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A look on the bright side of life against Arsenal


By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings


This Saturday we go looking for something that hasn’t exactly been a regular occurrence over the years.

‘Fortress Highbury’ and ‘Fortress Emirates’ both have genuine claims to their titles for Arsenal. Relieving the Gooners of any points on their own patch has been difficult to say the least for West Ham over the years.

It certainly won’t be any easier this time round either. The Gunners started the season well with a 3-0 victory at Fulham. We of course suffered a hugely disappointing failure to gain anything from our opening encounter against Newcastle.

It’s going to be a tough ask on Saturday night. But it’s not an impossible task, as history proves. And when it happens, victory is sweet and memorable. To give ourselves some much needed encouragement in the lead up to the game, here’s a look back at four hugely satisfying victories over our north London neighbours.

The opening day of the 2015-16 season saw new manager Slaven Bilic take the Hammers to the Emirates for his first Premier League game in charge, meanwhile Arsenal also had a debutant in Petr Cech in goal. But the big news before kick-off was the inclusion in our line-up of Reece Oxford, at the tender age of 16 years and 236 days.

Oxford played in midfield and totally dominated Arsenal’s star player, Mezut Ozil, in an outstanding performance for such a youngster. A first half goal from Cheikhou Kouyate and a second half strike from Mauro Zarate secured all the points for the happy Hammers.

When we visited Highbury on the 1st February 2006 we knew it would probably be the last time we played at that famous old ground, before the Gunners move to the Emirates. It was quite a game to say goodbye. A five goal thriller, with goals from Nigel Reo-Coker, Bobby Zamora and Matty Etherington ensuring us of all three points.

It turned out to be the last time any away side celebrated a win at Highbury. The following season, and our first visit to the brand new Emirates, came on the 7th April 2007. West Ham were sat precariously in the relegation zone, desperate for points, while the Gunners were their usual formidable self, unbeaten on their new patch.

But that changed courtesy of a Bobby Zamora chip over Jans Lehman to give us a 1-0 lead. But the real hero of the day was Rob Green in the West Ham goal who stood defiant to everything Arsenal threw at him. We came away with a victory – earning the right to claim a place in the history books as the ‘last team at Highbury – first team at Emirates’ to defeat the Gunners.

As enjoyable as those three victories were, my personal favourite was an FA Cup quarter final victory from 1975. We were struggling in the league (nothing changes) while Arsenal were doing what they usually did, winning games with great regularity.

But with new striker Alan Taylor in our ranks, and a good cup run in our sights, West Ham totally upset the form book to come away with a 2-0 victory, both goals coming from the new boy. We went on to Wembley that year, and our FA Cup Final win over Fulham.

Happy days from the past – and proof that anything is possible in football with the right application.

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Moyes wants quality not quantity

David Moyes wants to sign quality players before the transfer window closes on 5th October and is not interested in mediocre players often put forward by desperate agents just trying to take their commission.

Moyes is keen to avoid mistakes of previous West Ham managers who agreed to sign players suggested by favoured agents and/or presents from the board.

The 57-year-old Scot is his own man and wants to do things professionally and doesn’t like to be rushed as he carries out full due diligence before committing to signing new players.

He has turned down numerous agent suggestions in this window including a young centre back from Manchester City and a South American striker on loan.

The manager has no interest in just filling squad places for the sake of it and only wants players who can improve the squad and hit the ground running.

That strategy is likely to frustrate the board and the supporter base but the gaffer wants quality and not quantity when it comes to players he signs off on and puts his name to.

There are 17 days until the transfer window closes.


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Moyes edging towards new signings next week

David Moyes has claimed he is edging towards two new signings next week saying he has a couple of offers in for different players and he hopes to have more news soon.

The manager gave his transfer update in his Friday lunchtime Zoom pre-match press conference ahead of the Arsenal game on Saturday.

Asked what he needs to do to improve the squad he told journalists that he has inherited an imbalanced squad with a lot of wide players but fewer defenders to choose from.

Explaining that he has lost Ngakia, Zabaleta and Reid he admitted that he is short defensively.

The 57-year-old manager said he has tried to bring defenders in this transfer window without success so far but he always has the option of playing Declan Rice at centre back as well.

As reported on Claret and Hugh earlier West Ham have submitted a final offer for James Tarkowski worth up to £35m.

And Moyes said, per Football.London: “We’re edging towards. We have a couple of offers in for different players so I hope we might have some news next week.”


‘Very highly rated’ – Surprise training claim around ace

Ex West Ham Employee has claimed that Arthur Masuaku is one of the highest-rated players in the Irons squad when it comes to training.

Speaking on his podcast, the self-styled insider believes that the left-back is revered by his team-mates, who believe he should be playing regularly.

He said: “He’s very highly rated by the players.

“When I’ve had conversations with the players they will say things like ‘Arthur’s the best player in training’, ‘Arthur should be in the team’ bla, bla, bla.

I don’t know the answer to that (why Masuaku isn’t picked). You need to ask (David) Moyes I guess.”

Masuaku made just 10 Premier League starts last season and was not involved in the first game of the campaign this time out, against Newcastle, and is not exactly seen as an integral member of the squad.

He was not involved in the matchday squad for the 2-0 loss to the Magpies, instead playing 90 minutes in the EFL Cup against Charlton Athletic.

It remains to be seen if he will be involved this weekend when the Hammers take on Arsenal, as he appears to be well behind Aaron Cresswell in the pecking order under David Moyes.

Nevertheless, it seems he is rated by his team-mates and maybe that’s the real quiz after all.


Two injury doubts for Arsenal

David Moyes has given his team news in his Friday lunchtime Zoom pre-match press conference ahead of the Arsenal game on Saturday.

Speaking to journalists via video conferencing the manager confirmed that captain Mark Noble has picked up a toe injury and hasn’t been risked in training; he will be assessed again tomorrow.

Jack Wilshere, who missed the midweek game against Charlton after picking up a new injury, should be fit and has resumed training but is unlikely to make the matchday squad.

Moyes explained Wilshere has had a scan which has revealed a bit of bone growth but they think he is okay.

The 57-year-old manager is expected to have a fully fit squad apart from two doubts to choose from when West Ham face Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday evening.

Asked whether he is under pressure to get something out of the game tomorrow he replied he is under pressure for every game, and this is no different.

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Board’s vow of silence

West Ham are introducing as strict a vow of silence as possible over the widely discussed takeover along with player purchases.

The club has finally become aware that too many leaks have been escaping into the media and are determined to keep everything as quiet as possible from here on in.

Interestingly, the move is believed to have been driven by West Ham Vice-chairman Karren Brady when the subject became an issue at the latest board meeting.

If that truly is the case it’s ironic given that she is responsible for writing a column in The Sun in each week when club matters are often mentioned.

Some fans have long believed the club has been conducting its business too publicly.

The board appears to have finally accepted that to be the case and agreed on a mass media ban so it came as a surprise when David Sullivan is understood to have made comments to his pal Jim White ahead of a recent Talksport radio show on the possibility of selling out.

White claimed that he had asked one of the owners – believed to be Sullivan – and the reply had been: “Not at the moment” which only served to ramp up thoughts that he might!



Haller report claims payment yet to be paid

The Times today has reported that FIFA has demanded that West Ham pay Frankfurt after the players’ status committee ruled.

The report says: “Fifa has ordered West Ham United to pay Eintracht Frankfurt £5.2 million after a dispute between the two clubs over money owed from the transfer of the striker Sébastien Haller. The latest instalment for the London club’s record £45 million signing was due on May 15 but was not paid, leading the German club to report the matter to football’s world governing body.

It is understood that Fifa’s Players’ Status Committee has ruled on the dispute in Eintracht’s favour and has ordered West Ham to make the payment for the striker, who has scored nine goals in 36 games since joining in July last year.

Sources close to West Ham said the delayed payment was not related to any cashflow problem caused by the coronavirus crisis but was connected to a contractual issue with Eintracht. West Ham should escape any sanction from Fifa if they pay the outstanding amount promptly and do not delay any further payments.

The club are in the process of making the payment.

Fifa’s rules state that “clubs are required to comply with their financial obligations towards players and other clubs as per the terms stipulated in the contracts signed with their professional players and in the transfer agreements”.

Any club found to have delayed a due payment for more than 30 days without an agreement “may be sanctioned”.

The range of sanctions can vary from a warning or reprimand and a fine up to, for repeat offences, a transfer ban.”

Club insiders insist that the latest Times report is no different from an article published by the Daily Telegraph 10 days ago and say nothing has changed since then.

It is thought that FIFA are yet to formalise the findings of their committee and West Ham has yet to pay the German club following a contractual dispute.

The club believes the matter will soon be settled  and no sanction will be incurred by the Hammers.


Report: Rice bid planned

Chelsea are set to table a bid for Declan Rice in the coming weeks according to a report.

Simon Phillips, a journalist who covers the Blues, claims that they are closing in on the signing of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Ligue 1 club Rennes

And following that, they are poised to step up their efforts to sign defensive midfielder Rice from the Hammers.

He wrote on Twitter: “Mendy will be confirmed soon. Then Chelsea will make an offer for Declan Rice. Strap in for a busy last couple of weeks with outgoings as well!”

West Ham have, thus far, maintained that there has yet to be a bid tabled for the 21-year-old or even an enquiry.

But it appears that the west London club are going to step up their efforts to land Rice, who has become a genuine star at the London Stadium.

He played in every single game of the 2019/20 league season and has also become a key member of Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

Rice also played 90 minutes in the first game of this season, as the Irons lost 2-0 to Newcastle at the weekend.


Hammers announce season ticket renewal figure

West Ham have announced a season ticket renewal rate of 88 per cent on the official club website

With a total of 54,000 West Ham season ticket holders, the announcement suggests that over 47,500 renewed in one form or another.

That number is thought to include Club London members in corporate hospitality who already signed up for three years and any band 5 season tickets already on a two-year season ticket.

Over 6,500 have given up their London Stadium seats for good and their seats will be made available to others.  The ticket office have announced they will not be selling any new season tickets for this coming season at this time.

With over one-third of the 47,500 choosing option three, it means over 16,500 will not be entered into the automatic ballot and are unlikely to attend any games this season.

That would leave around 31,000 season ticket holders who paid upfront with option one or two will now be entered into the ballot when games with supporters return.

Limited capacities were due to return in October with the Man City game on 24th October earmarked but that is now in doubt.

The London Stadium has 66,000 seats so if a 25 per capacity limit is introduced it would a mean a return of about 16,500 supporters giving season ticket holders a one in two chance of winning the ballot.


It’s a Tarkowski stand-off as Hammers wait

West Ham and Burnley are locked into a James Tarkowski stand-off with the Hammers claiming they have made a final £35 million offer which includes £5 million of add ons.

Burnley had placed a £50 million price tag on the central defender who missed the Carabao Cup clash against Sheffield United last night which the Clarets won via a penalty shoot-out.

The Clarets are waiting for what they believe may be a new final Hammers bid for the central defender but we understand the club has reached its limit.

That is the widely reported £30 million but includes another £5 million in add ons as is usually the case in such scenarios.

These can include the player featuring in a certain number of games and helping the club making certain positional and cup achievements.

The Hammers will be going no higher but Burney will hold out hope that they will make a new offer to clinch the deal, which puts the negotiations in what were described to CandH as a “standoff phase.”

We understand that whilst the Hammers hope Burnley pick up the ‘phone and say “ok that’s a deal” manager David Moyes continues to look at the loan market as a productive area should Tarkowski stay at Turf Moor as he looks also for full-backs.