 

We’re a football club that feels like we’ve lost our way somewhat. Fans are disillusioned with what the vision is. The board are playing at being a bigshot board, and losing. Players are hot and cold on performance. Ms Brady has “ended the Insider column” on the official site. Let’s be honest Karen, that’s the least of our problems right now. 

We need to resolve this attitude and passion issue on the pitch, and in my opinion, it’s vital we get in a solid rightback with premier league experience and someone who can actually finish in front of goal. Someone (sorry I couldn’t find it) wrote in a recent article on WHTID asking why can all the fans see lots of the problems, but Slaven and coaching staff seem oblivious to them. That does worry me too, he admits we have problems, but seems to carry on experimenting and nothing seems to be getting done.

I honestly don’t think a new manager will help, but where we or Slaven turn next who knows.

But more positively…
Now, on a more positive angle, lets forget the FA Cup. Who needs that distraction anyway. :-). What we must remember is that football really can change so quickly, as we’ll hopefully see in the league over the coming weeks. We’re currently 13th in the league, playing relatively poorly and inconsistently, but still scraping some lucky results…but we’re 13th! Could be top 10 in a few weeks. Some comparison stats for you for this stage last season and now.

comparison stats for league game 20, 2015/16 - 2016/17

The most interesting one I felt on this was that we’ve had almost half as many goals from set pieces this time last year than this season. When I first came across this I was confused – but Payet… surely he scored more. Surely he was our saviour last year from set pieces and that surely couldn’t be beaten this year in our current state?

Then I remembered Antonio. And it’s not just about Payet…

Can the fans help?
Now, of course we’re not to blame for the current fortunes, but we’re a huge part of a great club, and it’s as much our job to get behind the great club we all love as it is to criticise it, slate the manager, get on the players backs and cringe at the ridiculous ways that we become a joke every transfer window (my post summed up there). 

But its also our responsibility to stand with them when its going so bad, to stay to the end, not just to the 50th minute, no matter how hard it is to watch goal after goal fly in.
Yes we’re shocking at the back way too regularly at the moment, but we must get behind our team. I was gutted when so many white seats appeared so early against Manchester City. I hate watching us lose as much as the next, but we must stand with them. Protest, get your banners out, create more chants like "you’re nothing special, we lose every week’ to make light of it on a cold wet night under the lights, but lets get behind them. We All Love West Ham.

Whether Sullivan and Gold believe it or not, West Ham IS about the fans. The heart and soul of West Ham United FC, is about the dads and sons, mums and daughters, grandads, brothers, sisters and mates, passionate about the claret and blue. Back at Upton Park when we rose up in noise it was incredible, and I too am yet to feel that same feeling at the LS. I don’t know if I will. But we’ve moved now, and whilst many of us still can’t get heads round it or don’t want to be there, WE are West Ham and we must stand up and be counted (although probably you might have to sit, as the stewards will tell you off).

Slaven said in his press conference after the FA Cup defeat ’Its hard to feel positive". Yes it really is, but we have to dig deep. As fans and as a team. Together. West Ham. United.

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Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Manchester City

West Ham v Manchester City
FA Cup Third Round
Olympic Stadium
KO 7.55pm
TV: BBC 1
Radio: talkSport

Man City Starting XI

Please comment on the match as it progresses.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: West Ham v Man City

Blast from the past

West Ham United have met Manchester City in the FA Cup on four previous occasions, including one replay. The first of these meetings was in the fourth round at Maine Road in front of 26,495 on the 25th January 1998. Usher was number one with ‘You Make Me Wanna’ and Titanic had just been released in UK cinemas as the Premier League Hammers emerged victorious against the First Division Sky Blues with a 2-1 win. Future City schemer Eyal Berkovic gave the Hammers the lead in the 28th minute but Georgi Kinkladze scored a stunning solo goal to equalise just before the hour mark. West Ham captain and former City midfielder Steve Lomas notched the winner in the 76th minute, driving home a loose ball from the edge of the penalty area. Iain Dowie made his final appearance in claret and blue as an 87th-minute substitute.

The Hammers progressed to the fifth round, where they beat Blackburn on penalties in a replay, but would be knocked out by eventual Premier League and FA Cup Double winners Arsenal in a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat after a barnstorming Quarter-Final Replay at the Boleyn. Lomas was voted runner-up to Rio Ferdinand in the Hammer of the Year voting.

Manchester City: Tommy Wright, Richard Edghill, Ian Brightwell, Kit Symons, Murtaz Shelia, Georgi Kinkladze, Michael Brown, Jeff Whitley, Uwe Rosler, Paul Dickov, Craig Russell.

West Ham United: Craig Forrest, Steve Potts, Rio Ferdinand, David Unsworth (Tim Breacker), Ian Pearce, Frank Lampard, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Stan Lazaridis, Samassi Abou (Iain Dowie), John Hartson.

Aside from this fourth round victory in 1998, West Ham’s remaining FA Cup record against Manchester City is as follows:

2006 – Man City 1-2 West Ham (Quarter-Final)
2008 – West Ham 0-0 Man City (3rd round)
2008 – Man City 1-0 West Ham (3rd round replay)

Club Connections

A large group of players have turned out for West Ham United and Manchester City. Divided by playing position, they include:

Goalkeepers – David James, Perry Suckling.

Defenders – Wayne Bridge, Stuart Pearce, Tal Ben Haim, Tyrone Mears.

Midfielders – Marc-Vivien Foe, Kevin Horlock, Mark Ward, Eyal Berkovic, Steve Lomas, Frank Lampard Junior, Michael Hughes, Ian Bishop, Trevor Sinclair.

Strikers – Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy, Phil Woosnam, Justin Fashanu, Trevor Morley, Paulo Wanchope, Clive Allen, David Cross, George Webb.

Malcolm Allison and John Bond join Stuart Pearce as West Ham players who have gone on to manage City.

Today’s focus though is on an Israeli international who excelled with the Hammers for two seasons in the late ‘90s before later joining City in 2001. Eyal Berkovic began his career with Maccabi Haifa in 1989, winning a league and cup double in 1991 before moving to Southampton on a season-long loan in 1996. He announced himself on the Premier League stage by scoring twice and providing three assists in a 6-3 win over Manchester United at The Dell.

Harry Redknapp swooped to sign Berkovic for West Ham United for £1.75m in the summer of 1997, beating Tottenham in securing the deal. Berkovic’s Upton Park career got off to a flying start, scoring what proved to be the winning goal ironically against Tottenham in a 2-1 home victory for the Hammers on 13th August 1997 and finishing the month with a goal in the 3-1 home win over Wimbledon. Berkovic also scored the winning goal as the Hammers beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Boleyn Ground the following month and struck again in the 3-0 win over Bolton. His first away goal came in a 2-1 defeat at Leicester before he netted in a 4-1 triumph over Crystal Palace. Only one league goal was to follow after Christmas, in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday, but the classy playmaker made his mark on the Hammers’ run to the FA Cup quarter-finals, scoring in the 2-1 fourth round win at Manchester City and in the 2-2 home draw with Blackburn in the next round. Berkovic saw his penalty saved by Arsenal’s Alex Manninger as the Gunners won through to the semi-finals via a dramatic sudden-death penalty shoot-out, which also saw John Hartson and Samassi Abou hit the post with their spot-kicks.

1998/99 saw Berkovic notch three goals – another winner against Liverpool at Upton Park as the Hammers triumphed 2-1, a strike at The Valley as Charlton defeated the Hammers 4-2 and a sweeping finish from a Paolo Di Canio cutback against Derby in a 5-1 home win. The season was marred by a training ground incident which saw Berkovic kicked in the head by Hartson. His final game in claret and blue saw him have a hand in all four goals as the Hammers beat Middlesbrough 4-0 to secure fifth place in the Premier League and InterToto Cup qualification. Berkovic had joined the club soon after a relegation fight but his two seasons in east London saw the club record two top-eight finishes, the latter remaining our second highest-ever league finish of fifth. Having played a crucial creative role, providing numerous assists from his attacking midfield position, Berkovic signed for John Barnes’ Celtic in the summer of 1999 for £5.75m. He had scored 12 goals in 79 appearances in all competitions for West Ham United.

After two years in Glasgow, which included a loan spell at Blackburn, Berkovic signed for newly-relegated Manchester City in the summer of 2001 for £1.5m. Part of an attacking formation under Kevin Keegan, Berkovic scored in his first game at Maine Road in a 3-0 win against Watford. The Sky Blues went on to win the First Division (now Championship) title, recording 99 points and registering 108 goals. Berkovic was instrumental in a 3-1 Manchester derby triumph the following season as City established themselves back in the Premier League and was voted the 2002/03 player of the season by the club’s magazine.

After a fallout with Keegan and having scored 7 goals in 56 league appearances for City, Berkovic rejoined his former manager Redknapp at Portsmouth in January 2004. He helped his new employers to beat City 4-2 on his debut but, a year later, decided to return to his home country, signing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Berkovic announced his retirement from playing in May 2006 at the age of 34. Now 44, Berkovic has managed Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Tel-Aviv and is currently the owner of Hapoel Rishon LeZion.

Referee

The referee on Friday will be Michael Oliver. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Oliver has refereed eight of our league matches, officiating in two wins for the Hammers and six defeats.

Oliver was the man in the middle for the Irons’ 2-0 reverse at Chelsea two seasons ago and also sent off Kevin Nolan at Anfield three seasons ago. His only Hammers appointments last season were for the 2-1 home victory over Southampton in December and the 4-1 home defeat to Swansea in May.

Possible line-ups

West Ham United have Alvaro Arbeloa, Arthur Masuaku, Gokhan Tore and Diafra Sakho on the injury list. Sam Byram, Reece Oxford and James Collins are back in training. Slaven Bilic is boosted by the availability of Sofiane Feghouli but is without Cheikhou Kouyate and Andre Ayew.

Manchester City are expected to be without the injured Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane. Pep Guardiola, who has stated he will not rotate with the tie away to a Premier League side, is also without the suspended Fernandinho.

Possible West Ham United XI: Adrian; Nordtveit, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Payet; Carroll.

Possible Manchester City XI: Bravo; Sagna, Otamendi, Stones, Clichy; Toure; Navas, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling; Aguero.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!

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