David Moyes gave his virtual pre-match press conference on Friday lunchtime at the London Stadium and this is what he said.
Any team news, please?
Well, we have got just about everybody the same, we have Pablo Fornals improving and on the injury front, Angelo Ogbonna is closing in and getting much closer to fitness but not just yet he is still a wee bit away.
Arthur Masuaku and Andriy Yarmolenko are both much closer as well so hopefully it won’t be too long until we are back to a full squad.
How crucial is this game in terms of your push for a top-four finish this season?
It’s incredibly important if we are pushing for the top four which we are going to try and do but let’s be fair the words you are saying there ‘pushing for a top four’ is something which has not been associated with West Ham that often. We will try and do our best.
I think Arsenal are an improving side, they have shown it in their performances recently. I think Mikel is building a really good team there and it will be a tough game.
I am sure they will have taken confidence from winning a local derby but this is our game and we are interested in West Ham, we know that Arsenal have a lot of strengths in how they play and we will do our best to nullify them and we will do our best top put over what we are good at as well.
What did you make of Jesse Lingard getting an England call-up?
I am really pleased for Jesse it is great for him, his performances have warranted it in how he has played for us.
His performances have been great for us and I have to say he has been very good, we just hope that continues. We want him to be positive and show exactly what he can do on the pitch and he has helped us, he has been a good acquisition for the squad in January and I hope he can add a few more goals before the end of the season.
Has this strengthened West Ham case to have him join permanently?
We have not thought about that really, we have not taken it any further at the moment. We have him on loan and he is doing a good job for us just now, I think we will discuss that and probably look at it at the end of the season but it is not something that we have taken any further than the situation we are in just now.
What have you made of Mikel Arteta’s first full season in charge of the club?
I think for any young manager to go into a club the stature of Arsenal is a big job and I think that there has been so much success at Arsenal over many many years and what they have done it was going to be a hard job for anybody.
The one thing Mikel has got is a great playing experience, he understands the club from that point of view, we worked under a great manager in Arsene Wenger there. He has also had the chance to have a couple of years watching Pep [GUardiola] at Manchester City, so he has had a great opportunity to learn from that, and then he has to go and be his own person as well.
I think Arsenal were going to take a little time to develop, I don’ think it was something which he could do overnight and change. But I think they are starting to look as if they are going in the right direction.
The one thing you have to say about Mikel is with the FA Cup and CHairty Shield, what a great start for any young manager to say that you have got a couple of trophies under your belt so he has had a great start in his early managerial career and I have no doubt it will go on and on.
What is your relationship with Mikel like these days?
Manager to manager.. well it was great player to manager because it is easier to have a much better relationship. But I have to say he was a great player for me as well when he was at Everton.
He transformed how things were done, him and Steven Pienaar made an incredible difference at Everton and Mikel was a big part of that. The way we developed Everton over the years Mikel was really important to it and he’ll have seen that and seen how in that period, maybe not with the level of players he has got, but how to build teams and find different ways of winning and Mikel will be sort of thinking about moving Arsenal in the right direction.
He has got them into the quarter-final of the Europa League now and I am sure he will be hoping he can get them higher in the league but I hope it is not because of us and we are able to beat them and he doesn’t move up the league.
How much of a boost would a win on Sunday be going into the international break?
It would be terrific if we can win again, we have done well in our games at home and we are beginning to show a bit more consistency in our home form. we are in a period where we have had some difficult games, we have and Tottenham here recently, we went to Man City, Manchester United so we are in a difficult run of games, Arsenal included in that.
And I remember when those fixtures were brought out at the start of the season and everybody went ‘oh wow West Ham have got a really tough opening part of the season and that is the part of the season we are in against just now so we are in a tough.
We want to hang in there and keep up with the top boys and we are going to try and keep picking up as many wins as we can.
How has Jesse Lingard looked in training this week?
He has looked very good and I think since he came in everybody has been a bit surprised with how good his fitness is, how good his all-round game is.
I can see by the way he is working he is even getting better, his physical data has got better and overall he has been very good for us. He has helped us and given us another string to our bow and given us more attacking options so we are really pleased with him.
Arsene Wenger said London derbies make it hard to achieve things for a London team. Do you understand where he is coming from in that and has a lack of crowds had any effect on that this year?
Well I think missing the crowd here has certainly been a big miss for us and we have had a good season and whether that is because of London derbies or not London derbies we are having a good season at this moment in time.
I wish we had supporters in to see it because I would love them to see how well the players are playing and what they are doing and the results have been going well. But I think that our last win against Tottenham here which will be something we will think about, we won that, a real tight game.
I think Arsene Wenger is probably alluding to that, I do think if you are in a city with lots of derbies it is very difficult to win them all because quite often the derbies are tight, form goes out the window a little bit, all those sorts of things go into it. SO in a city where you have four or five derby games as a season, it can become very difficult to win them all.
What is the secret to building team spirit?
It is something which all clubs need to have, however you get it. It is a good question, it is a question you get asked on the coaching courses nowadays ‘how do you build team spirit?’
In the end, I put it down to winning, and that might sound a very simple and not a good enough answer but I think winning builds a spirit and makes things a lot easier.
When you are not winning you have to find other ways of building team spirit and certainly in this period in time when you can go out, you can’t do anything together, you can’t take the players away for a few days it has been important that we have won because we have a really good team spirit going on at the moment.
We have a good group of players who all contribute to it and I hope that continues.
What has changed with your team since the reverse fixture at the start of the season?
I thought we were a bit unfortunate in the game when we played them at the Emirates earlier in the season.
Actually, I think we changed after it. I ended up with covid after it and my assistants did a brilliant job away at Leicester and Wolves but I think we felt it had been coming. We hadn’t started the season well but we had not seen that coming in pre-season.
We had not seen that in the way the players were and in their results so I hope that it was the work we had put in and we started to get the fruition from it but I have to say the players since then have been great.
We have taken it on and we have taken on a lot of big challenges in maybe a lot of games that we weren’t expected to win but the players have done so.
I have to give the players a great deal of credit because they have done a great job.
Interview transcript credit: Tom.Clark/Football.London
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