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Unluckiest Iron has time on his side

 

By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings

 

Is Issa Diop the unluckiest player at the club right now?

It’s never easy for any footballer sat on the sidelines watching his side play and while Issa will be delighted at how well his team mates are performing , he must be left wondering when he will get the chance to re-join the action.

What must be particularly galling for Diop is the way he lost his place in the side. A dip in form or an unfortunate injury are part and parcel of a footballer’s world. But when a player loses his place because of something totally unrelated to football, as Issa did when he tested positive for Covid 19, it must really hurt.

Issa Diop chomping at the bit for a return

Ironically Diop fell foul to the dreaded virus at the same time as manager David Moyes . But while Moyes returned to full first team duties a few weeks ago, Issa is still sat on the bench clicking his heels, because of the continuing good form of Fabian Balbuena.

Following his £25m move from Toulouse in the summer of 2018, Diop quickly established himself in the West Ham first team, becoming an instant hit with the fans who loved his enthusiasm and total commitment.

There was also a realisation we had bought ourselves a genuinely talented young defender. Having represented his native France at every level of youth international football, Issa had also won himself a place in the Under-21 side – with many observers predicting full international honours were only just around the corner.

It has to be said Issa suffered a slight dip in form last season compared to his first with us – but even so he made 31 first team appearances, including appearing in all nine games of Project Restart, when many felt he was getting back to his best.

But after playing the first two games of this campaign, fate in the shape of Covid struck a heavy blow. There was a thought Diop might get a first team recall after his 63rd minute appearance as a substitute for the injured Angelo Ogbonna in the Fulham game.

But our big Italian benefitted from the international break and was fully fit again for last Sunday’s win at Sheffield United. So Issa was back on the bench at Bramall Lane.

David Moyes emphasised in his last presser how pleased he was that we now had strong competition for places in the squad – something he’s been working to achieve.

But while that’s a manager’s delight – it can be a footballer’s dilemma. Issa has time on his side, he’ll be just 24 next January, so almost certainly his best years are still ahead of him.

He also knows that in this most hectic of seasons his opportunity will surely come round again – and he needs to be ready to step up and take full advantage.

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Beware Grealish’s history you Irons

West Ham will have to be at their very best as they look to stop Jack Grealish from making a serious  impact during Monday’s clash with Aston Villa.

The England international has history for, how shall we put it, simulation in and around the penalty area.

He is, of course, a brilliant player on his day and, at his best, becomes one of the most difficult players in the country to handle..

This season, he has already scored five goals and registered six assists in all competitions.

He will be Villa’s focal point throughout Monday’s game and that means the Hammers need to stay on their feet!

In the current culture, VAR micro-analyses every single decision, slowing it down to a 10th of a second to try to make the right call.

If there is even the slightest contact and Grealish hits the deck, it could easily see a penalty awarded.

The Hammers have already been bitten by that after Mo Salah was handed a penalty in the defeat to Liverpool.

We couldn’t have a better marker, of course, should  Declan be assigned a man-marking job on Grealish throughout the 90 minutes.

The two are good pals and play together for England, so Rice will know what needs to be done to keep the Villa skipper quiet.

The best piece of advice that we can give you lads is this: Stay on your feet!

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Fabianski pinpoints Moyes’ huge moment

Lukasz Fabianski has pinpointed the exact moment West Ham’s fortunes changed.

The Hammers began the season, of course, with successive defeats against Newcastle and Arsenal.

However, a switch in formation saw Moyes move to a system involving three at the back, resulting in a much improved performance against the Gunners.

Since then, the Hammers have only lost once in the top-flight, to champions Liverpool, and have won their last two games in succession.

Monday’s game against Aston Villa offers the Irons the chance to leapfrog Dean Smith’s side, who are currently seventh.

Should results go their way, the Hammers could climb as high as fifth.

And goalkeeper Fabianski believes that the switch in formation has worked wonders for the Hammers as the season progresses.

Speaking on the club’s YouTube channel, as transcribed by HITC, he said: “I believe, from the moment we changed the system. I think it helped us a lot, because we became a lot more solid defensively.

“And in this system as well we managed to for some reason to be more fluent going forward. I think this system suits us.

“I think we have a lot of good players who can play in this system, so I think it has worked for us, and I would say that is a bit of a change from the previous spell where we struggled.”

Fabianski has played the 90 minutes in every single Premier League game thus far this season.

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Moyes thrilled with depth

David Moyes is thrilled with the strength in depth of the West Ham squad.

The Hammers have been in fine form in recent weeks and have lost just one of their last seven games in the Premier League.

Monday’s clash with Aston Villa looms large, a game against a team who are one place and one point above the Irons in the league.

Ahead of the game, Moyes has discussed the squad that he has, and has expressed how delighted he is with the players available to him.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the game, he said: “Yes, we want competition for places.

“I think we’ve got that now. We’ve got a few people who are queuing up, waiting to try and break into the team and get into the side.

“So hopefully when they get the opportunity they’ll be ready, but yeah we’ve got good competition at the moment.”

Eight separate players have scored the Irons’ last eight goals, and Moyes has revelled in the fact that so many options within his squad are coming up trumps.

He added: “It is good and I’m really pleased with it, I didn’t actually know that stat but I think that it does show that we’re trying to get different people forward and get different people in the box.

“We’d like our centre-forwards to come in with the big numbers because that’s what you need at the end of the season but I have to say I’ll take goals from wherever they come and I’m pleased that everybody’s getting the chance to get a few goals.”

Moyes has made it clear on several occasions that he prefers to work with a smaller squad and thus far can’t be faulted on how he has used it given the results.

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Ginge on our “phenomenal” defender

James Collins has paid a massive tribute to his former team-mate Angelo Ogbonna.

And there can be little doubt that the Italian central defender – along with Declan and Tomas in midfield has been one of the three outstanding players at the club so far this season and indeed during the last part of the 19/20 season.

Like Fabian Balbuena before him, Oggy found himself out of favour for a lengthy period at one stage of his Hammers career but has battled his way back in and is now probably recognised as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League.

He has been a regular seven or eight-man during the latest games and with the aforementioned Balbuena has now been at the heart of two clean sheets against Fulham and Sheffield United.

Ginge is full of praise for the man who will tomorrow be important in a match which should we win will have us all dreaming a few impossible dreams perhaps!

Commenting at https://www.whufc.com/news/articles/2020/november/28-november/inside-irons-james-collins-double-signings-champagne-old he said: “We look at lot more organised at the back. We don’t look like conceding too many goals.

I think Angelo Ogbonna has been phenomenal, and all the boys know their jobs and, knowing the manager, if they don’t do it then they won’t play.

“I think Angelo has been superb. He seems to have taken on the role of main man; he’s the main centre-back there and I think he’s performing consistently well.

He’s always been a good centre-half but he’s one of the best in the league at the minute. I think we’ve been excellent. I think David Moyes deserves massive credit.

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Rice in boastful mood!

West Ham Skipper Declan Rice has boasted we have got the joint second-best defensive record in the Premier League and that will put them in a good position to face Aston Villa on Monday night who have also been in good form.
Rice said that the Hammers are moving in the direction the manager wants  adding the squad is full of confidence and ready for the battle with the Villians at the London Stadium.
West Ham are joint top in clean sheets with four along with Aston Villa, Chelsea, Southampton and Wolves.
The Hammers have conceded just ten goals this season, one less than Spurs , with three of those against West Ham.
West Ham ten goals were conceded against Newcastle (2) Arsenal (2) Spurs (3) Liverpool (2) and Man City (1)
That makes the Hammers joint second on conceded goals along with Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal – frankly a really remarkable turnaround from last season and one from which we can justifiably be proud.
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Irons misfit’s misery goes on

Felipe Anderson’s misery continues after he was an unused substitute in FC Porto’s Champions League game against Marseille in midweek

He has only played 52 minutes of football in the five matches during his Porto loan spell and looks more and more like a misfit.

He came on a 59th minutes substitute with former Hammer Toni Martinez against Sporting Lisbon on 17th October in a 2-2 draw for his 31-minute debut.

He also came on as a 72nd-minute substitute against Pacos Ferreira in a 3-2 loss on 30th October playing a further 18 minutes for Porto.

We revealed he had a small knock keeping out of the Porto squad but he is now fully fit and available for selection.

ClaretandHugh also revealed that there is no break in his loan agreement and that he will be tied to the Portuguese club until the end of the season.

There is no option in the loan arrangement for the deal to be made permanent at the end of the campaign.

Last week Porto boss Sergio Conceicao said  “I don’t like to individualise, but Felipe Anderson has been working very well. As far as training is concerned, there is absolutely nothing to say.
These two weeks of work were important and Felipe was also included. It depends on his ability to put in training what I want so that he is visible in the game, but of course I count on him.”

 

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Moyes reveals likely Villa squad

David Moyes says he is likely to have an almost fully-fit squad to choose from when West Ham plays Aston Villa on Monday night.

The manager has Andriy Yarmolenko returning from self-isolation and Michail Antoniohas been training for a full week.

Moyes can obviously see no reason to change a winning team apart, maybe, from the possible inclusion of Antonio so assuming there are no fresh injury concerns one would expect him to name the same team that beat Sheffield United and Fulham.

Like Issa Diop and Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio may be forced to wait to get his starting place back with the manager unlikely to drop members of his back to back wins.

Seb Haller will be keen to get on the score sheet again helping secure another win and in the process keeping Antonio on the bench.

Predicted West Ham Starting XI  Fabianksi, Cresswell, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Coufal, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku, Fornals, Bowen, Haller

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West Ham to discover FA Cup fate

The draw for the third round proper of the Emirates FA Cup will take place on the evening of Monday 30 November, following the weekend’s second-round action.

Clubs from the Premier League and EFL Championship join the competition at this stage,

Fans will be able to watch this season’s draw at around 7.10 pm on Monday, just before the final second-round tie between Canvey Island and Boreham Wood, two of the remaining non-League clubs who will be keen to see what lies in store for the winners.

The draw will be shown live on the official Emirates FA Cup YouTubeTwitter and Facebook channels as well as forming part of BT Sport’s live coverage of Monday’s game.

This season’s third round proper will take place across the weekend of Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 January 2021, with the 32 winning clubs at this stage collecting £82,000 from the competition’s prize fund.

West Ham ball number is 42 for the draw!

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Fan return plunged into doubt

The return of fans to stadiums appears to have been plunged into doubt, according to a new report from The Daily Telegraph.

COVID restrictions mean that half of the clubs in the Premier League will not be able to welcome supporters back in the coming weeks.

London is in Tier 2, though, meaning that West Ham do have the ability to welcome fans back into the London Stadium.

Along with West Ham, fellow top-flight clubs Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, and Brighton can bring 2,000 fans back into their respective grounds.

However, the Telegraph now reports that clubs are set to be forced to stage test events first, which would involve 1,000 fans.

In August, the Sports Ground Safety Authority issued a “strong” recommendation that test events be held before the return of supporters to live sport.

It is not confirmed that the test events will go ahead, and the clubs could resist it, but if the test events do happen, and they are failed, it would cast a shadow over the prospect of getting back to some degree of normalcy.

The majority of clubs will be holding ballots of season ticket holders to decide which fans can watch Premier League football in person again.