I Wouldn’t Bet On It 23

Looking for a use for any left over Christmas chocolate money?

Fancy A Bet

Success yet again (very lucky some might say!) with the following bet last weekend:

 13 points on West Ham to win the game v Hull @8/13 (21)

 Our new balance is 146 points.

This time I reckon we’ll draw at Swansea so will stake the following:

10 points on Swansea v West Ham to be a draw @12/5 (34)
8 points on West Ham to win @7/4 (22)
1 point on a 1-1 draw @6/1 (7)
1 point on Sigurdsson 1st goal and 1-1 score @33/1 (34)
1 point on Noble 1st goal and 1-1 score @66/1 (67)

Our balance reduces to 125 points after staking 21 points above. We win very slightly if we win the game, and win more if the game end in a draw.

Potential returns if correct in brackets.

What are the chances?

The Lawro Challenge – Week 18

A festive head-to-head with the celebrated BBC pundit predictor in the Boxing Day edition of the Lawro challenge.

Xmas LawroSeventeen rounds of games in the Premier League have now been completed. That means we have now attempted to predict the results of 170 matches so far.

In Week 17, Rich scored 6 points, Geoff 10 points, and Lawro 7 points. With a win for Geoff for the second week running is there an unlikely comeback on the cards .

In this challenge we award one point for a correct result, and a further two points (making three in total) if the score prediction is spot on.

Full of festive spirit we now march on to week 18.

 

Rich

Geoff

Lawro

Total after 16 weeks

138

94

124

Score in week 17

6

10

7

Total after 17 weeks

144

104

131

 

 

 

 

Predictions – Week 18

 

 

 

 

Rich

Geoff

Lawro

Monday

 

 

 

Watford v Palace

2-1

1-2

1-1

Arsenal v WBA

1-0

3-1

2-0

Burnley v Middlesbrough

2-1

1-0

1-1

Chelsea v Bournemouth

2-0

3-0

2-0

Leicester v Everton

1-1

2-0

2-1

Man U v Sunderland

4-1

2-0

3-0

Swansea v West Ham

1-1

1-2

0-2

Hull v Man City

0-2

1-4

0-3

Tuesday

 

 

 

Liverpool v Stoke

2-0

3-1

3-0

Wednesday

 

 

 

Southampton v Tottenham

1-1

0-1

0-2

Half Year Report Card Part 2

Revealing part two of the report card on player performance.

Report CardYesterday we published Part 1 of our Half Year Report Card exposing who were the workers and who were the shirkers in a somewhat disappointing season to date.  Now we put aside the Eat Me Dates and Chocolate Brazil Nuts for just a few minutes to bring you Part 2.  We can now finish the wrapping to settle down and enjoy the festivities.

As shown in our recent article the assertion that West Ham come down with the Christmas decorations is something of a myth and we can hope for a much improved second half to the campaign.

Subject

Remarks

Grade

Manuel Lanzini

Manuel always tries to bring energy and incisiveness into the midfield areas.  He shows good movement, makes great runs and is often involved for what has passed for quick interplay in our team this year.  As an end product he has often flattered to deceive and has a tendency to fade (and be substituted) in the majority of games.

 

 

B-

Arthur Masuaku

An emergency signing as cover for the injured Cresswell, Arthur has demonstrated extremes of confident attacking play and comedy defending.  The dual handball sequence which led to the floodgates opening away to West Brom was unfathomable.  Also a victim of the injury curse he looks to have useful attributes and may still be able to build a future at the club.

 

 

C-

Mark Noble

Affectionately known as ‘Mr West Ham’, Mark has had a tough first half to the term.  Still cannot be faulted for effort and his grass blade covering exertions but his technical limitations have become very apparent.  His lack of pace cause him to by bypassed in midfield when the opposition have the ball (most of the time) and he also slows the game down too much when in possession.  On the evidence so far he looks to be well past his best before date.

 

 

C

Havard Nordtveit

Havrad has endured a difficult start to his time at the club.  Seen as the potential answer to our long time defensive midfielder problem he has failed to impress either in that role or when he has been asked to cover elsewhere.  For someone who came with a strong reputation from his time in the Bundesliga he has been a huge disappointment so far culminating in his disastrous cameo in the late capitulation to Spurs.

 

 

D

Pedro Obiang

Overlooked and apparently out of favour for most of last year Pedro has been the undoubted success of the season to date.  An excellent work rate has added to his ball-winning ability and he has demonstrated an economy and a good eye for direct and telling passes.  Showed a lot of patience and has made the most of his chance once it came along; it is just a little worrying why it took so long to arrive now that we have seen how well he has filled on of the side’s problem positions.

 

 

 

A+

Angelo Ogbonna

A strong left sided centre back Angelo earned a place in West Ham folklore with his last minute headed winner against Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup.  For the most part a competent defender he is prone to occasional losses of concentration and causal play with costly consequences.  His love of a grapple at set pieces is also a concern.

 

 

C+

Dimitri Payet

Last season’s magician of the free kick and maestro of the assist, Dimi has been a shadow of his former self (at least in impact if not in stature) this time around.  He remains our greatest attacking threat but the enthusiasm and gusto is missing from his game.  Is he lacking fitness, would he rather be elsewhere, have other teams learned how to nullify him, has the non-performance of the team as a unit stifled him? Who knows the enigma of this season’s Payet. 

 

 

B-

Darren Randolph

A long time understudy Darren was called to centre stage following a string of eccentric displays by El Adrian.  His presence hasn’t prevented the goals against continuing to click over but that was not all down to him apart from high profile gaffes away at Spurs and Liverpool.  An excellent shot stopper but never convincing in the air.

 

 

C+

Winston Reid

Winston continues to be a stalwart of the Hammer’s defence even if this is far from impregnable this year.  Demonstrates excellent commitment to cause, has solid defensive qualities and never afraid to put himself on the line for the team.  Not the greatest in using the ball but not as bad as some suggest and would be perfectly competent if more options were available.  Rarely makes critical gaffes a la Collins and Ogbonna.

 

 

A-

Diafra Sakho

The most complete striker at the club, Diafra is also a regular in the treatment room having made just 2 appearances this term.  An early return from his latest injury will probably see him off on international duty to the African Cup of Nations.  Almost sold in the summer after a fallout with the management it would be foolish to let him go in the current predicament.   

 

 

C

Simone Zaza

Dear oh dear…….

 

E

 

Slaven Bilic

In a complete reversal of fortune (as they used to say on TV) Slaven has gone from being the strongest link last season to being the weakest link this time around.  Maybe the new stadium and confidence play a part but poor player recruitment, an unbalanced squad, unimaginative tactics, unmotivated and unfit players, a lack of organisation and no clear style of play all rest firmly at the manager’s door.  Two lucky wins have fortunately given him a stay of execution.

 

 

D+

Half Year Report Part 1

The dreaded half year report is issued before heading off for the Christmas break.

Report CardAlthough it may not be strictly half way through the season yet we are keeping with tradition by issuing the half year report cards before breaking up for the festivities.  This will allow the players to go home and think long and hard about their performances while we sit back and crack open a bottle of Emva Cream or Warninks Advocaat.

The first half is published today and part two tomorrow.

Subject

Remarks

Grade

Michail Antonio

Michail has done well to become leading goal-scorer despite being asked to play in almost every outfield position – sometimes in the same match.  A playing style based on energy, pace and power, often mistakenly described as raw, he has shown tremendous commitment and adaptability.  It is not his fault he is not a specialist right back and that, worryingly, the manager thought that was his best position.

 

 

A

Andre Ayew

The club’s injury curse caused Andre to miss a large part of term.  Having taken the record transfer mantle from fellow invalid Andy Carroll he has yet to complete a full game for the team.  In his brief appearances he has largely been lethargic and laboured with just occasional bright flashes of what he might possess.  Looks far from value for money for the time being and will be off to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

 

 

D+

Andy Carroll

Andy’s attendance has again been poor this term only just showing up in time for the Christmas party which has now been postponed.  Alleged to be unplayable due to his strength in the air this has yet to be demonstrated over a sustained period of time.  Aerial strength is not matched by ability on the ground and his deployment as a lone striker, with poor service, invariable leads to one-dimensional attacking play.

 

 

C

Sam Byram

Another with a bad attendance record we have yet to be convinced that Sam is the answer to our long held right back problem.  Early promise has been interrupted by a series of injuries including the strange self-inflicted one that he picked up early in the game against Middlesbrough.  There are differences of opinion as to whether he is a full-back or a wing-back which can hopefully be confirmed in the new year.

 

 

C-

James Collins

James tries his best and is a popular squad member.  Always shows lots of effort and determination but lacks some of the basic technical skills and prone to occasional ‘ricket’.  Known for his brave last ditch blocks and tackles which, ironically, are often of his own making.  There is nothing as final and definitive as a James Collins clearance.  Has been a useful emergency squad player but we should now have better, younger alternatives.  

 

 

C+

Aaron Cresswell

Aaron missed the early part of term due to injury and his welcome return coincided with a brief uptick in form and resulted in an international call-up.  Recently his conversion to wing back in the favoured 3-at-the-back formation has seemed to confuse him and his link up play with Payet, which was once a major threat, has now been nullified.  Contributed his most error strewn performance for some time in the recent match against Hull/

 

 

B-

Adrian

Starting the season as the clear Number 1 and on the fringes of his national side, Adrian has had a fraught first half of the year.  A competent keeper both in the air and at shot stopping he has been side-tracked by trying to develop himself as a flamboyant goal-keeping character.  Not as good at ball control and dribbling as he thinks some poor goals conceded through lack of concentration and his mad dash out of goal to gift an equaliser to Stoke have led to him losing his place.

 

 

 

C

Sofiane Feghouli

The capture of Sofiane against stiff competition was billed as something of a coup and there was early promise despite the disappointment of the Europa League campaign.  Although injuries haven’t helped the over-riding impression is of a winger who is unable to cross the ball or avoid the first defender.  Perhaps there is better to come but there are few encouraging signs.

 

 

D+

 

Edmilson Fernandes

The diamond in the rough of the summer transfer dealings Edmilson always gives the impression of a very assured, controlled and intelligent footballer. Has performed well wherever he has been asked to play although an attacking role plays more to his strengths.  May need to work on the physical side of his game to continue to develop in the Premier League frenzy.

 

 

B

Ashley Fletcher

Ashley has shown some good touches in his handful of start and various substitute appearances.  Possibly not yet equipped physically to play a lone striker role his effectiveness has been hampered by the lack of organisation or cohesiveness within the team.  Has looked a little scared and bemused at times but looks to have potential if used properly.

 

 

C

Cheikhou Kouyate

Cheikhou brings a powerful and athletic presence to the team and will be missed when to sets off for the African Cup of Nations.  Started the season in midfield but has recently played as one of 3 centre backs.  He offers strength and pace to the back line but his strong runs have been missed in midfield.  Overall is more effective in midfield but should bring his defensive discipline with him and look to improve his final ball.

 

 

B+

Down with the Christmas decorations?

We look at whether the West Ham reputation of coming down with the Xmas decorations is fact or myth.

Christmas Decorations

I first went to Upton Park in the 1958-59 season. That means that this is my 59th season of actively supporting the team. Of the 58 completed seasons, 49 have been spent in the top flight of English football, and just 9 in the second tier. I have seen us relegated five times and then promoted back five times.

We’ve always had a reputation for coming down with the Christmas decorations. So I thought I’d conduct some research to ascertain whether this is a fact or a myth. Looking at those 49 seasons at the top table I found that on 22 occasions we finished the season in a lower position than we held on Christmas Day. And 22 times we actually finished up in a higher position at the end than we were at Christmas. Five times we ended up in exactly the same position. So in reality, on average the second half of the season has been equally as good as the first.

It is true that in the 1960s and 1980s the trend was to fall in the league table after Christmas more often than not. But since 1993-94, our first season in the newly formed Premier League, we have been in the top flight for 20 seasons, and in that time we have only finished the season in a lower position than we were at Christmas on three occasions. In 1993-94 we dropped from 11th to 13th, in 2000-01 we fell from 10th to 15th, and the biggest fall was in 2014-15 when in Big Sam’s final season we went from 4th at Christmas to finish 12th. In every other year we have either retained or improved our position in the second half. So apart from Big Sam’s swansong, we have never fallen to a lower position at the end of the season than we held at Christmas in our last 12 seasons in the top flight.

Our Christmas Day position this year is 13th. Our average finishing position in the 49 seasons in the top division in my lifetime is 13th. Of course 3rd was our best performance of all in 1985-86. That season we were 3rd at Christmas too. And on the five occasions when we were relegated, our positions on Christmas Day were 21, 20, 18, 20, 20. So if history (especially recent history) is anything to go by, what is there to worry about?

Of course we have played indifferently in quite a few games this season. But our five 1-0 victories, and four draws, leave us on 19 points from 17 games. It has not been a good season, especially compared to the last one. Our manager and the players still have a lot of work to do to ensure that we keep our distance from the relegation places, and hopefully push on upwards towards the top half of the table. We must stop throwing away points when we are leading in games too. The 12 points we have dropped from leading positions, would have seen us in 5th place in the table if we had held on to the lead in those matches.

It’s not all doom and gloom as some articles in the media would suggest. It hasn’t been the best, but trust me we’ve been here before. We’ve never been relegated from this position in the table at Christmas, and it won’t happen this season either. We are only five points behind seventh place in the table, which is where we finished last season. I’m looking for us to move upwards after Christmas, just as we have done in most seasons in the twenty-first century.  The generally held belief that we come down with the Christmas decorations is a false one.

West Ham 1 v 0 Hull

A review of the Hull game – A star is born.

Embed from Getty Images

A couple of days ago Geoff Hopkins wrote an excellent article with five observations in respect of robbing Hull of three points at the weekend. It is hard to disagree with anything that he said. During the game tweeted that he believed the post was our man of the match, and his idea was followed up on some post-match polls with thousands of respondents who agreed with his selection.

Whenever a player is known by one name you know he is a star. Pele, Maradonna, and now Post. Post, whose real name is Woody Woodwork, is related to a number of famous people such as Rod Laver, Rod Marsh, Postman Pat, Woody (of Toy Story fame) and Roy Wood, whose Christmas song is played throughout December. He is also closely related to Barry Bar of Crossbar Challenge fame.

Reports that Post was seen staggering out of an East End nightclub at 4am on Sunday morning were way off the mark according to his agent, Posty McPost Face. Posty confirmed that Post is an upright character who spent the evening at home with his wife, Wendy Woodwork, after a meal at a Chigwell restaurant with close friends.

Post has always been known as a hard man at the back, and his agent has lined him up with several lucrative endorsement opportunities, the biggest one being the front for a new Viagra campaign. Sales of West Ham home shirts with “POST” on the back have been the biggest seller in the club shop in the lead up to Christmas.

Despite Post coming to our rescue three times, and the general agreement that Hull deserved to win the game, or most certainly didn’t deserve to lose, it is interesting to note some of the statistics for the game. Now as Geoff and I have written on some occasions in the past, football statistics can be interesting but in many respects are meaningless when considering the outcome of a game.

Nevertheless I will set out below some of the key statistics that are always collected at games. Those people who believe in the statistics will find it hard to believe that Hull were unlucky losers.

Possession – West Ham 56%, Hull 44%
Shots – West Ham 19, Hull 16
Shots on Target – West Ham 6, Hull 5
Corners – West Ham 10, Hull 6

None of this really means anything except that we had the ball more than they did, we shot at goal more than they did, we had more shots on target than they did, and forced more corners than they did. I know that the general view is that we were fortunate (very fortunate!), but the fact of the matter is we scored a goal and they didn’t. And when it comes down to allocation of points that means we got three and they got zero.

Of course if we keep playing like this, then as Geoff pointed out, we are unlikely to win many more games. But, just for the moment I will take our seven points from three distinctly average performances in the past week. Things will need to improve drastically, but I can remember many occasions in our history when we have deserved to win games but haven’t. It’s good for the boot to be on the other foot for a change.

This Week in Hammer’s History

Festive spirit, the season of goodwill and games on Christmas Day in the week 19 – 25 December in Hammer’s History.

This Week Hammers HistoryIn the mid 1960’s West Ham had featured in two successive cup finals by winning the FA European Cup Winners Cups.  On 21 December 1965 they were set firmly on course for a third consecutive final appearance thanks to a 5-2 League Cup semi-final first leg victory against Cardiff at Upton Park.  Goals from Bovington, Brabrook, Byrne, Hurst and Sissons effectively wrapped up the tie which was sealed just over a month later with a 5-1 second leg win at Ninian Park.

CambridgeIn the deep mid-winter of 1979 West Ham had scheduled their pre-Christmas fixture against Cambridge United for a Friday night to avoid clashing with the last Saturday, last minute shopping frenzy (it was not possible to buy West Ham underwear for your wife in the club shop at the time).  This is often cited as one of the most memorable Boleyn experiences by many of the 11,000 or so hardy souls (of which I was one) who battled along on that bitterly cold December evening.  The match started in light snow and after 45 minutes West Ham were a goal down and it was time for a hot, half-time cup of Bovril.  During the interval Bill Remfry played Mike Oldfield’s ‘In Dulchi Jubilo’ and encouraged the crowd to dance just to keep warm; an invitation taken to extreme by one supporter who streaked onto the pitch.  In the second half the snow turned into a full-on blizzard but goals from Stewart, Pearson and Neighbour turned the game around to give the Hammers a 3-1 victory.

Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Allen, Pearson, Cross (Pike), Brooking, Neighbour

The season of goodwill has frequently paired West Ham with close neighbours Tottenham Hotspur in the run up to Christmas and they were also the opponents on West Ham’s last ever Christmas Day fixture.

Defeat at White Hart Lane on Christmas Eve 1960 was offset by victories both home and away in the following years.  In 1967 West Ham won 2-1 at Upton Park on 23 December (Bonds, Dear) and on 20 December 1969 they were also victorious by a 2-0 scoreline at White Hart Lane (Peters, Hurst).  The points were shared in a thrilling topsy-turvy 4-4 away draw on 22 December 1962.  West Ham were behind 2-0 and 3-2 before leading 4-3 and conceding an injury time leveller.  West Ham’s goals were shared between Peters, Kirkup, Boyce and Scott and the match was also notable for an unexpected hat-trick by Dave Mackay for Spurs.

The Christmas Day fixture was in 1958 at the Boleyn Ground in front of 26,178 spectators.  After a goalless first half West Ham, inspired by Phil Woosnam, raced into a 2 – 0 lead with goals from John Dick and Vic Keeble; both of whom worked like Trojans according to the news report at the time.  Woosnam was then badly crocked by Spurs defender Maurice Norman and with no substitutes at the time spent the remainder of the game limping along the left wing.  This allowed Tottenham to pull one back but the Hammers held on to win 2-1.  In the return fixture at White Hart Lane on the following day (Boxing Day) West Ham completed the double with a resounding 4-1 victory with goals from Bond, Keeble, Dick and Own Goal.

Gregory, Bond, Cantwell, Malcolm, Brown, Smith, Grice, Woosnam, Keeble, Dick, Musgrove

Andy Smillie replaced the injured Woosnam for the Boxing Day fixture otherwise it was the same team.

Notable Birthdays

21 December          Paul Heffer                         69
21 December          Cheikhou Kouyate           27
22 December          Phil Woosnam                   d. 2013
22 December          Bill Green                            66
24 December          Diafro Sakho                      27

5 Observations from West Ham robbing Hull

Police want to question a gang dressed in claret and blue seen making off with 3 points at the London Stadium.

5 Things WHUMore Points But………

There are no circumstances when I am not happy with a win.  I want West Ham to win every game that they plan in; even if that meant that Spurs won the league or Millwall avoided relegation.  Likewise I would never want my team to lose in order to oust an unpopular or under-performing manager.  The six points earned gained against Burnley and Hull are a relief but the nature of the victories suggest that this might simply be a temporary respite; the underlying problems that afflict the team continue to exist.  We cannot just rely on ‘Ask the Referee’ lifelines to keep us in the Premier League millionaires club.  The penalties aside we hardly created any worthwhile scoring opportunities; at least not at our own end although we did our best to tee a couple up for Hull.  It wasn’t so much a case of Hull being better than us, rather that we were worse than them.  These two victories only serve to paper over the cracks in the wall as it is apparent that the wall is in a structure without a roof and with unsafe foundations.  Some might say that wins will breed confidence but what I see is not a team short of confidence but of ideas.  We may well scrape through courtesy of there being three poorer sides but our own team is definitely not heading in the right direction under the current regime.

Defining the Team Shape

a·mor·phous

adjective

  • without a clearly defined shape or form.
  • vague; ill-organised; unclassifiable.
  • (of a group of people or an organisation) lacking a clear structure or focus.

Groundhog Day Report

There is a great deal of repetition in these weekly match observations much like that recurring nightmare where you are unable to perform even the most simple task.  Compared to nearly every other team in the Premier League we look less organised, less fit and our abilities for passing and movement is decidedly second best.  The favoured 3 at the back formation (at least the way that it is implemented) does not suit our players.  It stifles the attacking threat of Antonio and Cresswell and creates congested central areas.  There is not enough movement throughout the team; no-one is creating space and the man with the ball has few options but to go sideways and backwards.  Players are waiting for the ball to arrive at their feet before deciding their next move rather than anticipating or making runs.  The result is ponderous build-up that gives plenty of time for the opposition to re-group.  How many positions can Antonio be expected to play in one game?  Why was Carroll alternating between left wing and centre midfield?  Why when we changed to 4 at the back didn’t Ayew play behind Carroll with Antonio out wide?  Why have we abandoned the Antonio long throw as an occasional tactic; at least to mix things up?  Why was Obiang withdrawn when he had been our most likely midfield player?

Last season saw some remarkable successes against top clubs, who we were able to hit on the break, while we often struggled against teams who were more defensive minded.  Our better performances continue to be against the better sides but without the same level of success.  Our struggles and lack of creativity in breaking down those teams that we are meant to dominate remains a huge problem.

We’ve Got/ Had Payet

It is possible to rely too much on one player.  The same happened for large parts of Trevor Brooking’s career at West Ham (until Dev came along to share the load) when opponents always knew what West Ham would attempt to do and were able to counter it.  Almost inevitably when our players now have the ball they will look to eventually feed it to Payet, which he will invariably receive in a static position wide on the left.  Bilic believes (he said so during the Euros), and maybe Dimitri does too, that wide left is his best position as it provides him with the angles necessary to maximise his effectiveness.  I can see some sense in that when your team carries threats right across the park but not when it is your only weapon; in those circumstances the opposition can easily crowd him out.  Payet himself, for whatever reason, is not the same player as last year.  One can only speculate whether his head has been turned by the attention of other clubs, whether the intensity of the Premier League has got too much for him or whether opposing defenders are secretly wearing red kryptonite shorts.  It is unrealistic to expect him to carry the team and unnecessary to burden him with too much defensive duty.  It will surprise me if he is still at the club come February.

Post Match Analysis

I became so disillusioned by our performance this weekend that I took to Twitter during the game (something I rarely do as I am usually 100% focused on the game).  After about 70 minutes I tweeted that the Goalpost had been our man of the match so it was satisfying to see that others felt the same way at the end of the game.

Tweet

For a change I thought I would give my own player ratings as I believe that usually these are far too generous.  My criteria is that a ‘6’ means that a player was average and  did the job expected.

Randolph 6, Kouyate 7, Reid 6, Ogbonna 5, Antonio 6, Lanzini 5 (Ayew 4), Obiang 6 (Fernandes 6), Payet 5, Noble 4, Cresswell 3, Carroll 5

I Wouldn’t Bet On It 22

Remaining cautious after another nice little earner.

Fancy A Bet

Success on Wednesday evening yet again with the following bet:

12 points on West Ham to win at 4/6 (20).

Our balance was down to 120 points after placing the bet, but our win of 20 points increases our total to 140.

West Ham are doing well for us, but I am still not going to be tempted to stake too big.

So the main bet for Saturday is 13 points on West Ham to win the game @8/13 (21)

With two fun bets:

1 point on West Ham to win 2-1 and Andy Carroll to score the first goal @ 35/1 (36)
1 point on West Ham to win 3-1 and Andy Carroll to score the first goal @ 55/1 (56)

Total stake = 15 points; cumulative balance 125.

Potential returns if correct in brackets.

What are the chances?

Matchday: West Ham host Hull Tigers

Sexy football, six on the bounce and the ghost of Pottsy.

West Ham HullIf a restaurant told you that they weren’t too bothered about the food that they served up as all they were interested in was getting their hygiene licence renewed would you still be tempted to go along?  I don’t think I would and so was surprised to hear so many at the club extolling the win ugly approach after the Burnley game and telling us that there would be no ‘sexy’ football for the time being.  Possibly the comments were taken out of context as we seem to be a favourite target in the press for negative stories right now, but even so as a message to give it is an injudicious one.  I am not even sure that is ‘sexy’ that we are looking for but neither is it grandma’s bloomers; most fans would, I believe, happily settle for organisation, passion, commitment, effort and decisiveness.  Press home the advantage don’t retreat and attempt to defend it.

A former corpulent, ear-cupping manager once stated that league position was directly related to the amount of money that was available to a football club.  For once, there was probably a lot of truth in what he said and, as such, should see us in a regular battle for 7th or 8th place with Everton.  Anything less then the club and management are relatively under-performing.  Floundering outside the top 10 must certainly be regarded as failure.

That would be brilliant of course. We spoke about this couple of games in the period when we played against Spurs, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. It was an extremely difficult schedule. That period came and we started with three points and we have a really good chance (on Saturday). Nothing can give you confidence better than victories.

– Slaven Bilic on the chance of back to back victories

Still onwards and upwards and today we have an opportunity to create a little daylight between the basement sides by seeing off the visit of Hull City Tigers.  Hull’s owners seem to be doing everything in their power to get the club relegated and hopefully we can contribute to the cause.  Six points from their first two games followed by six from the next fourteen is less than impressive.    They have lost six away games on the bounce and have failed to score in any of the last four.  What could possibly go wrong today?

Head to Head

West Ham have a 100% record in the last 6 home matches against Hull scoring 19 goals in the process and conceding just 3.  The first game in that sequence was, of course, the 7-1 thrashing in October 1990 which included Steve Potts solitary Hammer’s goal in 463 appearances.  Maybe even Simone Zaza could tuck one away today!

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

21

11

8

2

44

18

WWWWWW

Away

21

4

10

7

22

30

DLWDLD

 

42

15

19

9

66

48

 

Team News

One major disappointment this season is that we don’t appear to have a definite style of play; the approach to any game gives the impression of being unplanned and arbitrary.

The website whoscored.com sums up our style as follows:

Very Strong: Attacking set pieces
Strong: Shooting from direct free kicks
Strong: Defending set pieces
Very Weak: Defending against through ball attacks
Very Weak: Defending against attacks down the wings
Very Weak: Protecting the lead
Weak: Avoiding individual errors
Weak: Defending against long shots

Add to this that a greater percentage of our goals have come from set pieces than any other team in the Premier League and it does not paint a rosy picture of sexy football at any time during the season.

We go there full of life. We’re on the front foot. Yes we’ve lost games but my players are putting everything into their chance in the Premier League. We just need to get a bit lucky if we can.

– Mike Phelan

With no changes in the injury situation it is probable that we will see the same starting XI that featured in midweek meaning perseverance with the flaky 3 at the back and seeking out Andy’s head up front.  Despite my misgivings I expect that we will finally record consecutive wins at the London Stadium.

There was good news about Reece Oxford signing a new contract and let’s hope that he gets some game time once he has recovered from injury.

The Man in the Middle

Lee Mason from Lancashire makes his first acquaintance with the Hammers this year but was in charge of two previous Hull defeats (including the 6-1 loss at Bournemouth). Last term he was in charge of our away draw to Swansea and the win at West Brom.  In 9 games this season Mason has issued 33 Yellow and 1 Red card.