David Moyes: Declan Rice, Sheffield United and Michail Antonio
West Ham United manager David Moyes is looking forward to seeing his side return to Premier League action following the international break, as the Hammers prepare to travel to Sheffield United on Sunday.
The Hammers go into the game with three wins – and only one defeat – from their last six top-flight matches, and will be looking to maintain the momentum they have gathered in the early stages of the season.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Moyes discussed the importance of the fixture, one standout performer during the international break, and a wide range of other topics…
Declan Rice is taking more and more responsibility
The big thing with Declan is his improvement with the team here has been great. He’s learning an awful lot from the people he’s playing around. His performance for England the other night was exceptional. There was a lot of talk about the other young English talent, but I thought on the night, Declan Rice was as good as anybody on the pitch; his performance was so good. He’s maturing. He’s picking up from good people, like Mark Noble and obviously Harry Kane within England’s set-up. I think from Declan’s point of view it’s about continuing to learn: seeing what good practice looks like, and seeing what the good leaders look like. To be captain of West Ham at such a young age, at the moment, is helping him as well. We’re trying to get him to take on more responsibility, more leadership, and he’s certainly doing that. I couldn’t tell you what other football fans think, but the managers of West Ham United and England think he’s terrific. You’ve got to remember Declan’s a young player as well – it just happens he’s now got 13 caps for England. He’s doing very well, and long may that continue.
Sunday’s match with Sheffield United can help us move forwards
Sunday is really important. We want to keep moving forwards. We want to keep positive and try to add to the points we’ve got already, so we want to keep our form up and keep playing the way we have been. We’ve been putting up good results and creating a lot of chances, so we want to keep that going. Sheffield United have had a very similar run of games as we have had at the start of the season. They’ve also had a couple of injuries to key players. I’m guessing all that has been a factor in their form. They’ve got a really good manager and a good group of players who have been around together for a long time, and that will make them strong because they’ll be able to use that as the season goes on.
A training ball could be the way forward
We’re saddened to hear about the generation that heading’s shown it could be affecting. My generation’s been through a lot of heading the ball, head knocks, over the years. I don’t think football’s quite that way at the moment, but I’m concerned because I want to make sure that, going forward, things are going to be okay. I’ve said this a couple of times before: I’m amazed that we haven’t come up with a heading or training ball. We don’t want a balloon – we need to have a ball which has the same flight – but it would be something which we could still practise heading with, and we could still do some crossing and finishing with. We’d be hoping one of the companies could come up with a ball which we could use. I don’t know if anybody’s looked at the average number of times a player heads the ball in a game, but I can imagine that some players don’t head it at all and some players only head the ball twice or three times a game. There might be some centre-halves or centre-forwards who head it seven or eight times. I’m not too sure that it’s the game time heading the ball that’s the problem. I think it’s probably more to do with training, and that’s why I’m advocating that we get a training ball which could be used for heading practice. I don’t think we necessarily want to take heading out of the game if we can help it.
I wouldn’t be against returning to five substitutions
It’s a conversation which we’ve heard a lot about recently. My opinion at West Ham, originally, was that we should just have three substitutes [per match] because I felt five would help the bigger sides, with the bigger squads and the bigger budgets, because of the quality of players they had on the bench, but what I didn’t foresee was the amount of injuries which are coming into it. The truth is we’ve not had a great deal of injuries, and many clubs like us have not had a great deal of injuries. The clubs who have been suffering greater have been the teams who’ve had Europa League football and Champions League football. Obviously a lot of those clubs have had players in internationals too. I think for the fairness of the game, for this season only, I wouldn’t be against changing and allowing five substitutions, if that were the way it were to go. At the start, it wasn’t my first thought, but now I’ve seen the way football’s going and the way a lot of injuries have cropped up.
[Michail Antonio against Manchester City]
Michail Antonio gives us a different outlet
In the last few months, and even before that after lockdown… Michail’s form’s been so good. He gives us a different outlet. He can run in behind and he can hold the ball up. He’s a physical presence. He’s really important. His all-round play as a centre-forward’s improved greatly, so if we can get him back, it’ll be great. He’s a really important player to the team and how we play. If we can get him back, good, but I don’t want to say if we can because at the moment we’re not quite sure if he’s ready yet.
A vaccine boosts our hopes of supporters returning
I think it’s something we’re really hopeful of. I heard the news and thought ‘great, it sounds as if we’re going in the right direction.’ The best Christmas present we could get is [news that] West Ham supporters could get back into the ground. I think that would be the best news we could get. That’s what we’re hoping for and I think all football supporters will be thinking the same as well. If we can get them back to football, it would be the start of some form of normality towards the way lots of people live their lives.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Team news: Moyes offers Ogbonna, Antonio updates
West Ham United manager David Moyes offered an update on the fitness of Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio in his Friday morning press conference looking ahead to Sunday’s trip to Sheffield United. The Hammers return to Premier League action this weekend following an international break which saw several of their first team players involved for their country, and Antonio and Ogbonna working their way back from injuries. Ogbonna was forced off in West Ham’s last outing against Fulham with a knock, while Antonio missed the last two games with a hamstring problem. Moyes expects the Italy defender to be available for selection at Bramall Lane, but is still waiting to make a decision on forward Antonio. “Michail is back training and we’ve got a couple of days yet to see how he is,” Moyes explained. “The truth is I can’t give you a complete answer [as to whether he’ll be available on Sunday], but he’s getting much closer that’s for sure. “Angelo Ogbonna had a problem at the start of the week, but we think he’s fine now and they are the main two really.”
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: How the Hammers are striving to tackle extremism and hate crime
West Ham United is proud to drive inclusivity, diversity, and equality in everything it does, particularly in the community, and has a long-standing commitment and unwavering stance, as well as a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination of any form.
With the recent announcement of the national terrorist threat level raised to severe following attacks in France and Austria, the West Ham United Foundation’s Senior Education Officer, Cormac Hanrahan, is sharing details of how the Stop the Hate programme is tackling extremism across our community… West Ham United’s values of equality are embedded across everything we do.
Supported by Show Racism the Red Card and funded by the Shared Endeavour Fund, the Stop the Hate programme, led by the Foundation, aims to educate and empower young people around the issues of racism, discrimination, prejudice and hate crime, by providing interactive workshops to primary schools, secondary schools, and youth centres in east London this academic year.
We’re asking young people to lead the change they want to see in the world and so we encourage them to actively create and promote values that they can emulate and implement in their local communities.
A significant part of our Stop the Hate programme is centred around educating young people about extremism, and how it manifests itself in the world today; delivering age specific workshops about it.
Many young people might not have heard of extremism before or understand what it is, so we start by defining what extremism is and provide examples of extremist groups and ideas that exist in the world today. We analyse why these extremist ideas are unacceptable, and how they can be harmful to individuals or large groups because of racism and prejudice. To counter this, we talk about tolerance and how this is the opposite of extremist ideas. We utilise various activities like scrutinising case studies of extremist groups that have been active in London recently, and a New Neighbours exercise where participants select who they would like to live next to out of several options. This exercise helps young people understand that we might have to live next to people who are different to us, which helps us to convey how important it is to be tolerant of everybody in society and support social cohesion.
It is crucial that we help young people understand what makes someone vulnerable to being targeted for recruitment by extremist groups, and what recruitment strategies these groups will use to try and groom them. Young people are shown posters and quotes from extremist groups and they discuss what ideas they promote, and what harm they can cause in society. Additionally, we inform the young people how certain language can be offensive, and even incite violence and lead to hate crimes being committed. Pupils then design their own posters showing more positive values and illustrate why extremism and racism are bad for everyone in society.
Furthermore, with social media being one of the most powerful tools in the world, we have open and honest discussions about the dangers that exist, and how everyone needs to be vigilant and careful on these sites. We always tell the young people to ‘consider the five W’s’ (who, what, when, where, why) when seeing information on social media.
The most important part of the workshops is when the young people evaluate and think critically about the hateful ideas extremist groups promote, and create their own set of positive values they can enact and promote in their classrooms, schools, homes, and local communities.
Imperative to our programme is our partnership work. Police forces across the country have specially trained Prevent officers who work alongside other organisations through a Home Office programme called Prevent to help people vulnerable to radicalisation move away from violent extremism. We have an extremely close relationship with the Prevent Coordinators from our five targeted London Boroughs (Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets). This is critical to help to ensure that we are up to date with the key local extremist issues which need to be positively challenged and tackled in our communities. In addition, West Ham United Foundation staff have benefitted from access to numerous CPD opportunities organised by the Prevent Coordinators around the rise of hate crime and extremism in London and our country. These training opportunities educate our staff about the most recent data on these issues, and impress upon us the importance of tackling them, as well as reinforcing how to safeguard young people if they are exposed to extremist groups.
Crucially, the Prevent Coordinators discuss the new strategies extremist groups are using to spread their propaganda and recruit young people to join their cause. We are then able to incorporate this information into our workshops, helping young people understand what they need to be aware of.
We also work with representatives from the Met Police and local councils in order to have a larger impact and recently, as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week and linked with the work we do in the Stop the Hate programme, I participated in a couple of online public events with the partners; one with the Metropolitan Police led by the East Area’s Hate Crime Coordinator, PC Suzanne Stanbrook, and the other hosted by the London Borough of Redbridge and the Naz Legacy Foundation. For the latter, Yusuf Patel MBE, who focuses on countering extremism, hosted the session and I was on a panel including Stop the Hate co-deliverer and WHU Foundation Ambassador, former West Ham United player, and Vice-President of Show Racism the Red Card, Leroy Rosenior, and, the Leader of Redbridge, Councillor Jas Athwel. These were very powerful and well received virtual activities which emphasised the significance of this awareness week in enhancing the focus on all issues related to hate crime and driving awareness and understanding of the responsibility that everybody holds in achieving substantial and meaningful change.
The increase to the national threat level last week just highlighted the ongoing and increasing importance of local initiatives and partnership work which aims to tackle this issue head on, like our Stop the Hate scheme.
Over the last few years the world we live in has become progressively more polarised and divided, with misinformation, fake news, and hate crime on the rise. Extremist groups have more resources than ever before to recruit young people and spread their ideas.
We must equip our young people with the knowledge and the skills to safely challenge and report these ideas, and to be able to think independently and critically about information and ideas they are exposed to. Together we can make the change for a safer, closer and better community.
To find out more about of Stop the Hate programme and how your school, youth club or community group can access our provision, please contact our Senior Education Officer, Cormac Hanrahan: CHanrahan@westhamunited.co.uk
If you’re worried that someone you know is being radicalised, visit the Counter Terrorism Policing’s new website actearly.uk for more information. If something doesn’t feel right, call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, and their specially trained Prevent officers will listen carefully to your concerns. You won’t be wasting their time and you won’t ruin lives, but you might save them.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Under-21s to face Peterborough United in Papa John’s Trophy round two [West Ham United Under-21s]
West Ham United Under-21s have been drawn to face Peterborough United in round two of the Papa John’s Trophy. The young Hammers, who topped Group A in the Southern section of the prestigious cup competition, will travel to the Weston Homes Stadium in early December for the exciting tie. Managed by Darren Ferguson, Peterborough have made a flying start to the season and currently sit top of League One, making them the highest-ranked side in the competition. While a date is still to be confirmed, round two matches will be played in the week commencing Monday 7 December. West Ham’s development squad have been in impressive form in the Papa John’s Trophy thus far, opening their 2020/21 campaign with a 3-1 win at Southend United’s Roots Hall stadium in September. That match was settled by two stunning goals from Ademipo Odubeko and an injury-time lob from Conor Coventry, who went on to net a spectacular 30-yard strike in a subsequent 1-0 win at Colchester United’s JobServe Community Stadium. The U21s’ most impressive result of all, however, arrived at Fratton Park earlier this month, where West Ham became the first team to defeat Portsmouth in the Papa John’s Trophy in over two-and-a-half years, winning 1-0 thanks to Kai Corbett’s early goal. Buoyed by such results, the Hammers will travel to Peterborough with little to fear and all to play for, as they bid to reach the competition’s third round for the first time in the Academy’s history. The Irons’ only other appearance at this stage came in 2017/18, when they lost out to a talented Luton Town team at Kenilworth Road. The Papa John’s Trophy final will be played at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 14 March 2021.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: On This Day: Anton Ferdinand’s late leveller stuns Spurs
Taking a look back at a classic West Ham United moment on this day in history, in association with RoadX Tyres…
Anton Ferdinand headed a dramatic equaliser in the last minute of added time to earn West Ham United a dramatic 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on this day in 2005. The Hammers seemed set to lose out after future West Ham player Mido put Spurs in front on 16 minutes, sending a looping header over Shaka Hislop. Former Spurs man Teddy Sheringham forced a stunning close-range save from Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson in the second half as Spurs seemingly moved towards victory. But in the dying seconds, defender Ferdinand converted Paul Konchesky’s corner, sparking wild celebrations among the West Ham players on the pitch and supporters in the stands.
Sheffield United v West Ham United
[Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder looking unhappy]
Sheffield United’s current 12-match winless run in all competitions is the longest of Chris Wilder’s managerial career. TEAM NEWS
Sheffield United hope to have Lys Mousset, Rhian Brewster, John Fleck, Enda Stevens and John Egan all fit. Loanee Ethan Ampadu is back after being ineligible to face Chelsea, while the Blades are waiting to find out whether Sander Berge is available after a Covid-19 scare.
West Ham forward Michail Antonio could return from a two-match absence with a hamstring problem. Angelo Ogbonna has overcome a knock but Andriy Yarmolenko is self-isolating. LAWRO’S PREDICTION
It’s surprising to see Sheffield United struggling so badly. The worrying thing for them last time out was not that they lost to Chelsea, but that they had such a soft centre. That is unusual for Chris Wilder’s team so the alarm bells will be ringing. I am backing them to turn the corner this weekend, though. Prediction: 2-0
[West Ham have lost just one of their last six Premier League games (W3, D2).]Their only defeat was at reigning champions Liverpool. MATCH FACTS
§ Sheffield United have won all three of their Premier League home games against West Ham.
§ The Hammers can become the first club to lose four consecutive top-flight away fixtures against Sheffield United since Southampton had a run of six from 1967 to 1991. § West Ham haven’t won a top-flight match at Bramall Lane since April 1968. Sheffield United
§ Sheffield United are only the fifth team in Premier League history to have a solitary point after eight games of a season. Only in 1990-91 have the Blades ever failed to win any of their first nine league fixtures.
§ They could equal the club Premier League record on Sunday of 12 matches without a win, set from August to November 1993.
§ The Blades have gone 11 league matches without a clean sheet, conceding 20 goals.
§ United have the biggest negative difference between expected goals (7.7) and goals scored (4) in the Premier League this season.
§ London sides are winless in 11 Premier League visits to Bramall Lane since Chelsea won 2-0 in October 2006 (D1, L10). West Ham United
§ West Ham are unbeaten in their past 11 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom of the table.
§ The Hammers have kept just three clean sheets in their 14 home league matches since David Moyes took charge.
§ Moyes is winless in all four league away matches as a manager against Sheffield United (D2, L2).
§ Michael Antonio has scored eight goals in his past six Premier League away appearances.
Sheffield United v West Ham United
· By Preview Percy KUMB.com
Filed: Friday, 20th November 2020
The main advantage of international fixtures is that they give us all a break from Preview Percy. Sadly, all good things must come to an end so here is the grumpy one’s look at Sunday’s trip to Bramall Lane…
Right, where were we? Oh yes Sheffield United are next up on the list. Kick-off at Bramall Lane on Sunday is 2pm. The match is being screened on Sky without the need for you to shell out money or search for some kind of stream, all that having been scrapped – just after our Fulham match. For those of you who don’t have Sky, you could always look at Eyes Up Mother Brown – a sort of “Last Of The Sumer Wine” with football. This is available on something called You Tube apparently.
[Sheffield United v Everton FC – Premier League : News Photo]
So Sheffield United then. Having taken a few people by surprise in their first season back since throwing away a 10 point safety cushion in return for ?25m all those years ago, they are finding things a little more tricky this time around. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, it would require one to possess a heart of stone to see the current league table without laughing.
For the record they are in 20th spot with but a solitary point from the eight games played so far. That point, perhaps predictably, came against Fulham in a home 1-1 draw back in October. Other than that it’s been defeats all the way with home reversals to Wolves (0-2) Leeds and Man City (both 0-1) and away losses at Villa (1-0) Arsenal and Diverpool (both 2-1) and at Chelsea (4-1).
They will of course point to a number of extenuating circumstances. Last season’s top scorer Lys Mousset hasn’t appeared this season due to a troublesome ankle, whilst influential midfielder John Fleck and defender Jack O’Connell have also been missing – the latter possibly missing all season.
Last season’s keeper Dean Henderson copped a look at all the mistakes made by De Gea last season and elected to return to Old Trafford to take his chances there whilst midfielder John Lundstrom – a Scouser with England age-group caps despite the Scandinavian surname – has already decided that he would rather be elsewhere and has turned down a new deal to replace the one that expires at the end of the season. His good timing means that he won’t have to hear what is euphemistically referred to as a “mixed” reception when they read his name out before the match.
They at least moved into the transfer market to rectify the goalkeeping issue. Daisy, the socially distanced and bubbled personal assistant with the beautiful smile, informs me that they spent ?18.5m to bring back custodian Aaron Ramsdale from Bournemouth, with whom he was relegated last season.
The thought of Championship football outweighed the more pleasant environment and the fact that he picked up the Cherries’ player of the season award last term in his decision-making process. Presumably there was also some concern on the part of Bournemouth themselves at keeping a player presumably on a decent wage with the much reduced tv money. Even without bringing Covid into play the gates at Dean Court with its 11,500 or so capacity weren’t going to be bringing too much into the coffers so a decent-sized fee was going to suit all concerned.
They also spent ?23.5m on Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster. Brewster is actually a Chadwell Heath lad and we had a look while he was a kid. Chelsea’s pockets were deepest and he stayed there until he was 14 when his Dad decided he would have better opportunities up at Liverpool. There was a lot of gossip about the player’s future during his youth days with clubs across Europe sniffing around. It got to the stage where, in one of the more “pot and kettle” moments of football history, Liverpool cancelled a proposed friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach on the grounds that the Germans had been tapping the player up. Good to see the Scousers taking a moral stand against such offences isn’t it?
In terms of medals Brewster’s dad may have had a point I suppose. As an unused sub in their referee-assisted defeat of Spurs in the So-Called Champions League Final That Nobody Wanted (to give it its full title) Brewster is now the proud owner of a So-Called Champions League winner’s medal, despite never having made a competitive appearance for the Divers at that point.
[Sheffield United v Fulham – Premier League : News Photo]
Even the arrival of silverware did not translate into first team time – his only appearances coming in the cups. He was sent out on loan in January to Swansea where he picked up 11 goals. His missed spot kick in what will always be the Charity Shield helped Arsenal to what they are claiming is a major trophy but with Liverpool’s forward line continuing to make miraculous recoveries from all those nasty tackles that never actually happen opportunities were limited leading to his move across the Pennines.
Scottish striker Ollie Burke came in from West Brom along with ?3m with Callum Robinson going the other way. Twice the player has broken the record for the most paid for a Scot, firstly when moving from Forest to RB Leipzig for ?13m and secondly when returning to Blighty when West Brom paid ?15m for the player. The player claimed his return from Germany was due to his wanting more game time. If that was the case it was a plan that failed as the player was sent on loan firstly to Celtic and then last season to Alaves. Clearly not a player fancied by Slav then.
Amongst the other signings which mainly comprised of youngsters they did bring in the obligatory loan from Chelsea in the form of Welsh international Ethan Ampadu. Ampadu started his career with Exeter and is in the interesting position at the time of writing of having played more international matches (19) than he has in the various leagues his clubs have represented (16). You’d have thought that sending him out on loan all last season would have seen him gain more game time. He did actually play in the so-called Champions League for RB Leipzig who gave him a good write-up for his performance against Spurs (for what that’s worth) but a back injury saw him disappear off the radar following the restart and he ended up with just the 3 Bundesliga matches under his belt.
Top scorer is David McGoldrick who has netted three of the four they have (for want of a better word) amassed in the league this season. McGoldrick picked up the FAI international Player of the Year last season, having done the family tree research and located the statutory grandparent who had once had a pint of Guinness and liked it. No sooner had he cleared space on the mantlepiece for the trophy he tok time out to announce his retirement from the International game, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Usually when one hears that statement one raises a quizzical eyebrow, strokes one’s chin and invokes the old mantra of “chinny reckon”. However, having seen just how bad the Republic of Ireland team are at present I can quite understand why one would want to stay at home.
Incidentally, for the England match last week we had the old subtitles on here at the rest home – most here are a bit mutton. Our Irish contingent were most upset as the lyrics of the rather anodyne “Ireland’s Call” – which sounds like a tourist board advert at the best of times – were displayed rather than those of the Soldiers Song, which was the tune that was actually being played. Still can’t blame the tv guys – it’s hard enough typing out stuff in English. That particular anthem is usually sung in the Gaelic translation and the subtitles would have been a right mare.
Which brings us onto this week’s look at the Wild and Wacky World of Association Football. The first points of Euro 2020 were awarded this week as England, Croatia and the Czech republic were given three points each on the qualification of Scotland for group D. goal difference to be sorted out nearer the time.
Elsewhere in international football England crashed out of the UEFA Needless Gap Filler League Type Thing by losing to Belgium. Ashley “where’s my ‘phone” Cole was quick to blame Declan Rice for Eric Dier’s nightmare at the back – apparently the shocking ball from Dier wasn’t to blame for the first goal it was Declan’s failure to save Dier’s bacon that was the cause of all problems.
[England v Iceland – UEFA Nations League : News Photo]
Meanwhile the room temperature IQ that is Jamie Carragher took a full half-an-hour before finally admitting that Rice’s challenge had been a good one and that the Dutch ref may just have made a howler, having spent the previous 20 minutes blaming Rice for making, er, a perfectly good tackle. Meanwhile the fact that we are no longer in the competition is no bad thing. I mean the central defensive positions had become an issue with anyone who is any good being injured. As well as Gomez. In fact Craig Dawson must have been wondering how Dier got a game. I know I was. Still at least we aren’t Germany. In the end Rice picked up his first goal for his country – well played young man – and, better still he also picked up no injuries.
Elsewhere Gareth Bale was quoted as saying “It’s nice to be in a place where I am wanted” though the follow up line of “even if it happens to be Tottenham” seems to have eluded the reporters present when he said it. Mo Salah tested positive for Covid-19. In fact he tested negative but VAR gave it to him anyway despite there being no contact. (Numerous other variations of that one are available at your local social media site).
Let’s move on to us shall we. Fulham, if you can remember that far back, presented a different challenge to that which we had been used to, requiring us to bring the game to them rather than playing on the counter. The goal when it finally came had an element of controversy – I know we have been on the receiving end of crap refereeing more than we have benefitted from it but Haller should really have been picked up for offside in the build-up. It was one of a number of errors throughout the game for a rookie official whose copy of the laws of the game seems to have been delivered with the page on “advantage” missing.
I think the award of the penalty was probably fair enough – the hooking motion of the challenge being enough to bring the player down. I am actually glad that the kick was awarded as, had it not been given, we would never have seen the funniest penalty I ever seen. If we are allowed back to matches by the time we have to visit Craven Cottage I for one will be giving (Please Don’t) Lookman an ironic cheer when his name is read out. It was such a bad penalty that Fabianski actually had the time to stop his dive and go back to get the ball which was floating towards goal with all the speed of an American election count.
On the injury front the big question is that of Antonio obviously. All the noises from the club are of the “he is progressing well and may make the bench on Sunday” variety. It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see him start – something that would arguably be preferable. It’s obviously much easier to have a full warm-up in the hour or so before kick-off whilst, with the best will in the world , a sub is always going to be struggling to get the pace of the game coming on with just a spot of running up and down the touchline behind him. Of course, maybe subs would be warmer if they were to abandon this ludicrous thing of not being ready in full kit at all times – a particular bete-noire of mine these days.
Elsewhere Ogbonna’s groin appears not to have been quite as bad as it was first feared. Missing out on Italy’s matches during the break will have helped there. Having recovered from the toe injury that kept him out of the squad for a bit Mark Noble sustained a knock to the ribs in training which will leave him as a doubt for this one. The only other absentee is likely to be Yarmolenko who has been surrounded by Covid whilst on international duty and will therefore be picking up his groceries from his front door for a couple of weeks.
So prediction then. Well firstly one hopes that the cobwebs that were present at the last occasion we were back after an international break are not present this time around. If we take that as read we will be facing a side who, although in similar statistical form to Fulham, have a tendency to be a little more on the front foot than the Cottagers. Thus this is likely to be more of a set up that plays in our favour. For that reason I think we will win this one – particularly if Antonio starts. So the ?2.50 that I was going to chip in towards the costs of having all football pundits furloughed will instead be sent to the Winstone Turf Accountancy emporium (I’ll be over to settle up on 2 December – honest) and placed on a 2-1 away win.
Enjoy the game!
[West Ham United v Sheffield United – Premier League : News Photo]
When last we met at the Bramall Lane : Lost 1-0 (Premier League January 2020)
We fell foul of VAR as a handball of the sort that could have been given in our favour but wasn’t on dozens of occasions over the season my0steriously became a goal denying offence all of a sudden. Thus denying us an equalizer to McBurnie’s effort which owed much to the usually reliable Martin channeling his inner Roberto.
Going for his 50th appearance in a West Ham match in two seasons. Probably
Danger Man: David McGoldrick
I’m being lazy this week and going for the top goalscorer. So sue me.
Last time the Fulham Palace and Gardens website was the source of the headline from which we removed some key words (you wait – one of those panel game shows will nick that idea – you mark my words):
A tale of two XXXXXXX, a XXXXXXXX and a bunch of XXXXXX
Obviously an easy one but first out of the hat with the correct answer of “Edmunds, Tamarisk and Grapes” was Mrs Sarah Intelligence-Qutient of Chadwell St Mary. Well done Mrs IQ.
This week we refer to one of the more heinous crimes to have been committed in recent years:
Sheffield woman won’t shut down XXXXXX after beloved XXXXX stolen during break-in
Good luck everyone!
David Moyes exclusive: How West Ham used lockdown to get back on track and maintain their momentum this season
David Moyes tells Sky Sports how a lockdown reset, added quality, and a confidence shift improved West Ham, and why a formation change this season is benefitting them at both ends of the pitch. Watch Sheff Utd v West Ham live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on Sunday; kick-off 2pm. [Pete Smith]
Comment and Analysis @psmithXI
Friday 20 November 2020 15:14, UK
[David Moyes manager West Ham says his team have grown in confidence over recent months]
Image:West Ham manager David Moyes says his team have grown in confidence over recent months
Few teams have kicked on since the summer’s lockdown like West Ham. They returned to action in June transformed, ensuring their Premier League status with a string of impressive performances and results. There have been tactical tweaks since then, but the momentum continues.
Handed the toughest first eight games – on paper – of any team in the Premier League, David Moyes’ side have come through tests against Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, Leicester, Arsenal and Wolves, along with Newcastle and Fulham, with their confidence up and points tally encouraging.
Contrast that with Sunday’s opponents Sheffield United, who appeared to be knocked off course by the Premier League’s pause last season, and who have struggled to improve in this campaign. West Ham have taken points from five of their eight games this season; the Blades have just one point to show for their efforts.
So what has been the key to West Ham’s turnaround? What has been behind them picking up almost as many points in their past 17 games as they did in their first 29 of last season?
For West Ham boss Moyes, it was the result of using the lockdown break effectively to restore fitness, refresh the mental approach, and then capitalise on that replenished confidence this season.
“I think since lockdown we’ve improved greatly,” he told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview. “The period of lockdown, I could nearly have called that a long pre-season. When we got players back obviously it all started in ones and twos but it gave me the chance to be closer to the players and it gave me a chance to try to build the team spirit, which I thought needed help with as well. [https://e0.365dm.com/20/07/768×432/skysports-david-moyes-west-ham_5027757.jpg]
“So I have to say the players have done a great job. Because we were under so much pressure with the [threat of] relegation last year, when we came back the focus was completely on: how can we win the games, how can we get through the next game to get the points required?
“I think since then, we’ve grown. We’ve scored an awful lot of goals and I think we started well again this year. We had a poor defensive record last year, and we worked hard to try to find a way of eradicating it or certainly making it better, and at this present in time we’re doing a bit better in that department as well.”
Formation impact on defence and attack
Building on that strong finish to last season has seen Moyes turn to a 3-4-3 formation. Combined with a settled team – only Aston Villa have made fewer line-up changes this season – the system has given West Ham balance at both ends of the pitch.
Defensively, there have been three clean sheets, a tally only bettered by four sides, while on the front foot the set-up has enhanced one of the team’s strengths: crossing.
Only Everton (six) have scored more than West Ham’s five goals from crosses this season, with Aaron Cresswell’s deliveries from set-pieces accounting for nine chances created, the most by a player in those situations in the Premier League.
“I was worried about the amount of goals we’d conceded, I had to find a way of making sure we weren’t losing two, three goals every game because if we are, it makes it too hard to win. But in the same breath, we had to think, how could we score more,” Moyes said, as he explained the change in formation.
“From the scoring side of it, getting [Michail] Antonio as a centre forward – and his form has been so good, he’s developed into a really top-end centre forward at the moment with his finishing, with his hold-up play, with his ability to physically run in behind with his speed as well. So he’s got lots of capabilities which has greatly helped.
“But the introductions in January – I think if we’d not brought Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek in we’d not have been in the Premier League. Those signings made such a difference to us, gave us another dimension and it was something we were able to build on and we grew in confidence from it. [https://e0.365dm.com/20/10/768×432/skysports-david-moyes-west-ham_5147514.jpg]
“So I think the change to 3-4-3 fitted what we had, trying to concede less goals, trying to score more goals and getting players in the team – and I’ve got to say, since we’ve played it we’ve done very well.
“Arthur Masuaku has come into the team and done really, really well for us [at left wing-back], we brought in Vladimir Coufal in the summer who has added competition on the right-hand side for us as well, so we’ve suddenly got a bit of a better balance in some more choices.
“And people arriving in the box has probably been one of our biggest strengths. They’ve not all been headed goals; there have been different types of crosses. Obviously crossing plays a big part in football and if we can deliver good balls in – against Fulham we didn’t do that – but in other games we delivered some really good balls in and got some good goals from it.”
Moyes points out he has plans to revert to a back four when required but it’s clear he feels he now has an encouraging base to work from. He’s also adamant stability is crucial to success.
“More than anything else, consistency at any football club is important, whether it be your team selection or the consistency with the manager being there,” he says. “I think it helps football clubs. And certainly a club like West Ham, us having a period of stability I think is really important.”
The hope will be, though, that West Ham continue to build, and players such as new signing Said Benrahma add to the quality.
The £30m forward from Brentford – who had an eventful home debut against Fulham, providing an assist for the winner but then giving away a late penalty which was missed – is being eased into action by Moyes, who took a similar approach to Bowen when he stepped up from the Championship earlier this year.
But Moyes is convinced the Algerian will bring a cutting edge to West Ham’s attack, especially now he has had a chance to see the standard in the Premier League and get his fitness back to a high level after a hard season in west London. [Said Benrahma warms up for West Ham]
Image:Said Benrahma will bring quality in the final third to West Ham, says David Moyes
“What attracted me was his goals and his assists,” said Moyes of a player who hit the net 17 times and set up nine goals last season.
“We’ve had a good look and he’s getting there. He’s in a better condition. At the time [when he was signed in October] he was probably looking to get away and needed some work done. But I’ve been really pleased with him.
“Obviously he got an assist against Fulham before giving the penalty away but the truth is we brought him in to play at the top end of the pitch, not the bottom end of the pitch.”
Back in action at Bramall Lane
Like Bowen, Moyes believes Benrahma can be another hit from the second tier – “a lot of the boys who come up have got something to prove” – and he is likely to get another chance to show what he can do at Sheffield United this weekend.
At Bramall Lane, West Ham will aim to continue their good form when they face a Sheffield United team who have made the joint-worst start to a Premier League season.
Five of Sheffield United’s seven defeats in this campaign have been by just one goal, though, and Moyes isn’t taking anything for granted.
“They’ve had a similar start to the season as us, they had a lot of really hard games,” said Moyes. “They’ll see this as a home game and a chance to take points but we need to go there and show exactly what we are, which is an improving team.”
If West Ham do win at Bramall Lane it will be their best start to a Premier League season since 2015/16 when they ultimately finished seventh. Signs of progress, indeed.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: West Ham target Birmingham’s Carla Ward as new manager
By Emma Sanders
Current Birmingham City manager Carla Ward has won three out of seven WSL matches with her team
Birmingham City boss Carla Ward is West Ham’s priority target to take over as manager following Matt Beard’s departure. Ward joined Birmingham in the summer on a two-year deal after leading Sheffield United to their highest finish in the Championship last season. Beard left West Ham on Thursday having led them to the FA Cup final in 2019. His departure came on the same day Tottenham sacked head coaches Juan Carlos Amoros and Karen Hills. Former England assistant coach Rehanne Skinner is now in charge at Spurs. During her time at Birmingham, Ward has led the team to three wins in seven Women’s Super League matches and seen them overcome Brighton in the delayed FA Cup quarter-final. She was also named October’s manager of the month. When Ward arrived at the Blues in the summer, there were only eight senior players, and they have struggled to get a full squad out at times this season – naming just two substitutes in the 1-0 victory over derby rivals Aston Villa this month.
Birmingham’s last fixture was postponed because of a member of the playing staff testing positive for Covid-19. West Ham are ninth in the WSL having picked up just one win in seven games.
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