Player Analysis

Havard Nordtveit Finally Comes Good - Watch Out Mark Noble!

I was quite excited when I heard we had signed the Borussia Moenchengladbach captain, Havard Nordtveit. What was not to like? People don’t become captain of their side without having something about them. And he could play in a variety of positions. Just the sort of player we needed. Or so I thought.

In pre-season he looked totally out of sorts. As the season started he didn’t improve. Every performance was terrible. He looked hapless. What a turkey, we all thought. But there was a nagging doubt in my mind. He mainly played at right back and once or twice in central defence. But wasn’t he a central midfielder? Wasn’t that his preferred position? Clearly with Kouyate, Noble and Obiang playing well, he didn’t get a look in there. Until Saturday.

Against Everton I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if Nordtveit had become a different player. Cool, calm and tenacious. Spraying balls over the field. Running with the ball. Attacking. Shooting. He wasn’t far off being my man of the match. On that performance he deserves to keep his place and the chance to show us more of what he can do.

Mark Noble is under real pressure. Edimilson Fernandes, and now Nordtveit, have shown that there is real competition for the second central midfield space. And that is surely only a good thing.

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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

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Match Thread

Match Thread: Sunderland v West Ham

Sunderland v West Ham
FA Premier League
KO 3pm
TV: None
Radio: WHUFC.com

Sunderland Starting XI

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Lineup Prediction

Lineup Prediction: Sunderland v West Ham

If you’re reading this on your way to the Stadium of Light, so join in a chant on the five minute mark. West Ham supporters are being encouraged to sing “Bradley Lowery’s Claret & Blue Army”. Bradley is the little boy who Jermain Defoe has befriended. He’s got cancer and there’s a fundraising campaign to help him get specialist treatment unavailable in this country. More details on Claret & Hugh

Subs: Adrian, Rice, Cresswell, Calleri, Snodgrass, Fletcher, Nordtveit

If Harry Redknapp were West Ham’s manager today he’d be complaining about being down to the bare bones. Wide midfield is the only area where the team doesn’t pick itself because of injury or suspension.

In defence Sam Byram has recovered from his ankle injury and Aaron Cresswell is fit again, although I suspect he wil find it difficult to dislodge the impressive Arthur Masuaku. Indeed, it would unfair if he did.

Up front mystery surrounds Diafra Sakho. Despite being passed fit to play, he hasn’t travelled with the team. Quite bizarre as I suspect he may have got a start. Hopefully he’s not up to his old tricks.

In midfield Edimilson Fernandes will get a well deserved start alongside Kouyate as Mark Noble starts a two game suspension. Fernandes has impressed hugely in the games he has played in and deserves his chance. He’s one of those players who, once in the side, may be very difficult to dislodge. Bilic has already said that they have big plans for him next season.

Assuming Andy Carroll starts up front, which in itself is always a big assumption (!), it’s two from three with Ayew, Snodgrass and Feghouli vying for a place in the eleven. I predict Snodgrass may be the one to lose out.

Youngster Declan Rice travels with the squad as cover in central defence. he’s unlikely to start, but you never know.

Three points today and we reach 39 points and will probably climb back into the top half. We have some very tricky games coming up, so getting something out of this game is a must. Sunderland haven’t won for gazillions of games. But it would be just our luck if they turned us over today, wouldn’t it?

A lot of eyes will be on the performance of Sunderland central defender Kone. He is being linked with a transfer to us in the summer. My question is this: why on earth would be interested in a defender from a relegated team, when it has already shipped 56 goals. Admittedly, that’s one less than us. Similar arguments surround our apparent interest in their young keeper Jordan Pickford. It’s a funny old world.

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Talking Point

What Price Loyalty?

Guest Post by Paul Hickin

The term “loyalty” is thrown about as an intrinsic good. Some fans could have the L word tattooed onto their forehead such is its importance. And if us fans don’t think someone possesses – Defoe, Ince, Payet or whoever – rightly or wrongly, they are often cast out in a medieval-like boo-hiss. It seems so relevant to West Ham right now. Not only because of the aforementioned players and whether Mark Noble can criticize ‘us fans’ , but because of the other side of the coin.

What about our loyalty? Should we show loyalty to Slav after the team’s recent slide? Should we show it to Mark given his poor season? Or does the team come first always? The practical side would debate whether Slav is good enough, pure and simple. Or Mark. But this isn’t about whether we trust Slav/Mark but whether we should be loyal to them and to what extent? Should our loyalty to these mean they get a little more leeway?

Remember the days when managers actually went down with the clubs only to get them promoted the following season again? Now there is so much money in the premier league that owners can ill afford the luxury of loyalty. But what about you? Surely we can’t have it both ways: players/managers need to have loyalty but a wobbly season and out you go!

Now for some of us, football is a job and players should maximize their careers. Why should they show loyalty at all? Maybe only respect is needed and moving on in the right way. As arguably Slav did when he left us. Or Tomkins did when he wanted regular football at centre back. Or if the club decides to cash in on a player (for the greater good hopefully). But for those fans who demand loyalty, how much do you expect to provide in return?

Surely being “loyal” to West Ham doesn’t count as that is all part of having skin in the game. If you decided to switch clubs rather than be loyal to the Hammers, then your footballing enjoyment would be superficial and futile, albeit rather successful. But success is so transient and those fans seeking that in its pure form are surely missing the point and that will only lead to misery. The only way your loyalty is measurable is how much you give to those in the club that deserve it, no? Or does our loyalty to the (symbolic idea of the) club trump our loyalty to certain individuals?

On the flipside, Slav could be suffering from his loyalty to Payet (building his team around him etc), to Noble, to Cresswell, et al this season. In the same way Ranieri suffered at Leicester and was not afforded the same such loyalty by the owners who pressed the panic button and which seems to have worked out well at least for this season. Do the Leicester fans feel dirty but happy that the Tinkerman is gone or just relieved that results have turned.

As the voices grow louder among a section of the fans for Slav to go, what is the price, cost and value of loyalty? For me, loyalty goes both ways and Slav deserves the chance to build his team despite mistakes he has made, not only because a huge of host of challenges he has had to face this season which weren’t his doing, but because loyalty to those who are part of the West Ham family is “the West Ham way”.

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