Academy of Football. Moyes?

December 13, 2017

The Hammers. Blowing bubbles. The Academy. Bobby, Geoff and Martin. Trevor’s header at Wembley.

All a long time ago. Nothing remains of that West Ham. Now they are just another industrious, unimaginative team. Allardyce and Moyes. Pragmatism. Andy Carroll.

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This doesn’t mean they cannot beat us, as they showed at the weekend such tactics can work. Any team under the harsh stare of Hawkeye Moyes will be difficult to beat especially if the opposition is not capable of winning a physical battle.

WHU have a player in their midst whom I detest. as does Debuchy – Arnautovic, who was the miscreant whose cowardly attack put Debuchy onto the treatment bench for months. Unfortunately this miscreant has talent and will be a threat to our defence.

They also have a fine GK in Adrian, and it is a mystery why WHU bought Hart. I expect him to be busy tonight.

Thinking of which, will BFG get another game? He was poor at S’ton, though not deserving of the insults from Goonerdom. Have they forgotten that this is our  Club Captain, a proper Arsenal man and a likely future manager? Or that BFG, only 6 months ago, led his team to the FAC victory? I detest the short-termism of some of our fans.

My Team

Cech

Holding    Koscielny    Monreal

Bellerin    Wilshire    Xhaka     Kolasinac

Ozil

Lacazette    Sanchez

I have picked Wilshire but, given this is away fixture, would not be surprised to see wither Coquelin or Elneny with Xhaka pushed further forward into his natural position.

Our away form has been awful, it needs to change. We have to beat teams in the lower half of the table in order to maintain our challenge. A win a home and a draw is no longer good enough.

We have the players, we have the depth of squad, there can be no excuses. That said, away at WHU is always a difficult game, should be an interesting night

COYRRG

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Bubbles, Bilic and Betrayal

April 5, 2017

In recent fixtures West Ham Bob has written the pre-match for this London derby, giving us a view on things Hammery, sadly he is otherwise engaged so you will have to ….

My early recollections of WHU are not good and perhaps influenced my attitude towards our East London neighbours.

In the Days of Black and White, when Spurs had recently won the League, I was a North Bank regular. Every week there was violent competition to “take” the home end at away grounds. At WHU it was the Chicken Run, at Chelsea , the Shed etc etc and at Arsenal away fans tried to “take” the North Bank.

Being a peace-loving long-haired hippy, this violence was not particularly attractive and on Derby Days i would leave my regular spot (towards the back, left side of the goal) and go down the front with the other gentle folk.

The Hammers came to Highbury with fans dressed to kill (literally), a Young Hammer standing by me, pulled out a knife and moved towards me, thankfully an older lady pushed in front of me and told him to desist (in somewhat different language), and called the police to remove the future assassin. He was frog-marched out much to the delight and derision of the North Bank, but I was mentally scarred and have disliked WHU ever since.

The violence both inside and outside Highbury in those Dark Days was terrible to behold – the vitriol shown in yesterday’s post was nothing compared to those days.

Onto tonight’s game: Bilic seems a decent chap and wants to play good passing football in the Academy fashion, sadly he is let down by his players. The Payet saga was awful to watch, imagine how it would have been as a Hammer, to see a man turn from hero to hate figure in less than a season was yet another indication of how morally bankrupt some players are.The WHU fans joy at the removal of Fat Sam is starting to fade as they struggle to get results. What impact will this have on tonight? They will PTB, play hoofball and be dangerous at set plays. The midfield will become a battlefield with  the usual rotational fouling. Andy Carroll.

We have to fight in a different way, move the ball quickly, avoid the physical threat, play smart. Unfortunately we seem to have forgotten how.

I would start with the same team as Sunday, perhaps giving Iwobi or Ox a start as we lacked creativity and urgency vs MC.

My Team:

Ospina

Bellerin      BFG    Mustafi     Monreal

Ox      Xhaka     Ozil

Walcott      Giroud     Sanchez

Giroud adds heights at set plays, especially in defence. Welbeck may be best off the bench. Given Coquelin’s fine performance it may be harsh to drop him, especially in what will be a physical game, but Ox offers more.

BFG? I don’t understand why he is not getting games. Club captain, a fine, experienced player especially at set plays which seem to be both a  major weakness and WHU’s main attacking weapon. Mertesacker has not had games in the youth teams like Welbeck etc. Why not? Mr Wenger says he is fit and in the squad but needs game-time. Tonight may well be a opportunity to give him that.

A clean sheet seems to be beyond us this season, so goals for are essential, WHU have more points playing away from home. Arsenal are struggling for fluency and confidence. Should be a good night.

We need 3 points and have the team to take them.

Let it be So

written by Big Raddy

 


The Best Ever Football Stadium Migration – You’re ‘Avin a Giraffe, Love

October 12, 2016

 

When the porn brothers announced their intention to move from one of London’s most feared stadiums to an athletics and concert venue, I like most regular fans felt a certain degree of unease.  Surely we didn’t need a 52,000 seat stadium especially one with a bloody great running track between the players and the old east side chicken run.

But then the spin began – 85% of supporters canvassed were in favour of the move, a new cantilever system would place seats where the running track would be, football would be once again affordable for the ordinary man (or woman) in the street, the transport links would be second to none, it will catapult us into the upper echelons of the premiership and challenging the traditional top four incumbents.  Oh and by the way, we’re gonna pay sweet fanny adams for the privilege – how could you possibly say no.

The final season at the Boleyn was so very West Ham.  For quite some time it looked like we could break into the top four and begin life at the Olympic Stadium with Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona and Juventus as regular visitors.  But of course, just like our dreams we faded and very nearly died only to deal Man United a third crushing blow (having denied them 2 Premier League Championships) and consign them to a season of Thursday night football.  Still 7th place was good enough to secure a place in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round and having re-configured the Man United team bus we said an emotional farewell to the old girl.

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The summer approached and we got to see images of our new ‘home’ – oh and by the way, it’s now called the London Stadium. Yep that’s right and oh, did we forget to tell you, we’re going to have a bit of a re-brand and our new badge, which all three of you who we consulted just love, also encompasses the word London, coz that’s where we’re from see!

In the meantime, the club announced we’d miraculously found an extra 5,000 seats and sold the lot.  But not to worry if you’ve not got a ticket, coz we’ve also found another 9,000 on top of that so now we’ve got London’s largest stadium and with a season ticket waiting list in excess of 50,000 we’ll have no trouble selling out every game.  Sounds too good to be true?  You bet.

You see, in The Duchesses excitement to do the deal of the century, she forgot some of the basics.

Now you’d think they would have tried to move/migrate like-minded fans to the same part of the ground.  You know, the 9,000 or so supporters who stood behind both goals together with those who stood in certain corners of the ground.  You know, the ones who got the singing going, gave the opposition players and fans untold grief – made Upton Park a cauldron of noise, overcame the sterilisation of all seated stadium and all that.  But know, they mixed the whole bloody lot up.

Secondly, you’d think that the club would want control of the security and stewarding so the customer experience was under their auspices.  But no, The Duchess got the deal of the century you see.  So she insisted the stadium owners handled that.  Which they sort of did by outsourcing these areas to the stadium operators who guess what – outsourced it to a French organisation who run the Stade de France.

Now you’d think they would look to re-hire all the stewards from the old ground.  The ones who know how to control football and in particular West Ham supporters.  But no – some went with but the majority have now resigned in protest at the atrocious methods being used.  You see those wanting to stand and those wanting to sit aren’t able to co-exist.  So what happens is the stewards wander around with clip boards, writing down seat numbers and those standing ticket holders receive warning letters and are told their tickets will be rescinded.   The more vociferous of these ‘stewards’ go after small pockets of standers and actually remove them from the ground and take their season tickets away.  As you can imagine, it doesn’t make for a very happy home.

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And then we have the home/away supporter segregation.  As has been reported, for the first few games, apart from a few seats, there was none.  The stewards had no experience of football fans, being mainly involved in keeping Elton John fans under control on a balmy summer evenings. At The London stadium it’s not just Saturday nights that are all right for fighting!  But surely the police sort these problems out I hear you say?  Nope, in her haste to seal the deal of the millennium, The Duchess decided to overlook the fact that the police stated they were unable to operate inside the stadium as it was currently configured.

And that’s just inside the stadium.  Outside and around the concourse there is absolutely no segregation and no plan for what to do at full time.  It is, as the saying goes, just one great big cock up.

But I’m afraid that’s not all.  To try and beef up the Elton John brigade, the outsourced, outsourced security have added a few night club bouncers – you can guess the rest!

On the other side of the away fans (think lower chicken run and upper east side at The Boleyn) we have the real hard core fans – that’s right 750 tickets sold via Thomas Cook to overseas ‘fans’ and anyone willing to also buy a night at a London Hotel.  Just doesn’t bear thinking about when certain teams come to visit.

But what about the views and the cantilever seating I hear you say.  A bloody joke I reply.  Billic spends half the match screaming 30 yards behind him at his coaching staff.  The pitch is ridiculously far from the pitch on all sides.  In short, this is not a football ground and never will be.  My heart truly aches for Upton Park and I feel the very soul of my club is being eroded.

And then, a couple of days ago, The Duchess appeared at ‘Leaders’ a football conference aimed at the good and the great of the game.  Much was made of her comments surrounded the lack of culture at the club when she arrived, however I’m prepared to overlook that as she was really referring to the ‘business culture’.  What didn’t get so widely reported, but was far more upsetting were her comments regarding the opportunity to ‘re-brand the club’ which is where the London nonsense comes from.  You see, The Duchess doesn’t want the traditional support turning up at ‘The London Stadium’.  She’s got a whole new plan in place, for pop corn munching, Coca Cola swilling ABC1’s to fill up all 66,000 seats and shout “Horrah, well done old chaps, jolly good play”.

So, Arsenal fans will have to wait until 3rd December to make their own minds up, unfortunately I won’t be there as I have decided to stay away until The Duchess decides to hang up her robe and get out of my club.  I still love West Ham United, but you can stick West Ham United London up yer a…….

written by West Ham Bob


What Happened Up at WHU?

April 12, 2016

It was as strange game; Arsenal scoring 3 goals away and yet taking only one point is unusual, as is a player scoring a hat-trick against us (when was the last time?).

We started with the team everyone wanted apart from the odd omission of Cech which IMO was massive. Cech dominates his area in a manner which Ospina cannot  and I am sure he would have stopped at least one of the goals.

Midfield: We were lauding our new defensively aware pairing of Coqeny, yet we were over-run for much of the game – how did that happen?

CB’s? Can’t really complain because they played as well as expected. Perhaps they could have got closer to Caroll for his second but it was a well taken goal.

And we were punished by Bilic’s tactic of attacking the space behind our full backs, WHU cleverly made sure that Caroll was challenging our wimpy Spanish fullbacks. Couldn’t see Lauren getting bullied like Bellerin was! Fortunately there are no teams in the PL who have such an aerially dominant CF.

Upfront: No complaints. We scored three, made other chances and Mr Wenger made attacking substitutions to try and win the game.

Referee: Bottled it. Our boys were continually hammered. A few more yellows, a straight red for Caroll was the least he could have done, but well-played the linesman who refused WHU a legitimate opener.

Looking at the stats, we dominated possession yet had fewer shots and less corners which indicates we were a bit too tippy-tippy and on a pitch which quite frankly was more suited to the Grand National than a football match we were always going to struggle.

Another way of looking at the game was that we took a point from a tough away fixture, played a part in an exciting 6 goal thriller and came back from a losing position

 


Ramsey or Iwobi to say Goodbye to the Boleyn?

April 9, 2016

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:

  1. 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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Liam Brady. It hurt so much to see a hero playing well for the claret and blue.
  5. John Radford. See 4. but thankfully he didn’t play very well for them – scoring zero goals in 28 apps!
  6. 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?

 


The Boleyn: A Hammer Reminisces

April 8, 2016

 

And so it approaches, the very last ‘London Derby’ at The Boleyn Ground.  Gooners everywhere know exactly the emotions we Hammers are supposed to be experiencing.  But here’s the thing, a bit like when we sold our family home of 22 years recently, it’s only bricks and mortar – nothing more nothing less.  Well NO actually.  This is nothing like the sale of our 4 bedroom semi nestled in the suburbs of St Albans.  This is my bloody ancestral home they’re getting rid of and I’m going to miss it big time.

I should have been a Gooner, all my family supported them, Dad had been a season ticket holder in the 50’s and 60’s.  Used to take me along in the mid-sixties, lifted me over the turn style gates and sat me on his knee watching the likes of Jim Furnell, Georgie Armstrong, George Eastham, John Radford et al.  But then he stopped going due to Saturday work commitments and my next door neighbour seized the day.

The day in question was Saturday 21st September 1974.  My first visit to Upton Park.  I will never forget queuing for over an hour to buy my seat in the Upper West Stand as it used to be known.  Leicester City were the opponents and walking up the steps from the concourse just felt so different to visiting other grounds.  Various family friends had dragged me to all manor of stadia in the hope of a new recruit- Shite Hart Lane, Underhill, Brisbane Road, Vicarage Road, Stamford Bridge (what a shit hole that used to be!).  But that day at The Boleyn was just meant to be – I knew I was home.  We beat Leicester 6 -2, including a couple from Billy Jennings and 2 from ex-gooner Bobby Gould.  How could I be anything but hooked.

So as we move closer to our last ever game at Upton Park, I thought I would recount three special games at the place I call home.

The 70’s were symptomatic of being a West Ham fan.  Cup Final win in 75, Cup Winners Cup Finalists in 76 and relegation in 78.  But then we began to build a new team as we enjoyed three cracking seasons in the old division 2 and managed to reach another FA Cup final – some of you may remember it (The Cup Final that is, not the new team).  Brooking was now in his prime, Devonshire marauding down the wing, the industry of Geoff Pike, the steel and work rate of Billy Bonds and a hard as nails centre forward in David Cross.

Winning the FA Cup once again meant a run out in Europe and after an eventful 2nd round tie against Real Madrid’s second team, Casillas, played at home in front of just 262 spectators in what was known as the Ghost Match, we progressed to the last eight.  I was at Upton Park that night for the quarter final tie in March vs Dynamo Tiblisi. A night that for me said everything that needed to be said about true Hammers.  We were played off the park.  Tiblisi ran rings around a very good West Ham team.  35,000 packed into ground and when the final whistle blew, all 35,000 stood and applauded the Tblisi players for a good 5 minutes as they took a ‘lap of honour’.  Of course we were gutted, but this, Big Fat Sam, was truly ‘The West Ham Way’.

Obscene I Tell You, Obscene

By the early 90’s we were becoming a true yoyo club and the 91-92 season was one that ended in relegation.  The penultimate game was against Man Utd with the Mancs favourites to pip Leeds United to the First Division Championship.  We were already down.  We beat them courtesy of a Kenny Brown toe poke and Taggart described our effort as obscene, rightly pointing out that a similar work rate would have seen us comfortably mid table.  But that’s who we are – starved of success, denying others had become our reason for being.

And so we arrived at the last game of the 1994-95 season.  We were back in the big time (now known as The Premier League) and Jack Walkers millions had set up a superb end to the season as Blackburn and Man Utd slugged it out for the winners trophy.  We were comfortably mid table, but Ferguson spent the week recounting the 1992 season ending story and warning his players what they were in for.  Public Enemy No.1 Paul Ince was coming back and a season high attendance of 24,700 awaited the clash.

Michael Hughes’s opener mid-way through the first half was greeted with wild celebration.  United needed to score twice to have any chance of taking the prize.  Roared on by 20,000 manical cockneys (I’d forgotten how crowds had dipped in football in the late 80’s early 90’s), the team made the 1992 performance look like a training ground workout.  Ludek Miklosko (he comes from near Moscow) produced one of the finest performances ever seen by a goalkeeper at Upton Park (think Robert Green in our first visit to The Emirates and multiply by two).  He was eventually beaten by a Brian McClair header but wave after wave of subsequent attacks were repelled.

Half the ground had radio’s pressed to their ears listening out for the Blackburn result at Liverpool.  And to cap off a perfect day, Liverpool scored a last minute winner meaning Blackburn still won The Premier League, but we’d gone and stopped The Mancs.

The joyous scenes reminded me of days when we had won promotion.  Ferguson moaned and bitched, Ince cried and we celebrated long into the night.

It’s Happening Again

Which now brings me to the third game and one which all Arsenal fans will likely remember.

7th May 2006.  The day when The Scum were convinced they were going to make the top four at the expense of their best friends at the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

Once again, we had finished in a respectable mid-table position.  We had a Cup Final to look forward to the following week and Spurs had assumed we would rest a bunch of players and roll over in case of injury before our trip to The Millennium Stadium.

I can safely say I’ve probably never been so excited before a match at Upton Park.  I know Arsenal fans believe they hold the exclusive license for despising Tottenham and their supporters, but believe me, we in the claret and blue area of London run a very close second.

As we were getting ready to go to the game, the news started to filter through that a dodgy pasta was working it’s way through much of the Spurs squad, literally.  Doubts started to be aired as to whether the game would go ahead.  But due to a combination of the games importance and our impending Cup Final, the match was given the go-ahead.

The atmosphere inside the ground was nothing short of surreal.  Grown men’s faces were contorted, saliva foaming from their mouths and abuse was flying in the direction of the blue and white half of London like I can’t remember.  Once again, Upton Park resembled Radio City as trannies were held to ears all over the stadium.  Thierry Henry put The Arse one up vs Wigan.  One Nil to The Arsenal sang 7/8ths of the ground.  Wigan equalised and there was an audiable groan throughout the ground, closely followed by mass celebrations from 3,000 pieces of Scum.  But then Carl Fletcher put us 1 up from 25 yards.  Paul Robinson tried to keep it out, but it’s not easy diving whilst you’re trying to keep your bum cheeks firmly shut.

Somehow Spurs managed to stay in the game, and Defoe drew them level before half time.  More goals followed at The Library and at half time, Spurs were clinging on to 4th place and a very short sojourn into Champions League Qualifying.

The second half continued at a furious pace, with Tottscum players visibly wilting.  At least two threw up on the pitch.  Every Aaron Lennon corner was greeted by a toilet roll being lobbed onto the pitch from the Chicken run.  Arsenal went 4-2 up.  “It’s happening again” sang three quarters of the ground.  Spurs had to match Arsenal’s result.  But West Ham looked the more likely to score.  And then it happened – The 80th minute and Yossi Benayoun hit a pearler from 10 yards.

Now I’ve witnessed some fantastic moments at Upton Park.  Ray Stewart’s 90 minute penalty vs Villa in a Cup Quarter Final, at least 3 Play Off wins, Di Canio’s volley versus Wimbledon, A Clive Allen tap-in securing promotion back to the old division 1.  But I can remember no goal being celebrated at wildly as Yossi’s.

And of course, as we approach the end of our era, it is worth remembering that the result that day made for a far better celebration as Arsenal spent the rest of the afternoon saying goodbye to Highbury.  I am told that at one point that afternoon, the sound of bubbles echoed around the old ground.

Our last ever game at The Boleyn was supposed to be against Swansea City, but due to our Cup run and a delayed Quarter Final replay coming up next week, we now have the delicious prospect of the last ever Cup and League games being against our old mates from Manchester and both evening games.  Somehow I think the supporters have at least one more magical night to look forward to.

And so to Saturday.

We are on a great run, but Bilic is clear that the Cup is our priority.  You boys are doing what you seem to do every year – fall away in February and then come back with a rattle in the final few games.  I’m a little pessimistic about this one, but I’m going to hold out for an entertaining 2-2 draw with both teams reduced to 10 men (Gabriel and Carroll).

See You at The Olympic Stadium!

written by West Ham Bob


Theo & Ox to Star

August 9, 2015

We have a treat as our season opening Pre-Match-, Young Bob has written another post. I hope you enjoy his analysis of today’s opposition ……

Big Raddy and I sat in a bar/restaurant in the Malmo sunshine last Wednesday eagerly anticipating Mission Impossible II (Malmo needing to win by three clear goals vs Red Bull Salzburg) and our thoughts turned to the season opener back in blighty where the mighty hammers are due to arrive at the Emirates as cannon fodder for the 2015/16 Gooners.

Following my article last year when I described 10 memorable Arsenal vs West Ham clashes, Raddy posed the question as to what I might like to write about this time.  “How about a look at players who have played for both clubs” I replied.  We then sat and named at least 10 players who had worn the finest silks of North and East London clubs (can you?).  And interestingly we couldn’t think of a single player who moved from East to North!  Anyway on my return home I decided to do a little more research and found some other smart arse had already written said article.  See link below.

http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2871/special/2010/03/19/1839103/premier-league-special-any-old-iron-the-arsenal-players-west-ham-

So, as an alternative, I thought it might be interesting to preview the game from the perspective of a die hard hammer.

The Hammers arrive at the Emirates with a new manager – ‘Honest Slaven Bilic’ (just ask Laurent Blanc) and the promise of a return to The West Ham way, something Big Fat Sam decided didn’t exist.  And the pre-season signs have been promising with build ups from the back and short passing through midfield.

At the back will be a debutant by the name of Angelo Agbonna, signed from Juventus for approx £6,000,000.  The jury is out as he’s looked a little ropey in pre-season, but an Italian defender can’t be all bad can they?  Joining Angelo at the back will be Arron Creswell (great going forward and average at the back) Joey O’Brien (just cack at everything he does) and one of James Collins, Winston Reid or James Tomkins with Reid being the pick of the three.

Our midfield is expected to feature two holding players in Mark Noble and Cheik Kayoute and three more forward thinking players in Mario Zarate, Matt Jarvis and Dimitri Payet.  Up front, ploughing a lonely furrow will be Diafra Sakho.

Noble will look like a decent player for 30 minutes or so, but for all his positive attributes, he’s incredibly one paced and chasing Arsenal’s quick moving passing game around the Emirates will end up with him looking like Hattie Jaques chasing Benny Hills Angels around a hospital car park.  Kayoute is an excellent player with leg’s longer than Jerry Hall’s.  I expect him to move on to better things within the year.

Moving on to the attacking prowess of the rip roaring hammers.

Jarvis used to be one of the best crossers of a football since Georgie Armstrong.  Now he just runs down blind alleys and the end product is non-existent.  Zarate could be anything, but most likely shit!  Signed by the porn brothers, discarded on-loan to QPR by BFS at the beginning of January, he was deemed unfit by Rangers, and nearly sent back to West Ham before the end of January.  Loves to pass, mostly to himself.  Payet however looks to be different gravy.  Top of the assists stats in France, he looks more like a Gooner than a Hammer, but if he sees enough of the ball, may just cause your lot a few problems.

And up front will be our outstanding success of last season.  Sakho could of course turn out to be a one season wonder, but I’ve got a feeling he’ll score another decent number of goals, ably assisted by Payet.

So, to my prediction.  Unfortunately I think Walcott and The Ox are likely to rip us a new one and I expect Arsenal to win by 3 clear goals.  However, in the spirit of last Wednesday when Malmo beat Red Bull 3-0 to progress to the next round of CL qualifying – you just never know!!

written by West Ham Bob

As to Big Raddy – well my initial focus this afternoon will be the team selection. Mr.Wenger has the “luxury”(?) of JW and Sanchez being unavailable, however when all are fit how will he arrange the team? Will we play with a front line of Walcott up top and Ozil, Sanchez and Ox zipping about behind him. Or will it be OG who is the fulcrum with Theo terrifying the opposition FB’s? Personally, I would pick The Ox as our right sided forward as I think he is about to develop into a true world-class player which will bring our complement up to 4 (Kos, Ozil, Sanchez or 7 if you include Santi, Cech and Aaron)

This is Cech first PL game as an Gooner, a fine signing and a top player. I wish him well.

Whomever lines up in the famous shirt will be expected to start the season in style and with 3 points. We need to win games like today and not give our rivals a head start as we did last season.

My hope and expectation that Bob is right ….. Theo and Ox will rip them a new one (but I expect OG to start)

BTW Can you think of any players who have moved from West Ham to Arsenal, we couldn’t!

COYRRG