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Marko’s penalty may herald end of an era

Marko Arnautovic’s penalty strike yesterday may well have  marked a major turning point in Mark Noble’s Hammers career.

There can be no reason in itself for changing spot kickers given the captain’s excellent strike rate so the question of course is a very simple: “Why?”

The answer seems pretty straightforward and may have been helped by Noble’s substitution on 77 minutes when being replaced by Luis Perez.

The strong word doing the round today follows Manuel Pellegrini’s admission a couple of weeks back that whilst he will remain skipper, Nobes may not necessarily always be playing, is that this may be the start of the process.

With so many options in and around midfield – which for all that remains a worrying area – Noble can no longer be seen as a regular starter.

And it may well be that as a result Pellegrini has decided he must change his penalty taker should there be circumstances in which the captain is not available.


Anderson under the spotlight


In our first player watch of the season, CandH’s Daniel Danielli Leach puts  Pellegrini’s main man Felipe Anderson under the PlayerWatch microscope.

1 – Tracks back and tackles Smith to send the ball out for a throw and preventing a cross
2 – Plays a through ball in the middle to Chicharito but it does not reach him
6 – Recieves the ball from Wilshere and dribbles down the wing before being tackled by Smith. However a foul is given for Bournemouth.
10 – Recieves a through ball from Arnautovic and his subsequent cross is deflected to Arnautovic outside the box but the attack does not materialize
13 – Makes a crucial tackle on Smith before he can cross the ball
17 – Fails a one two with Arnautovic as Arnautovic plays a poor pass back to him
23 – Dribbles in to the box and while cutting in Smith tackles him but he goes down forcefully to try and win a penalty
30 – Plays a great through ball to Chicharito in the box who is tackled and wins a penalty which Arnautovic scores
41 – When recieving the ball from Masuaku he tricks the defender by letting the ball run through his legs to Arnautovic.
43 – Clears Kings cross away for a throw
50 – Beats Brooks but the ball runs out for a throw
53 – Takes a very dangerous corner but offside is given against us
62 – Recieves the ball from Wilshere and dribbles down the wing cutting inside before putting a good cross for Chicharito
72 – Plays a great one two with Wilshere before making a through ball to Arnautovic on the wing
72 – In a separate phase of play a through ball to Arnautovic in the box is blocked
80 – He beats Smith before cutting in and passing the ball to Perez who puts in a good cross
80 – Puts in a great cross which just misses Arnautovic
81 – Cuts in again on the left hand side and plays a through ball which doesn’t reach Perez
83 – Beats Gosling in the left hand side and passes the ball to Perez who’s cross sails over the goal
90 – Makes a great switch of play to Yarmolenko on the right hand side
90+4 – Makes a great dribble but the ball is just out of play as he crosses the ball in

Verdict – 7Despite the result it was a good game for Anderson who is gradually adapting to the Premier League. In many times throughout the match he was a big threat on the left with blistering pace and good control and crosses of the ball even though he did not get much sight of  goal. He tracked back for us on many occasions and he linked up very well with Arnautovic and Wilshire. We need to see him get some shots away as he has a powerful strike.


Zaba refuses to make excuses about same old problems

Pablo Zabaleta is anxious that after a shocking start to the new season the hammers continue to experience “the same old problems.”

Zaba had a great game against Bournemouth and was at the heart of most good things the Irons managed to produce but afterwards he made it clear he’s not a happy bunny.

Speaking to West Ham TV he said:  “We’ve not had the greatest start to the season. Today was our first home game, in front of our fans, and we were positive for the game. We were thinking today was a good chance to get three points, but we had the same old problems.

“I think, psychologically, we need to change a little bit as a team. I thought we had a good 45 minutes. We were good, we were intense. But in the second half we didn’t have the same intensity, and we gave them the chance to score goals. That is what we have to improve on this season.

“We cannot be afraid when we are winning. We need to carry on playing in the way that we did in the first half.”

He added:  “I thought we played really well at times. We kept possession and we created a few good chances and we didn’t give them many chances to play. It was only one chance for them in the first half.

“In the second half, we dropped our intensity and this is the worst thing you can do as a team in the Premier League. We gave the ball away very easy and we should have done a lot better. We didn’t create much and without the ball we weren’t defensively strong enough.


“As a team we need to improve, but it’s not about individual players or mistakes. We need to get on with it together. We’ve got experience from last season. We cannot concede so many goals.”

Zabaleta knows the size of the challenge facing him and his teammates on Saturday. and said: “It’s another tough game away at the Emirates but there’s still a long way to go.

We cannot put ourselves in a situation where we don’t believe in what we are doing. We are working well in training but we’ve got so much room for improvement.

“We need to be positive. We have a new manager, new players, and a new style of football. It takes times. But as players we need to take responsibility because on the pitch, we make the decisions.”

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Back in that Hammers family was so humbling

By Hugh Southon

Arnie scores and my fan fever explodes

It’s dead easy to sit a distance watching streams of games and coming to conclusions – that has it’s place – notably on most away games.

But yesterday I rediscovered the joy of dropping everything in my media world and simply being a fan again and it was so good.

Why? Because you feel the same frustration, anger, disappointment and joy in the moments that count along with over 50,000 others. Family indeed.

Ok, we were beaten but there were first half signs that something was coming together until the wheels fell off after  half time and all the usual complaints set in.

It was easy to sympathise with a geezer who turned to me as we walked out and said: “Different year – same s..t.”

Hard to disagree on what we’ve seen so far and when you’ve spent money and travelled many miles defeat is the most intense and miserable experience in the world.

It also strips you of any media pomposity you may have felt in past years and it makes you understand the family to which we all belong.

Standing with arms outstretched singing Bubbles at the top of your lungs and giving your all for the team, brings a totally different dimension concept to life as a Hammer.

I can never go with the foul mouthed intensity of hatred we see on some social media outlets but yesterday brought a new mind set – an attending fan’s mindset.

So amid all the bitter disappointment and frustration there was pride and an overwhelming “I’m back where I started” feeling as I made the long trek home with a sad young Hammer for life – my grandson .

I’d have been there much more had I not been caring for my late wife over eight years – coming back was an uplifting experience!

Good on every one of you who has suffered down the years with the occasional bright spot thrown in – life as a Hammer is never gonna be easy but we soldier on.

I feel in a very real sense as if I came home yesterday and it was humbling and uplifting despite the numbers 1-2.



Confused fans find season tickets don’t work

It wasn’t only a case of trouble  on the pitch for the team against Bournemouth yesterday, there was confusion off it as some fans tried to gain access to the ground.

Both myself and grandson were EVENTUALLY let in through a side door to the turnstile after our season tickets failed to let us through.

We weren’t alone and tomorrow we will be trying to find out what the issue is and whether the club can solve it simply.

After journeys from various parts of Britain, the last thing anyone needs is to find they may not be getting into the game and it seems there were many in the same situation.

Please let us know if you were among those who had the same issue so we can put it on the club.


Wilshere blames “two sloppy goals” for defeat

Jack Wilshere admitted the players are devastated after losing a match from which he believes they should have taken something.

The midfielder was in great form early on as the Hammers took a measure of control against an always threatening Bournemouth team.

And afterwards he said: “We are a team and we win as a team and we lose as a team. I felt we controlled the first half and parts of the second half as well, but you can’t give players that kind of space in this league or you’ll get punished. The second goal was a set piece that we’re not happy about.

“We can take the positives from the game that we kept the ball well at times and, on another day, we’d go in two or three-nil up, but it wasn’t to be.”

We have got a lot of new players and we need to gel. At this level in this league, people aren’t given time, so we have to do it quick and all tuck in this week.

“We started well and we all wanted to win this week and we felt we were good enough to win. Obviously, the dressing room is devastated because we should have come away with something from the game, but we have to go again.

“That’s the thing about this league, that you haven’t got much time to be down. You have to be back on the training pitch and go again.”

It’s Jack’s former team Arsenal next week and the midfielder said: “It won’t be easy.. “We’ve had a tough start but you have to be willing to fight against anyone in this league and win your duels and earn your right to play, and I felt we did that at times.

“We played as a team, but we let in two sloppy goals.”


Disappointing Hammers need more time

Irons 1 Cherries 2

Personal circumstances have dictated that I have been unable to get to the London Stadium until today (Sat)!

I won’t go into the reasons for my absence other than to say they involved my wife who has since passed away.

Now I shall be making the near 500 round journey from Devon each Saturday we are at home despite what I saw this afternoon.

Let me get one thing out of the way immediately, I love the stadium and that comes from a guy who spent years watching at Upton Park.

As for the football that was on display, I thought in the first half there were clear signs of how the new man at the helm will be guiding the team as they pressed forward and  showed  the importance of playing a possession game.

It certainly wasn’t perfect but there was plenty to admire and when Arnautovic converted a penalty the game was there for the taking.

What happened at half time is a mystery because the Hammers came out like men who had fallen asleep and hadn’t fully woken up – the problem was it lasted for the entire 45 minutes and Bournemouth took full advantage with goals from Wilson and Cook.

The Cherries looked more together, more integrated and played some very good one touch football and it would be only the most narrow minded Hammer to deny them their win.

They were better than us and at the end of a four and half hour journey home I still haven’t quite worked out why.

Felipe Anderson at £35 million was a disappointment and clearly much is expected of him whilst Jack Wilshere showed some lovely early touches before fading.

Defensively we looked a mess and Fabianski – as he did at Liverpool – earned his money with a couple of great saves.

I’m sure this manager will get things together but as has been said many times now it’s going to take a bit of time and this – despite the disappointment – is still not the time to over-react.

A word for Zaba who I thought was special at times working down the right, defending well and delivering some dangerous stuff into the heart of the Cherries defence.





Pellegrini: “The team lacked trust”

Manuel Pellegrini summed up the defeat against Bournemouth perfectly but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

After showing signs in the first half of what this team can become they strolled through the second giving a totally slovenly and lifeless performance.

And Pellegrini nailed it in his post match presser saying: “I was happy with the first 45 minutes. I thought the team was playing well, we weren’t having too many problems defending and we dominated most parts of the game.

“We scored a goal and had other chances, but I think maybe in the second half

“I was happy with the first 45 minutes. I thought the team was playing well, we weren’t having too many problems defending and we dominated most parts of the game.

“We scored a goal and had other chances, but I think maybe in the second half the team was lacking trust in keeping that lead and trying to score another goal.

“It should be your best moment because when you are winning 1-0 you have more time to prepare [your attacks]. The other team must give you more space, but we made some mistakes for the goals.

“The first was one player against four, and the second is from a set piece so I feel that we need to work very hard to recover that trust as a team and as individual players.

“In football, a lot of times you miss some chances, but you must keep playing in the same way.

“At half-time we talked about not to work at just keeping the 1-0, but to carry on with the pressing to try and decide the game in the second half.

“But we couldn’t do it because we stayed on our own side too much and made some mistakes in defending.

“We knew before that we need time when you have a new manager, new players and a new style of play, but most of all, we need to forget about last season, recover the trust in each player and what they can do, and that’s what we must work on in the next week.”



How we rated the Irons v Bournemouth



Niall McDonald hands out the marks

Fabianski: One brilliant reaction save early on. No nonsense punches from corners and looked confident 7
Zabaleta: Standard fare from the Argentina 5
Ogbonna: Mediocre.. Booked for a clumsy challenge and left standing from the resultant corner for the winner 4
Balbuena: Sketchy distribution at times but looked far more comfortable defending today than at Anfield 6
Masuaku: An afternoon to show off his attacking skills yet seemed reluctant to get too far forward 5
Noble: Saw an awful lot of the ball in the first half; subbed on 75 mins 4
Wilshere: One-touch passes were a joy to behold early on. Seemed pretty weary by the time he was moved forward chasing the game 5
Snodgrass: Got an appreciative welcome and put in the sort of competent display on the right I’d hoped for 6
Anderson: Struggled, being given his first taste of the pace and physicality of the Premier League 4
Hernandez: A rare start! Wasn’t given many opportunities to affect the game 5
Arnautovic: Our new penalty-taker? Thankfully he buried it. By a distance our most powerful and direct attacker 7

Yarmolenko: Watched the winner go in as he waited to come on. Looked very neat and skillful coming in off the right-wing. Worth a starting place on this evidence  6
Perez:  Couple of runs in the inside-left channel 3
Sanchez: Mobile. Had a few chances to move the ball on. Maybe worth a starting place as well 4

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Great news on Lanzini

Manu Lanzini is looking forward to returning to the Hammers squad before the end of the season.

The great news comes after there were big suggestions that the play maker could be facing an end of career scenario on his badly damaged cruciate ligament.

Manu suffered the injury during the warm up for Argentine’s World Cup challenge but is now rehabbing after surgery from a top specialist in Barcelona.

We were told earlier today that whilst it sensible to remain cautious, the signs are encouraging and that he is slightly ahead of a schedule which some believed would see him out of action until next season.

Manu himself has always been confident he would make a quicker than expected return claiming in the summer that he saw himself back in action after Christmas.

That may be a tad over optimistic but we were told: “He is doing well and there is now great confidence he will be back before the end of the season.”