Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Burnley

I hate to be too optimistic, but it looks like West Ham are inching their way to safety: after dramatically beating Chelsea last week, and picking up a sound point against Newcastle we look a more confident team. For the first of our last 5 fixtures sees us welcome Burnley, who are having another decent season, to the London Stadium. Ahead of the game I spoke once again to Tony Scoles, editor of Uptheclarets to discuss everything Claret and Blue.
Hi Tony, how are you enjoying the return to action after the mid season break?
It’s been hectic. We go all these weeks without football and then suddenly it is two per week and televised games day after day. Being of a certain age, and having underlying conditions, it has been a solitary existence for a good number of weeks so to at least have some football back has been enjoyable. I have to say though that I’m finding it very frustrating having to watch us on television rather than being able to attend the games.

I would say that Burnley are having another good season, how do you rate it compared to beginning of season expectations?
My hopes, every season, are that we can be comfortable and ensure we stay in the Premier League without too many relegation worries. Probably the lowest point in the season was back in January when we were on 24 points and had just lost the previous four games. We do seem to have this ability to get out of problems and since then we’ve been on a terrific run that has seen us reach 46 points. That’s a terrific return for a club like ours and so it can only be looked at as being another excellent season for us.

Liverpool of course have ended up as Champions, and assuming Man City are runners up, who do you think will fill the next 5 places?
I think we can just about safely assume Manchester City will be runners up. Leicester are dropping and I think both Chelsea and Manchester United will finish above them and Wolves look set to take the next place. I see why you were asking me to go down to seventh place. The way we are playing I’d have possibly said we might make it but it is going to be difficult with the squad stretched to a large extent just now. If not us, I’d like it to be Sheffield United.

Not many people will complain if Jürgen Klopp gets manager of the year, but should there be a subsidiary award for the likes of Sean Dyce, Chris Wilder, or Nuno Santo for exceeding expectations?
Chris Wilder won it last year, a big surprise. When we won the Championship in 2016, Sean Dyche didn’t even get the divisional award, it went to Chris Hughton who hadn’t even won promotion. Sean has done so, so well for us again as has Wilder and I do like Nuno at Wolves. I’m not sure you can take it away from Klopp this year though.

It looks like Norwich are down, but who are going to drop with them? I should mention your November pick of Southampton have been revitalised from their early season form.
Did I really say Southampton? That looks good now doesn’t it? It was probably a week or so after their 9-0 hammering against Leicester and everyone was predicting they would go. Norwich are all but gone I would think and I’d probably think Bournemouth and Aston Villa are the most likely to go with them. Both have looked poor in the games I’ve seen since the restart.

What have been the highlights and lowlights of the season for you?
Probably the lowest was on New Year’s Day when we were outplayed in the first half at home by a very poor Aston Villa team. Despite being 2-0 down, we should have gone on and won it in the second half but could only score one goal from a host of chances. The highlight is one I don’t even have to think about too much. In 1965 my dad took me to our FA Cup tie against Manchester United. We were winning 1-0 with just a few minutes to go but lost 2-1. I’ve waited, and waited, and waited to see us win at Old Trafford. In 2017/18 and 2018/19 we were 2-0 up and ended with 2-2 draws with late goals, one a shocking decision too. This time we won 2-0 and it was an unforgettable night.

Yes, great to win at Old Trafford! Thoughts on VAR?
I don’t think it has improved the game in any way. It’s slowed it down with the long waits, look at the one at West Ham last week that took not far short of four minutes. Despite VAR we are still getting decisions so clearly wrong so I’d much rather we get on with it and putting up with the on field referee making the mistakes.

The games are coming thick and fast, and so it becomes a bit more difficult to predict line ups, but how do you think Burnley will line up against West Ham on Wednesday? Players/Formation?
Usually I would be able to very accurately give you some team news. Sean Dyche doesn’t make too many changes but right now we have so many players unavailable it is frightening. For one reason or another we are without Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Jack Cork, Ashley Barnes, Joe Hart, Jeff Hendrick and Aaron Lennon. We also have three players coming back from injury who are not quite ready to start games. All I can say is that the team against Sheffield United was: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Charlie Taylor, Dwight McNeil, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Erik Pieters, Jay Rodriguez, Mat?j Vydra. I don’t see many changes from that line up.

You’re unbeaten for the past three games after losing to Man City, are you going to keep the run going? Prediction for score.
I hope we are going to keep the run going. If we do win it won’t be like the last time we won at West Ham with supporters running on demonstrating against your beloved (????) owners with every goal. I’m hoping we can keep things going with possibly a 1-0 win.

Well many thanks again to Tony of Uptheclarets for his time and thoughts. Reading his long list of Burnley casualties, I’m going to back us to take advantage. 2 – 0 West Ham. COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Chelsea

Today West Ham welcome Chelsea to the London Stadium for our second London derby on the bounce, hopefully this one will have a better outcome than the last. Ahead of the game, I once again spoke to lifelong Chelsea fan Malcolm Walker, of the prison charity St Giles Trust to ask him his thoughts on the game.

Hi Malcolm, How are you enjoying the return of football? Presumably beating Man City in the League, and getting through to the FA Cup semis, you’re welcoming it?
It’s really odd as I hadn’t really missed it during lockdown as everything changed, I’ve just been doing different things and spending lots of time with the family which is nice. When the first game came on I wasn’t that interested as it seemed a bit false playing in an empty stadium with artificial crowd noise. But inevitably my interest returned quickly as the games came thick and fast and I’m now enjoying it just as much as before, except for the fake crowd!

Last time we spoke, you seemed to be pleased Frank Lampard was given the Chelsea job, how do you think he’s done so far?
Frank has done really well using a mixture of young players and some more experience. He isn’t frightened to put some new blood into the team which is good to see. That faith has been rewarded with some really excellent performances. Obviously that is tempered with times when the lack of experience shows through and the team doesn’t quite gel together, but on the whole a very positive start to his time at Chelsea. He will be helped next season as we have got some early transfers done, that will give the team a lift and a chance to move some of the old guard on.

Are you indifferent to facilitating Liverpool’s title win, or resigned to it?
I think Liverpool won the title long ago it was just a question of time. They have consistently played the best football this year. Our focus was to keep pushing for a top 4 place.

Are Chelsea going to stay in the Champions League spot? Predictions for top 5 places (in case Man City get banned)?
I believe we are on a bit of a hot streak at the moment with lots of confidence in the squad, players coming back from injury and keen to cement their place in the team. I think we will ease past Leicester into 3rd place. You can never discount Man Utd but I think Leicester will just about hold them off for 4th.

West Ham look to be in deep trouble. Do you think they’ll avoid the drop? Predictions for relegation spots?
Yes West Ham are struggling but both Norwich and Villa look poor, Bournemouth are also having a tough time but I think they will rally a bit as will West Ham so I think maybe Watford to go down with Villa and Norwich.

What do you think of David Moyes’ reappointment as West Ham’s manager? is he going to keep us up again this time?
I’m really surprised David Moyes is back, he really didn’t do that well last time but he wasn’t really given a long enough time to really make his mark. I was a fan of his when he was at Everton, he achieved a lot considering the budget he was working with. It all went wrong when he went to Man Utd, where he tried to fill the impossible job of following Fergie. He has really got his work cut out again keeping West Ham up but if anyone can do it then he can.

How will Chelsea line up against us? Players/Line up?
Christiansen and Pusilic are both doubts for the game, Giroud has been favoured up front recently and has done well but Tammy Abraham is waiting in the wings and maybe he will get his chance this time. Kepa seems to have picked his game up between the sticks recently after some transfer rumours so is a likely pick as is Mason Mount who continues to do well.

Presumably you think Chelsea are in with a chance of victory on Wednesday? Prediction for score please?
Always a tight one especially as we still don’t score lots of goals, I’m going with 2-1 to Chelsea.

Well many thanks to Malcolm once again. I’m going to predict a 1 -1 draw. Fingers Crossed! COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with Spurs

The games are coming thick and fast. After our home loss to Wolves, we barely have time to recover and reorganise before travelling across London, to play in front of an empty White Hart Lane, against Tottenham. Ahead of the game I spoke to lifelong Spurs fan Ode Ogwu to talk about the game and the season.

First of all, are you enjoying the return of football to our lives?
Of course, aren’t you?

Not so much after Saturday, no. Will the break have any effect on the outcomes of our football competitions?
Well, the enforced break has meant we’ve been able to get key players back from long term injury: Kane, Son, Sissoko, Bergwijn. So we should be stronger.

I presume you watched your game at the weekend. How did you enjoy the presentation/atmosphere?
It’s fine, with or without crowd effects. The important thing is that football is able to take place in a safe environment. The presentation in all other respects is pretty much the same.

How are you getting on with Jose as manager? Should Pochettina have been sacked?
He splits opinion. But I like his football astuteness. I think many fans would except that things were deteriorating under Poch and ultimately Levy made the call. Most Spurs fans were deeply saddened. Poch is loved, he took us to the top of the mountain and it was great. For a brief moment it felt like Spurs were the centre of the universe.

Is Mourinho a better long term option in the mind of Spurs fans, given your ‘push and run’ history, and Jose’s cautious (to say the least) attitude?
Again, this does split opinion. But winning games helps. The truth of the matter is, we are not as good as we were. We’ve lost balance in the team. The loss of Dembele, Erickson, Trippier has been a key factor together with the ageing Vertogen, Alderweld, Rose. We stood still for a moment and others overtook us. Jose now has to rebuild the side and that won’t be easy. I’m behind him, and so are most I think. He was brought in to win and this may be his biggest career challenge to date. He won’t have the money others have. Style is relative to winning / losing. When you’re winning it feels great and when you lose horrible. We’d all like the perfect outcome of winning in style. I love the fact that Spurs have always tried to play with flair.

Talking off managers, what if anything did you think of the decision to reappoint David Moyes as our manager?
That’s a difficult question. When a manager becomes your manager you take time to find out about him, listen to what he says, watch and analyse what they do, beyond the general chorus of opinion. I haven’t done this with Moyes. I would have preferred a young up and coming manager but that’s also a risk, one you have to weigh up. West Ham are in a dodgy position and perhaps a safety first approach was taken. Under Pelliegrini it looked like you were building a talented team but it just never took off.

You’ve had two great seasons consecutively, but this one looks to be not so good in comparison. Where do you expect Spurs to finish the season?
Spurs have been in the top four and therefore Champions League for the past 4 years and have qualified for Europe via Champions League and Europa League every year since 2010-11. Levy has been building the club, it’s infrastructure, finances and profile to compete with the big money clubs over the previous 15 years. This year will be a set back I think and realistically I wouldn’t look beyond the Europa League spots while of course hoping for a Champions League spot. It’s very tight and we would have to leapfrog Man.U. who are looking decent again (false dawn one hopes!)

While we’re at it, who (apart from Liverpool) are going to occupy the next 4 places, given that Man City’s place in Europe next year could be up for grabs?
It’s difficult to see any of the top 5 teams seriously crumbling and those outside the top 5 making up the gap. I would give Wolves an outside chance along with Spurs. Hey, this is football and anything can happen.

Predictions for relegation spots?
Difficult again. The best footballing side in the bottom half Spurshave played is Norwich and I will be sad to see them go, as seems likely. Aston Villa don’t look like they’ve got enough. The third spot is anyone’s guess from Brighton in 15th place / 32 points down, which includes Watford, West Ham and Bournemouth. Above Brighton are Southampton on 37 points and another win should see them through.

Harry Kane or Gary Lineker and why?
Harry Kane – He’s one of our own.

Harry Kane or Glen Hoddle?
Well they are both our own but Hoddle takes seniority over Kane simply because he comes before Kane – Kane just needs to continue being great for Spurs. It’s all about what he does next.

Any particular memories of Tottenham/West Ham games of the past?
I used to go to Upton Park quite a lot as a lad of 10-13 years of age with a mate whose dad used to take us – they were West Ham fans of course. Billy Bonds, Harry Rednapp on the wing, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters before he came to Spurs and of course Bobby Moore. But my clearest and favourite memories are more recent. The 2-3 at your ground this season was great in so far as it was Jose’s first game. But the two games that stand out were at Upton park: 2007, Score 3-4 to Spurs, Stalteri scores winner in 94th minute and 2013 3-4 to Spurs, Bale scores screamer to win the match in the 90th minute. But West Ham have had some notable victories over Spurs too – who can forget Lasagne gate, which cost Spurs a place in the Champions League on the final day of the 2005/06 season.

Yes Lasagnegate, was great I woke up that morning heard Spurs players were all sick, and incredibly we were 6 – 1 against to win. I was straight down the bookies. I used to sit behind the goal near the away fans, and the noise during that game was the loudest I’ve ever experienced. How will Spurs line up against us this week? Line up/ Formation?
We started off against Man U on Friday with a back 4, two holding players in Winks and Sissoko, 3 attacking midfielders in Lamela, Son and Bergwijn, behind Kane. I would expect Le Celso to feature probably in place of Lamela and Jose will need to decide whether to bring in Ali and sacrifice Son or Bergwijn. Or bring in Ali for Lamela and leave out Le Celso. Kane looked well off the pace against Utd so it’s not impossible he may play around with the attack but I would expect Kane to Play. He may tinker with the back four too. I think Tobby Alderweld may partner Dyer at the back. The full backs Davis and Aurier. If Jose loses his head a little he may dispense with one of the holding players and go for a more progressive midfielder alongside a holding midfielder. I’d like to see Ndombele feature at some point – what a talent.

You must be quaking in your boots at the thought of playing West Ham at the moment, are you going to be able to prevent us from taking all 3 points away from White Hart Lane? Prediction for score please.
2-0 Spurs!

Many thanks to Ode for his time. Let’s hope we can snatch a point. 1 – 1. _COYI _

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with The Wolves

Well now we all know what a mid-season break is like. In the words of Sam Meyer: ‘Include me out!’ Anyway, West Ham return to action with the first of a tricky few fixtures away to Wolves. I originally interviewed Tom Baugh, the editor of Wolves fan blog to discuss the fixture pre-lockdown, so I will run that, although I did contact Tom to see if he was looking forward to the season restarting.

Well footy is back. Are you looking forward to it? Indifferent? Or what?
Yes, looking forward to it. I’m a season ticket holder and get to a lot of games so all the ‘behind closed doors’ stuff is far from ideal, but I just love watching the game, be it in person, on TV or whatever. Plus, the going is good for Wolves at present; better than it’s been for decades, so got to make hay while the sun shines and all that.

I don’t know if you saw the Man City/Arsenal game on Wednesday, how will the lack of fans affect your enjoyment of the game?
I did see it and no problem for me. The piped-in crowd noise was better than the eerie silence and the game was still entertaining. Nothing compares to an actual crowd and the intensity of the game is definitely impacted, but it’s still football and come Sunday, I won’t want Wolves to win any less.

Where to start? Once again Wolves are having another fantastic season. You finished 7th last season, and currently stand in 6th position in the League: this is the consistency that West Ham fans are crying out for. Honestly are you surprised that you have managed to continue your incredible form from last year?
I am surprised by how well it’s gone. We had a small squad last season, didn’t add to it in a meaningful way over the summer and when you pile on the Europa commitments I thought it would prove our undoing. What we have though is stability from top to bottom in the football club, a coach who knows exactly what he wants from the team and players all pulling in the same direction. Those are the ingredients for consistency. We wobbled in the early weeks but have been fine since getting into a rhythm and belief has grown week-by-week.

Most newly promoted teams find that a European season season has a detrimental effect on their domestic form, yet if anything you seem to have been inspired by the experience, what’s your secret?
I think if you know your best eleven and can get it on the pitch in most games, you’re on the path to success, so credit has to go to the players and the conditioning team behind the scenes for allowing Nuno to use so few players. Our squad is also made up of individuals who can play equally well in several positions, which gives us flexibility when injuries do happen. It’s actually quite innovative and means all first-team squad members are close to the action so you don’t get people throwing their toys out of the pram.

Of course Nuno Espirito Santo must take most of the credit for your success: feel free to wax lyrical about him for a few seconds. What has he got that your previous managers could not get near to? He must be getting close to replacing Bill McGarry in the list of names most associated with being Wolves’ manager?
He does have this ethereal, otherwordly quality about him like he was sent from another planet to rescue us from the dross we’ve endured for the last 40-odd years. I suppose you have to caveat his success with the financial backing he’s received and the Jorge Mendes contact book, which many of our previous managers would point out has given him a considerable headstart. However, he gets the maximum out of the players and as we all know, money alone doesn’t guarantee anything. He often talks about his ‘idea’ for playing football and I look at all the other teams in the Premier League and can’t identify another that play like Wolves. He’s made us a unique proposition and very tough to beat.

Talking of managers, what do you reckon to David Moyes being reappointed to the position of West Ham manager? Is he the man to keep West Ham up this season?
It’s uninspiring – I don’t think anyone can deny that. He’ll organise you better than Pellegrini and coupled with the players you’ve got, I don’t think you’ll go down. But then what? If you sack him again and bring in a supposedly more ‘progressive’ coach it’s another gamble. If you stick with him, it might be viewed as settling. I can understand why West Ham fans are pulling their hair out. I think everyone would agree though, that the problems at the club are further north than the dugout.

Talking of which, who are your three picks for relegation this season?
Norwich, Villa and Brighton. The first two are erratic defensively and Brighton just have a horrible run-in. They took a point off us last weekend and deservedly so, but I don’t think they have enough firepower. Watford have been in a false position all season so would be surprised if they dropped and I reckon Bournemouth and West Ham have enough to knock off the wins to get them home.

Assuming that Liverpool win the League, and Man City come second which two teams are going to make up the Champions League entrants (or three if we accept that Man City will be banned)? Are Wolves going to be one of those teams, and if not, what position do you think Wolves will finally occupy?It’s annoying that Man Utd look like they’re coming good now as I would have fancied us to finish 5th at least, but I think we might just miss out now. My best guess on the top six would be:

1 Liverpool 2 City 3 Leicester 4 Man Utd 5 Chelsea & 6 Wolves

I might be showing disrespect to Sheffield Utd as they show no sign of slowing down, but I’m backing us on the basis we have more quality. Spurs are struggling and Arsenal may have left it too late.

Who have been the most impressive players for you this season, and who ultimately will get your vote for ‘Player of the Year’?
Someone who rarely gets a mention is Rui Patricio. He’s been outstanding this season. As you guys know all too painfully, a naff keeper is a considerable disadvantage so to have his metronome-like consistency really sets the tone. Jimenez is also integral but I think ‘Player of the Year’ has to go to Traore purely for his improvement. He’s always offered great entertainment value but now he’s put most of the pieces together. Nobody wants to play against him and you can understand why. To have a player like that in your team if you’re not Barcelona is very rare.

Are you at risk of losing your star players to the so called ‘BIg Boys’ during the close season.
Definitely – massive risk. Thankfully they’re all tied down to long contracts so we should get top dollar. I just hope if we do sell, we sell abroad rather than to the likes of Liverpool, Utd, etc as it’s a double slap if you’re strengthening their efforts. Hopefully we’re talking one or two departures in a worst-case scenario rather than a mass exodus but there’s bound to be interest in at least 4 or 5 I would have thought. Keeping Nuno is most important though.

From where I sit (i.e. not watching any football unless it involves West Ham) there can’t be many, but which Wolves players have not lived up to expectation this year?
Up until recently I would have said Diogo Jota. Enormous talent but just wasn’t getting it done. Now it’s a different story and he looks like scoring in every game. Other than him, we brought in a defender from Real Madrid and a striker from AC Milan in the summer and both never looked up to scratch, so were offloaded in January. I think that shows we’re not messing around and keeping people to make up the numbers. It seems like the right way to do business.

Where you are placed now – 6th in the Premiership, and in the last 16 of the Europa League, what would you consider a successful season, and what would constitute a failure, or is that already impossible?
It would be disappointing to see it fizzle out. Say we got done by Olympiakos and finished 10th/11th in the league, that would feel like a failure from this position given the talent at our disposal. But it could easily happen as the margins are often so thin. Success is finishing at least 7th to have a shot at European football again next season and fighting to the death in the Europa League, wherever that might take us. The dream remains Champions League football and we have two semi-realistic opportunities to get it.

As we enter that last two months of the season, what have been your highlights so far?
I really enjoyed beating Man City 2-0 at The Etihad. The atypical Wolves performance, soaking everything up and breaking at pace. Seeing Traore go through in the last minute to score the second was exhilarating. Beating them 3-2 at home to complete a famous double was nice too, but that was tainted by the fact I was having a slash when Doherty stuck in the winner.

Conversely what have been the worst moments of the 2019/20 season?
All the VAR setbacks. We’ve suffered more than most. We lost 1-0 at Anfield to a goal that was originally given as a handball and then awarded despite no clear evidence the ref had got it wrong in the first place. Then in the same game we were denied a goal that was given on the pitch but chalked off because the guy who put the cross over supposedly had one toenail ahead of the line. I don’t mind losing and I don’t mind technology, but when common sense makes for the exit, it’s very tough to take.

How will Wolves line up against us this weekend?
Assuming no injuries it will either be a 343 or a 352.
If it’s 343 it will probably be: Patricio, Doherty, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Vinagre, Neves, Moutinho, Traore, Jota, Jimenez
If it’s 352 it will probably be: Patricio, Doherty, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Vinagre, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Jota, Jimenez
Pedro Neto has been unlucky not to get on the pitch more lately and we haven’t really used £18 million signing Daniel Podence either so both those wingers might get a start at some point, again, depending on what happens in Greece.

Prediction for score?
I’ve actually got a bad feeling about this fixture, which has little foundation given our respective positions and the fact we’ve won the last three matches against West Ham, so I’ll sit on the fence and say 1-1. Good luck for the rest of the season guys (after Saturday).

Well many thanks again to Tom for his time and thoughts. I’m of course hoping to snatch a point from Wolves, but more in hope than expectation 1 – 1. COYI

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Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with The Arsenal

On the back of an unlucky loss at Anfield, and then last weekend our first win since New Year’s day, West Ham travel the short distance to just off the Holloway Road to face an Arsenal team who are slightly resurgent, having appointed a new manager at a similar time to us. Ahead of the game I once again spoke to lifelong Arsenal fan Andy Cross from prison charity St Giles Trust to ask him his thoughts on the recent events at The Emirates and the season.

Hi Andy, the last time we spoke Arsenal had just given Unai Emery the big heave-ho, and were yet to appoint a manager. The board have done what they might have done 18 months ago, and what you were open to, and appointed Mikel Arteta – how are you liking what you see so far?
Liking it a lot. It’s not so much the results but the fact they look like a team again, who actually know how to play football! I like his honesty and his belief in the right attitude and behaviour on and off the pitch. It suggests a level of player interaction Emery clearly never had.

What will you consider a success or a failure, or have you already written this season off?
Well we are still in the FA Cup so a trophy is still in our grasp. And Top 4 can’t be dismissed given our form in the league since Arteta took over and everyone else showing zero consistency. Failure actually would be another Europa league campaign. Not sure how much benefit there is although I’m sure West Ham fans would disagree at the moment!

Where will Arsenal be looking to strengthen next season?
Defence. Another CB, Right back cover for Tierney, a decent creative midfielder. Up top it looks rosy unless we have to sell Auba or Lacazette.

You’ve enjoyed an unbeaten run in the League of late, but that European lost last week must have been a hammer blow. Arsenal currently sit in tenth position, where do imagine you will sit at the end of the season? Will you top your Northern rivals in Tottenham? Will you mange to get into the European slots?
If we carry on with our league form there is no reason why we won’t finish in a European qualifying place but I won’t be upset if we dont. Finishing above Spurs would be a bonus but hey let’s face it they are not setting the world alight either!

While we’re in the prediction mode assuming Liverpool win the League, and Man City come second, who will end up in the next three places, as one of these will quite likely take Man City’s slot into the Champions League?
I think Leicester have done just enough to avoid being caught by the chasing pack and I think Chelsea have just enough to hang on and pip the Gunners ????

West Ham followed your lead and sacked Manuel Pelligrini, what do you think of his replacement David Moyes’s appointment as our manager?
I can see why fans are unhappy but he is solid. He knows what hes doing and he is not Alan Pardew! It’s the owners who need to be questioned especially how they spend money on average players.

Will David Moyes keep West Ham up? It’s very tight at the bottom who are your picks for the drop this season?
Although West Ham are doing their best to screw up their season I still think it will be Norwich, Watford, and Bournemouth. But it will be close between all the bottom teams.

How will you line up against us this weekend? Prediction for team/formation?

Bellerin Mustafi Luiz Saka
Xhaka Ceballos Ozil
Nelson Nketiah Auba: Tried and tested!

West Ham showed some nice touches against you last time out, before being ultimately steamrollered. Are you going to do the double against us this season? Prediction for score?
Hmm. I think it will be close but I am going to be optimistic: 2 – 1 to the Arsenal.

Once again, many thanks to Andy for his time and thoughts. I am going to revert to type, and pick us to get a sneaky away win: 0 – 1 to the Cockney boys. I shall be be keeping up with the game from my hospital bed, having just had a knee replacement operation (Thursday), so a win will definitely help to ease the pain COYI

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