Arsenal’s final game at the Boleyn, a stadium filled with bubbles, passion and occasional violence.
Bob gave his reminiscences yesterday – here are some of mine:
- The first time I visited Upton Park was in the 60’s. I was astonished to find that the disgusting men’s toilets had no washing facilities. I know this was in the days of black and white but even so …
- 2. The Chicken Run. Terrifying place which our away boys tried to take season after season. Tried being the operative word because WHU had some of the most violent fans in the league.
- Racism. The Chavs are possibly worse but this is the only ground where I have seen bananas thrown at a player – in this case Kevin Campbell.
- Liam Brady. It hurt so much to see a hero playing well for the claret and blue.
- John Radford. See 4. but thankfully he didn’t play very well for them – scoring zero goals in 28 apps!
- Ian Wright. See 4.& 5. Though Wrighty MBE scored on his debut for WHU.
There are many other memories. I loved the bubbles pre-match, enjoyed the Hammers singing,and the passion they have for their club.
West Ham were “The Academy”, the club with 3 WC winners, a club closely attached to their locality but the future? Will they carry their proud history over to the new stadium? I doubt it but money rules and tradition is just history and as any accountant will tell you, you cannot bank tradition.
Onto today: Hugely important for both teams. WHU have (astonishingly) the chance to get into the CL! We need to keep up the pressure on the Miscreants and Leicester. Would either club be happy with a draw?
Bilic has done a remarkable job and in any other season would be a shoe-in for Manager of the Year. Think of it this way – how many of the claret and blue would you have in Arsenal’s first team? Payet perhaps, but ahead of Ozil? Not for me. Nonetheless, Bilic has created a team which has beaten us at the Emirates and every team in the top 6.
Should Ramsey return for AFC? I guess bench at best. Iwobi is doing too well to drop and the team looks settled for the first time since Cazorla’s injury.
BFG? WHU have some big units and perhaps it would be erudite to start the German, especially as Giroud is likely to be on the bench and as such unable to help at set plays.
Thinking of set plays; when have you ever seen a better free kick than Payet’s vs Palace? We need defensive discipline and not give him the opportunity to test our GK.
Is Cech fit? If so, he must start. Ospina has done very well but Cech is different gravy.
So, our team: I expect an unchanged side as the performances against Everton and Watford were so good.
West Ham? Will they give it the beans knowing they have a huge FA Cup game at home to MU on Weds? Of course they will – they always do against us.
Under normal circumstances I would be happy to leave East London with a draw but if we are to put pressure on Leicester and the swamp-dwellers then saying goodbye to the Boleyn with 3 points is a must. Will we get them? Why not?