Dan Coker's Match Preview
Blast from the past
2nd November 1991 – U2 were number one with ‘The Fly’, Homicide was in UK cinemas and, three days later, Robert Maxwell was found dead at the age of 68. Meanwhile, Billy Bonds’ West Ham United were sealing a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in front of 33,539 at Highbury.
George Graham’s First Division champions, including future Hammers Ian Wright and Nigel Winterburn, put their newly-promoted visitors under pressure in the first half but the Hammers started to have breakaway moments in the second period, in a match which was Michael Thomas’ last in the Gunners’ midfield before his switch to Liverpool. Anders Limpar saw a dipping volley from the edge of the penalty area tipped over by ‘Ludo’ Miklosko after the interval while Mike Small’s stinging effort from Kevin Keen’s pass was touched over by David Seaman at the other end. 29-year-old Small, a £400,000 summer signing from Brighton, went into this game having scored 12 goals in his first 18 matches as a Hammer.
As the game started to open up, the Irons went in front through their in-form striker Small (pictured). Fellow summer recruit, left-back Mitchell Thomas, emerged with the ball from a scramble on the edge of the Hammers’ box and carried forward beyond halfway before finding marauding right-back Tim Breacker. He played a one-two with captain Ian Bishop and passed inside to Small on the edge of the Gunners’ penalty area. Small turned away from his markers before firing a blistering left-foot drive beyond the dive of Seaman and into the Clock End net in front of the visiting Claret and Blue Army.
Arsenal pressed for an equaliser in the final ten minutes but the Hammers still had their moments on the counter attack with the pace of Stuart Slater a constant threat. Slater broke down the right late on and found Keen with a great chance to double the lead but his effort could only bobble wide. The action from this game, including Small’s winner and an interview with West Ham centre-half Tony Gale, can be viewed in my video below.
The Gunners would finish fourth in 1991/92, while the Hammers would end the campaign bottom and relegated. Leeds won the league and Liverpool won the FA Cup. Small would end the campaign as the Hammers’ top scorer with 18 goals from 51 matches. Julian Dicks, who didn’t return from a serious knee injury until December, was voted Hammer of the Year, with Steve Potts runner-up.
Arsenal: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Colin Pates, Andy Linighan, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Merson, Michael Thomas (Perry Groves), David Rocastle, Anders Limpar, Ian Wright, Alan Smith.
West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Tony Gale, Mitchell Thomas, Kevin Keen, George Parris, Ian Bishop, Stuart Slater, Mike Small, Frank McAvennie.
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: 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, Luis Boa Morte, 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 former goalkeeper for both the Gunners and the Hammers. Charles James Ambler was born on the 13th August 1868 in Alverstoke, Hampshire and began his career at Bostall Rovers before signing for Royal Arsenal in 1891, shortly before they turned professional and were renamed Woolwich Arsenal. As an amateur, he also turned out for Clapton, Dartford and Luton.
After struggling to make it with the Gunners, Ambler became part of a select club to swap Arsenal for Tottenham in the summer of 1894 but he returned to Woolwich Arsenal in November 1895. He made his only league appearance for Arsenal in a 5-1 Second Division defeat to Newton Heath (the club who went on to be Manchester United) on 30th November 1895. He again left Arsenal for Tottenham in the summer of 1896, remaining with Spurs for four years before joining Gravesend United in 1900. He was shortly on the move again, this time to New Brompton (the club now known as Gillingham) before signing for West Ham United in 1901.
Ambler (pictured) was reserve team goalkeeper with the Hammers but won a place in the limelight almost by default when an administrative mistake meant the Irons were to host Tottenham in a Southern League match at the Memorial Grounds on the same day as welcoming Leyton for an FA Cup third qualifying match. With the prospect of larger gate receipts from the league game, West Ham ceded home advantage in the Cup and sent the reserves to Leyton – the league was taking priority over the cup even back at the start of the 20th century! 33-year-old Ambler kept a clean sheet in the match at Leyton on his competitive West Ham debut in a 1-0 win on 2nd November 1901 while the first team lost to Spurs by the same scoreline at the Memorial Grounds in the league.
As a consequence, the West Ham management decided to rest regular custodian Hughie Monteith for the next league match, with Ambler making his only Southern League appearance for the Hammers the following week against QPR, on 9th November 1901. The Irons lost 2-1 at Rangers’ Latimer Road home in North Kensington – incidentally, the West Ham side had to change in the Latimer Arms pub and run down the road to the pitch! It was to prove to be Ambler’s second and last competitive appearance for West Ham United. Monteith was back in goal the following week when the first team were dumped out of the FA Cup at home by Essex village side Grays.
Ambler joined Millwall at the end of the 1901/02 season, his only campaign with the Hammers. In later life he changed his name to Charles James Toby – Charles Ambler passed away in 1952 at the age of either 83 or 84.
Sunday’s referee will be Lee Mason from Greater Manchester. Mason’s three games officiating the Hammers this season have all ended in defeat. Most recently, he took charge of our 3-0 home defeat to Burnley last month, while the other two matches were both 3-2 defeats: at Southampton in August when he failed to send off Dusan Tadic but did give Marko Arnautovic a red card, before awarding the Saints a match-winning penalty in added time; and against Newcastle at home in December when he awarded the Hammers a penalty only for Andre Ayew’s effort to be saved. Mason refereed the Hammers once in 2016/17 – the 1-0 home win over Hull when he awarded the Hammers a match-winning penalty – but took charge of two West Ham matches the previous season, those being the 0-0 draw at Swansea in December 2015 and the 3-0 win at West Brom in April 2016.
He refereed three Premier League matches involving the Hammers in 2014/15 – the 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, the 1-0 home win over Sunderland and the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford when he sent off Wayne Rooney, denied the Hammers a penalty when Morgan Amalfitano’s cross struck Radamel Falcao’s arm and disallowed Kevin Nolan’s last-minute strike for a marginal offside. Mason was also the man in the middle for our 1-0 FA Cup win at Bristol City in January 2015. He also officiated in four of our games in 2013/14, sending off two of our players (Mark Noble against Everton and James Tomkins at Cardiff) and disallowing a perfectly good Stewart Downing equaliser at Crystal Palace. He also sent off Mark Noble at Birmingham in December 2009.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who announced yesterday that he will step down in the summer after 22 years as Gunners boss, will be without the injured Santi Cazorla and Henrikh Mkhitaryan while Jack Wilshere faces a late fitness test. Aaron Ramsey is available after a shin injury. Wenger may make changes with Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg at home against Atletico Madrid in mind – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied for that match so is likely to face the Hammers instead, having scored six goals in his opening eight Premier League games for Arsenal.
West Ham United are without Sam Byram, Winston Reid, James Collins, Pedro Obiang and Michail Antonio. Italian centre-half Angelo Ogbonna faces a late fitness test on a knee injury. The Hammers have scored in each of their last nine away league games, their joint-longest run in a single Premier League season since 1999/00. David Moyes has never won a match in league or cup away to Arsenal, either at Highbury or The Emirates. West Ham’s tally of five Premier League victories at Arsenal is bettered only by Manchester United (eight) and Liverpool (seven).
Possible Arsenal XI: Cech; Chambers, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Xhaka, Elneny; Iwobi, Willock, Aubameyang; Lacazette.
Possible West Ham United XI: Hart; Zabaleta, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Masuaku; Kouyate, Noble, Mario; Lanzini, Arnautovic.
Enjoy the game – Up The Hammers!