My West Ham Story

The Partly Unknown Impact of the Austrians

I started to write this on the plane back to my home town Vienna, just having spent an extended weekend in London and watching West Ham for the second time this season. The first game had been the defeat against Wolves at the end of August, and now I have been able to watch West Ham’s convincing 4-2 win over Burnley last Saturday. One bad game, one good game, and the revelation of what a so far underperforming player can do in the respective second match – that seems to be the pattern of my West Ham Story last season as well as this year.

WHU v Wolves

Last season I also had been able to attend two live games in autumn, and interestingly, this year is following the same pattern as the last one: my first game was dreadful (last term losing to Liverpool 1-4) and this year’s first game was nothing better: it was the fourth league game of the season and turned out to be West Ham’s fourth consecutive defeat with the Hammers conceding in the dying minutes, losing out 0-1 to Wolves in the London Stadium.

But like last year, this game turned out to be the last one in a series of disappointments, and things started to get better afterwards. Last year I had witnessed Slaven Bilic’s last game in charge, and soon afterwards his successor David Moyes engineered Marko Arnautovic’s metamorphosis into West Ham’s most prolific striker for years and eventually secured West Ham’s Premier League survival.

WHU v Burnley

Marko Arnautovic evolving into “Arnie”,, Hammer of the Year

After the disappointment in the first game, the following journey to the British capital last year gave me the opportunity to come back to London Stadium for a second game of last season, against Chelsea. And much to my delight, the presence of his fellow Austrians in the West Stand must have inspired Marko Arnautovic who had had a disappointing start into his spell with the club. The Austrian not only scored his first goal for West Ham against Chelsea and jumped into the crowd like Carlos Tevez had done a decade earlier at Upton Park, but he went on to deliver, starting from that game, what West Ham had expected of him when he was signed for a record fee in the summer. And finally “Arnie” deservedly won the “Hammer of the Year” award.

Well, and this year? When date proposals were made for a law symposium in London that I was going to participate in, the 2nd of November turned out to be the day of the event – a date which luckily coincided with a West Ham home game on the Saturday afterwards. That made it possible to come over again to spur on an other “record signing” this year who had come under some criticism for failing to play up to his potential so far.

Playing like strangers

Back in August in the Wolves game, the West Ham players, and especially Felipe Anderson, had played as if they were strangers not understanding one another. They were somehow strolling around the pitch on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon, lacking any urgency which would have been necessary to beat a newly promoted team in one of the first games of the season. Our new Brazilian marquee player from Lazio Rome showed only rare glimpses of what he might be able to do, and almost all his passes and runs led to Nothing. In my opinion he played much too deep and was too slow in going forward wide left, with the other players not able to anticipate where he would pass the ball or want to get it from his teammates.

But also this year after a very disappointing start (which we had not expected after the appointment of a high profile manager and massive funds invested in the squad), something better was just around the corner: like last year, the deplorable outcome of my first visit to the London Stadium wasn’t followed by other poor performances and results, but instead the “Pellegrini revolution” finally broke clear at last, West Ham turned the corner and went on a run of three wins and a draw – before undeservedly losing away to Brighton, and (more deservedly) losing twice to London rivals Spurs in the Premier League and the League Cup.

Because of this setback the Burnley match had become another “must win game” and I was only cautiously optimistic that the Hammers would get back to winning ways.

Especially I did not expect that another part of my narrative of the last season was going to be repeated in 2018. As I said before, last year our record signing Marko Arnautovic had not performed well until my second visit to London, and also this year, though a first goal had been scored by Felipe Anderson in September against Manchester Utd, our current “record signing” still had failed to deliver, much like Arnie had done in his first games last year.

Felipe Anderson

Felipe on the up at last

But as we had been able to watch Arnautovic’s first goal and the start of a very successful season for the Austrian last year, we now were very lucky to be able to witness Felipe Anderson’s best game by far since his arrival! So West Ham really was lucky – or must I say: I had been lucky – that I was able to come to London for a second time earlier than last year! Hence we did not have to wait until December until West Ham’s £36 million signing started to justify the amount West Ham has paid for him to Lazio in the summer. Anderson scored twice and played a large part in the Irons’ so far best game of the season, an important and much deserved 4-2 win. He linked up very well in the process with promising youngster Grady Diangana (who still has to make a choice, if he would want to play for England or the Democratic Republic of Congo) and with “Arnie from Austria” (who is already irreplaceable in Austria’s national team, and of course at West Ham).

Anderson Arnie

Well, that said – with tongue-in-cheek of course – I think West Ham should not underestimate the impact which two Austrians have on the run of the season: one of them on the pitch, Marko Arnautovic, and an other one in the West Stand whose mere presence in the crowd each year on his second visit to the London Stadium seems to inspire, unconsciously of course, a particular kind of player: the one that has been earmarked as West Ham’s new star player in the respective season, but has not been able to find his feet in the London Stadium so far. This year: Senhor Felipe Anderson.

Therefore never underestimate the (partly unknown) contribution of the Austrians!
Come on you Irons!


Talking Point

The Pursuit of Optimism

“The point of living, and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe that the best is yet to come.” As supporters of West Ham United, time and time again, we‘re “blowing bubbles”, and every year we’re foolish enough to believe that this season will be different from the preceding ones.

But after a bad start into the new season with two defeats in two games, and now a difficult away game against Arsenal imminent, it’s not easy to stay optimistic for another week or two, and live according to the above mentioned conception once enunciated by Sir Peter Ustinov. And furthermore, as West Ham fans, the exent of our optimism is limited anyway. We know that bubbles “fade and die”.

To raise the mood after the heavy defeat to Liverpool in the season opener, West Ham‘s club captain tried to give the preparation for last Saturday’s game against Bournemouth a spin in to an optimistic direction by stating that “our season starts now”. And of course we would have been all but happy to be made forget, through a convincing win at home, that there had been a minor unpleasant fact the weekend before, losing 0-4 on the road. Albeit, as we know, it wasn’t to be … and this season has already started with not only one, but two defeats, 6 goals conceded and not any goal scored from open play. And skipper Mark Noble is tipped to lose his place in the starting eleven for West Ham’s trip to the Emirates.

Well, so much optimism had been around the place during pre-season when West Ham’s board at last started to deliver on the promises they made when West Ham left Upton Park and moved to the Olympic Stadium: a high profile manager was installed in Manuel Pellegrini who has won the Premier League and two League Cups with Manchester City, and investment into the squad was made timely and to a significant amount. Only a few clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea, have invested more than West Ham’s almost £100m. And this ýear, transfer deadline day which unusually took place before the start of the season, was not awaited by the West Ham faithful with anguished expectation and grave concern about the board failing to make respectable signings. This summer the common feeling was that on deadline day we might just get some icing added to the cake – a cake that already seemed to be a very tasteful one. We couldn’t wait to get the season started!

But optimism has vanished quickly with just two games into the season. We self-ironically thanked Huddersfield on Sunday evening that we weren’t bottom of the table anymore, and in all the West Ham Forums we’re discussing the reasons for this failed start and still have not come to a conclusion. The level headed ones say the team takes time to gel, the angry ones say the players are lazy and didn’t care on Saturday, and the ones that have had a closer look might point to the fact that the new gaffer has changed the system of playing. Therefore it will not only take time until the new players have accomodated and developed a common understanding; also the ones who have already been here last season will need time to adapt to the ideas of the new manager who wants to defend higher and let his team play a “possession game”. Well, in my opinion Manuel Pellegrini (if he’s successful) could make West Ham play that cultivated attacking style again which once was part of the “West Ham way”, a long, long time ago. Though I’m yet a bit sceptical because Pelle had already been able to work with the majority of the squad including most of the new players all pre-season, yet the defence looked as if they hadn’t played together before.

Last season I was able to come over from Austria to London on three occasions to attend West Ham games. The first one was in November, Slaven Bilic‘s last match, the 1-4 defeat to Liverpool; the second one in December was the 1-0 victory over Chelsea with fellow-Austrian Marko Arnautovic‘s first goal for the Hammers – two turning points of the last campaign! And finally I was able to watch the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, after which we flew home feeling sure that West Ham would avoid the drop.

This season I‘ve already bought the tickets for our first game, the second home game against Wolves on September 1st, and I‘m optimistic West Ham will record the first home win in this match. Yes, I‘m “foolish enough to believe that the best is yet to come“ this season. I think we can be optimistic that Manuel Pellegrini and his team will work it out with this squad full of talented players.

The point of being a football fan is that not just a new season, but also every weekend offers a new start. And especially we, the West Ham supporters, are foolish enough to believe that the bubbles we’re blowing will reach the sky – or at least “nearly“ will do. Maybe they will fly high as early as next Saturday against an also still winless Arsenal. And in any case I’m sure my first visit of the season on the following Saturday will be a happy day! If the bubbles don’t fade and die…

Come on you Irons!

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Talking Point

Never take anything for granted

In football one thing is for sure: you never can take anything for granted. The Champions League and Europa League ties last week again proved very well that even the highest favoured teams, leading by a comfortable margin from the first leg, may struggle or be eliminated against all odds. And as West Ham fans we know only too well that never opposition should be taken lightly, especially in cup games. And the game under the floodlights on Monday at the London Stadium is a cup final.

Well, West Ham’s engagement in the domestic cups didn’t really set the world alight this season, and the Hammers have no more cup ties to play at this stage of the proceedings. And they haven’t won a real cup final since 1980. But now we virtually have a cup final – or at least a semifinal – on Monday night! If the Irons manage to win the crucial game against second from bottom Stoke City, their unwanted flirt with relegation will be more or less over and our season is saved.

The other results this weekend could have gone a little better so far from West Ham’s perspective (if Crystal Palace and Huddersfield had dropped points and Swansea had lost, there would still be a gap of 2 or 3 points between these teams and West Ham before the Stoke game). But with third from bottom Southampton losing 2-3 at home to Chelsea (squandering a two goal lead) the gap of 6 points between the Hammers and the relegation zone is still there before the game against Stoke. Alas, in case of winning on Monday night West Ham will be 9 points away from the drop zone with only 5 games to play until the end of the season! And with playing at home against a team that has managed only one win in 15 games since Christmas and has the worst defensive record of the league, this win should be all but ensured.

But as we said before, in football never anything can be taken for granted, and West Ham have already lost games with similar prospects and expected outcomes this season (just think of losing to Newcastle, Swansea, and Burnley – or drawing with Crystal Palace at home). And we also should be aware that West Ham haven’t managed any back to back Premier League home wins since December 2016, and have not won twice in one season over Stoke City since the Potters’ first PL campaign in 2008/09.

But the last two games can make us quite optimistic with Marko Arnautovic still in top form, benefiting from Arthur Masuaku’s return from suspension and thriving in his role as a central striker which David Moyes has handed to the Austrian international. Arnie has completely lost his odeur of instability and sloppiness, of wasting chances and disappearing for large parts of games. Asked on my thoughts about him when he came to West Ham last summer I praised him as Austria’s recently most talented player, but I added that I had been happy that I was made angry by him only some times a season (when I watched him in the Austrian national team), and now I was going to be disappointed or annoyed by him every weekend… He seemed to prove me right right from the beginning of his West Ham career, but since David Moyes has come in as the new gaffer and lined up the record signing as West Ham’s central striker, Arnie has supplied nine goals and five assists from 14 starts. Statistics say that since gameweek 16, only three players have fired more shots on target: Harry Kane with 36, Mohamed Salah with 28, and Sergio Aguero with 25. And since the Austrian’s return from injury in gameweek 27, no player can better Arnautovic’s 12 shots on target. He has been directly involved in 13 PL goals this season, with nine goals and four assists.

That playing him in the central and only striker role has proven so successful doesn’t make it easy for the manager to include Chicharito in the starting eleven. „Little pea“ is a born goal scorer with an impressive record of scoring from inside the box and his inclusion in the starting eleven is requested by a lot of fans and, I think, also expected by himself. He has already got 8 goals this season though he has been played out of position under Slaven Bilic, been injured and often only has come from the bench. It will be very interesting to see if David Moyes will find a system in which West Ham‘s two top scorers can work together in the last 6 games of the season…

David Moyes’s team selection against Chelsea last Sunday (the third game in London I was able to fly over for and watch live this season by the way) has been spot on, and bringing Hernandez in the second half has proved highly successful. I was very sceptical about the appointment of Moyes back in November, but, as was said in a previous post here, „he has brought improvement to a number of players, steadied the ship, improved morale and also given a few opportunities to youngsters which we have all been asking for“.

If he could do at West Haw what he achieved at Everton from 2002-2013 (8 top seven finishes in his eleven seasons) that would be the „next step“ that West Ham realistically can make. Promising us more, even Champions League football, was a highly unrealistic vision that has not gone well with the problems West Ham’s supporters faced with the loss of Upton Park, the transition to the new stadium which has not emerged as a proper football ground so far and the underachievement in the transfer market with a lack of clever and sufficient investment. Karren Brady, Sullivan and Gold have underachieved (to put it mildly) in the first two seasons in the London Stadium. This summer, after having secured Premier League football, will be crucial for the direction in which West Ham is heading.

Now let’s hope for our first back to back wins at the new ground after almost one and a half year!

A cup final ahead

As I’ve already said, Monday under the lights is a cup final for West Ham. Though West Ham haven’t won a real cup final since 1980, the Hammers have won a final back in 2012 when they beat Blackpool in the play offs at Wembley to secure their comeback to the Premier League.

Monday’s game is of similiar significance, I would not only call it a “six pointer” but a nine or ten pointer: a win will move the Irons 10 points away from the Potters and 9 points away from the drop zone. One more win is all but important and could make us virtually sure that the fear of relegation is over! And with the confidence the win over Southampton and the draw at Stamford Bridge have brought, the squad looks capable of seizing this opportunity to make a giant step towards safety.

This massive game must be won. But you know, in football and especially with West Ham nothing can be taken for granted.

Come on you Irons!


Talking Point

No Salvation yet, but a Boost for West Ham's Confidence

Easter Saturdays with West Ham involved in a relegation battle are something special. I particularly remember a Holy Saturday eleven years ago, when West Ham played Arsenal on April 7th, 2007. Mark Noble played in midfield and Carlos Tevez and Bobby Zamora led the line. West Ham were the first team to beat Arsenal in their new ground, winning this game 1-0 by virtue of Bobby Zamora’s goal.

I’m sure everybody remembers this game being part of West Ham’s „Great Escape“ which they managed that season. Well, this season a “great escape” will not be needed to avoid relegation, though West Ham’s season has been quite rich on disasters so far and everybody will be happy to put this one behind us. But the victory this Holy Saturday, beating the Saints 3-0, can make us more than confident that West Ham will also escape the drop this season. With six games left, now being five points away from the relegation zone after having won a real „six pointer“ against Southampton, the Hammers are really not far away from safety, but of course not saved yet.

A difficult fixture list

And West Ham aren’t going to have an easy run-in. Within the last part of the season they will have to cross swords with last season’s champions Chelsea, this season’s champions in the making Manchester City, runners up Manchester United and Arsenal. But with Stoke at home in a fortnight and Leicester (A) and Everton (H) in their last two games, there are plenty of opportunities to collect the final points needed to avoid being dragged into or nearer the relegation zone again.

It really was a fine first half performance on Saturday, the Irons played with determination and urgency against a Southampton side which couldn’t muster a single shot on Joe Hart’s goal before the break. Now why not let “Bubbles” fly high again and start dreaming of getting something from next Sunday’s London derby at Stamford Bridge? Chelsea have just been beaten by Tottenham at home this weekend and the top four now seem fairly out of reach for the Blues, having won only 3 out of 10 league games so far in 2018.

„We have to try until the end to catch the teams in the Champions League places,“ Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said after their defeat against Spurs, but with already having fallen eight points behind the fourth spot this isn’t an easy challenge. Maybe West Ham will be able to capitalise twice from Chelsea’s inconsistency this season, having already beaten them back in December when Marko Arnautovic scored his first league goal for the Hammers in a famous 1-0 win at the London Stadium! With the confidence Marko has achieved in recent weeks, scoring for Austria’s national team (below) and West Ham in his last three games and having got 9 goals and three assists for the Hammers so far, now everything seems possible for our number seven. And it already is beyond doubt for me that the Austrian international has to be this season’s „Hammer of the Year“!

A determined performance and a truce – will it last until the end of the season?

Having won the crucial game against Southampton and playing a London derby next Sunday will surely help to keep West Ham’s truce between their fans and the much criticised Board which seemed to be in force in the London Stadium on Saturday. The fans were behind the team from the first minute in this really important, season-defining match, and the supporters could not have asked for a better response from the players. The mavericks in the team really rose to the occasion, not only with Marko finding the net twice but also João Mário playing his best game since his arrival in January with scoring the priceless first goal of a happy afternoon for the Hammers!

West Ham‘s energetic pressing payed early dividends with two goals in the 13th and 17th minute, resulting from stealing possession from tedious attacking moves of their opponents, followed by quick runs by the really very well playing Cheikhou Kouyaté and an also impressing Edmilson Fernandes as well as another player coming back from a six game ban, Arthur Musuaku.

Arnie at his cocky best, my favourite for “Hammer of the Year”

Marko Arnautovic denied having a personal feud with Mark Hughes, his former manager at Stoke City whose first league game in charge of Southampton went terribly wrong for him on Saturday. But it is a matter of fact that Arnie again was “at it his cocky best against his old manager” (as Jacob Steinberg put it in his match report in The Guardian, or could we already say “at his Cockney best” as Arnie really seems to love playing in the East end of London), inspiring the Hammers to another 3-0 win as he had done back in December beating his old club Stoke 3-0. Arnie had celebrated his goal against Stoke with his arms showing West Ham’s crossed hammers in front of Stoke‘s supporters who had abused and booed him throughout that game. And also this time having scored his first goal, West Ham’s 2-0, he crossed his arms and cast a thriumphal glance to his old manager.

The very important third goal was Arnie’s second one shortly before the break in added time – a spectacular volley from a deep cross from Arthur Masuaku. Now Arnie just showed his tongue as he likes to do sometimes and did not spend a view on his old manager anymore.

The second half could have ended with another spectacular goal, but Cresswell’s volley hit the bar and the day passed off peacefully in the end. Well, this win on the Saturday before Easter was not the final salvation for West Ham, but a big step forward to securing Premier League football in the London Stadium!

Blowing bubbles at Stamford Bridge?

We will be back to London this week and hopefully I will make the Chelsea game on Sunday. Still have no tickets though!

Having witnessed my fellow Austrian Marko Arnautovic’s first West Ham goal against the same opponents back in December I am hoping to be able to watch some other exploits of Arnie and the boys in claret and blue in the reverse fixture. Well, I’m not expecting an unlikely „double“ against the Blues, but West Ham could be capable of getting away from Stamford Bridge with a precious point. Especially after having kept a clean sheet in their last game and young Declan Rice really being a revelation against Southampton, West Ham’s defensive unit can breed new confidence. And as the Hammers still have the second worst defensive record of all teams in the Premier League this season, it’s really time to put things right at this side of the pitch!

See you on Sunday. Come on you Irons!


Talking Point

Arnie from Austria: A West Ham Legend In The Making?

I have been to London twice this autumn and Christmas time. Fortunately I was able to watch West Ham on both occasions and to some extent I witnessed history: I was present at Slaven Bilic’s last game in charge back in November, and I watched my fellow Austrian Marko Arnautovic’s first goal for the Hammers.

Initially I thought of writing a post comparing these two games, entitled “A completely different story”. But I now have left it too late to write a column with this header: West Ham weren’t able to pull clear of the drop zone and still find itself in the relegation mire on New Year’s Eve.

Having watched the abject and dismal performance against Liverpool on my first visit this autumn, when the Irons were completely unable to string some passes together and trouble a Liverpool side which was far from its best, I couldn’t expect a win over last season’s champions on my next visit to the London Stadium. But the narrow loss a week ago to the one team that is playing a perfect season so far, Manchester City, had let us raise some hope, despite the results under new manager David Moyes had not been in West Ham’s favour so far, and the Irons still were chasing their first win under the new gaffer.

Also the player I am particularly interested this season, fellow Austrian Marko Arnautovic, had not lived up to the expectations before the Chelsea game. He is the best player in Austria’s current national team and on his day he can be brilliant, but far too often he has lacked commitment and his work rate on the pitch was poor. When I was asked what I thought about Arnautovic’s move from Stoke to West Ham in the summer, I used to reply: “Well, so far Marko has made me angry just some times a year – when I watched him play for Austria – but from now on I will be angered by him every weekend.”

And that exactly happened from the beginning of this season with Marko struggling under Slaven Bilic, being red-carded in his second league game, and unable to find the net or providing an assist in a league game until December. When new manager David Moyes came in, Marko Arnautovic’s name was the first one to be mentioned in the tabloids as a player the Scotsman would like to sell to generate funds for new signings in the January window.

But West Ham’s “number 7” started in three of Moyes’s first four games in charge prior to the Chelsea match. And Marko’s attitude seemed much improved, he responded well to the gaffer’s request to raise his work rate, to track back and defend when West Ham had lost possession, and to play in a more central position than under Bilic who had used him mostly on the wing.

I am not sure if Moyes has really threatened to wield the axe and sell Arnautovic in the January window if his instructions weren’t followed, but he surely must have found the right words for the Austrian. It was the 1-1 against Leicester (though still not the first win under the new manager) when things began to look brighter, and it was not only the loud home crowd that impressed the pundits in that match, but also Marko Arnautovic who made such an impression that he was named “man of the match”. He received a deserved standing ovation when he was replaced by Andre Ayew after 70 minutes.

This step forward was followed by a cruel setback though: West Ham lost 0-4 to Everton, allowing Wayne Rooney to score four goals, and the next three games were to be played against much stronger opposition: Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Would my second live game in the London Stadium this season (against Chelsea) be one of four defeats in a row which were on the cards this December? Therefore when planning the trip to London I had scheduled a Christmas concert by candlelight for Saturday evening after the game in order to prevent my family from starting the pre-Christmas holiday on a low.

Albeit, the good news is that the start to our stay in London was quite the opposite! On a bright and cold Saturday we had a smooth journey to London Stansted and the claret seat belts in the plane showed all the right colours on our flight! Having landed perfectly in time we travelled from the airport to West Ham station where we met the wonderful Paul Turner who stored our luggage in the boot of his car and drove to London Stadium with us. We had time enough before the game to buy me a West Ham Christmas scarf which immediately replaced the blue one I had grabbed thoughtlessly early in the morning when we had left home for Vienna airport.

We were on our seats in time to join in to the singing of “Bubbles” and from the beginning of the game it was very clear that this was a West Ham side very different from the poor XI I had watched five weeks ago. David Moyes had instilled a different attitude into the team, there was commitment, good passing, regained confidence and a lot of skill (especially from Masuaku who was a revelation in his new role on the left wing). The crowd responded well to the pleasing procedures on the pitch and the West Ham supporters were of good voice throughout the game, really being “West Ham’s claret and blue army” and outsinging the Chelsea fans by far. I also cheered and sang so much this afternoon that my wife feared I was going to lose my voice and would be unable to sing along to the Christmas carols in the candlelight concert in the evening.

The sunny lunchtime at the London Stadium looked even brighter when just 6 minutes into the game a one-two with Manu Lanzini brought Marko Arnautovic in a good position in the box. Everyone rose to his feet and who wasn’t quick enough to jump up immediately, unfortunately missed the very well placed shot into the left bottom corner that put West Ham ahead. It was a beautifully taken first goal for “Arnie” and his jump into the crowd showed the big relief this goal meant to the Austrian! We were sitting in the same stand in which he was hugged by the crowd, but unfortunately our seats weren’t in the lower tier, so we couldn’t express our delight personally and say “Servus” from face to face. But this fact didn’t detract from our pleasure which grew bigger and bigger throughout the game when West Ham showed resilience and also the necessary composure to hold on and in the end beat last season’s champions 1-0.

With his goal and his celebration with the fans “Arnie” (as he is called now by the West Ham fans) evoked memories of Carlos Tevez who also jumped into the crowd when he had scored his first goal after a long and tough time back in the 2006-07 season. Well, and Marko Arnautovic’s nick name reminds me of someone else – another famous Austrian, the “terminator” Arnold Schwarzenegger, especially as Arnie’s goal helped to terminate a winless streak of 8 league games.

It feels as if the Austrian forward has not stopped scoring since the game against Chelsea! David Moyes was right to praise Arnautovic lately for responding well to his challenge to raise his work rate or face being dropped. Arnie hit the back of the net in the 3-0 win against his former club Stoke and in the annoying 2-3 defeat against Newcastle, and now he has scored his first brace in the dramatic 3-3 against Bournemouth on Boxing Day (a game which West Ham would have won if the ref had not given the Cherries’ controversial equalizer in stoppage time!). Although West Ham is back in the relegation zone on New Year’s Eve: the Cherries have beaten Everton on Saturday moving up from 18th to 13th in the table and the Irons have played one game less due to the postponement of their match against Tottenham.

Let’s hope the new year will bring a bright start with a win over West Brom on the 2nd of January in the London Stadium – maybe with some more exploits of our Arnie from Austria! I am very happy that last summer’s record signing finally has become a real asset of West Ham’s squad. When he continues to play (and score) like he has done since Moyes’s managerial takeover at West Ham he could be a West Ham legend in the making!

After the first game of the year West Ham have to play three games away vs. Spurs, Shrewsbury (FA Cup) and Huddersfield. Though I know that getting results in the Premier League is most important for the club, the weekend in January which is most important to me is the one we play Shrewsbury in the FA Cup: if the Irons win and the draw brings them a home game in the next round, this could be my third West Ham game this season, because we are going to be back in London by the end of January when the 4th round of the FA Cup is played.

So come on you Irons, let this January be a success for claret and blue – on the pitch and with a good transfer window, too! I hope David Moyes will not only have been able to find the right words to instill a new attitude into the squad, but also to find the right players to bolster this squad. Especially in midfield I think the team needs to be strengthened …

But one thing is for sure: West Ham player Marko Arnautovic is not for sale in this window, he’s one to watch on the pitch this January!

Happy New Year everybody! COYI!


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