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And so the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon to take on West Ham United in the 151st encounter between these two teams founded by Victorian men who worked iron on opposite sides of the Thames. 

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The glow of last Sunday’s glorious triumph over Liverpool still warms. Yet therein lies a danger. West Ham were our next opponents after we had soared high in the 1-1 draw at Anfield in December. We came down to earth with a thud, losing 2-0 in a game we should have won 3-1. 

And that was not the only time. In April, we followed a hard-fought draw at Anfield by dropping two points against the Hammers in another game we should have won comfortably, having been 2-0 up after ten minutes, even with our Starboy missing a penalty.

Previously, our form against West Ham had been solid: 24 wins and only two defeats in a run of 31 games going back to 2007, when we lost at home to a Bobby Zamora goal. All together, now:

🎵When the ball hits your head and you’re sat in Row Z, that’s Zamora.

Or, if you prefer the later version, ‘If the ball hits your car as you pass QPR, that’s Zamora.’

Overall, we have lost only 37 of the 150 games. That included the first league match, in August 1923, against a West Ham team newly promoted from the old Division Two. The Daily Herald’s correspondent was distinctly unimpressed.

It can hardly be recorded that the football displayed in the West Ham United—Arsenal match at Upton Park last evening was the standard looked for when First Division teams meet. The amount of scientific play seen was small, and too often, players failed to place the ball with judgment or keep it down.

West Ham won 1-0. Fletcher, ‘a local, not really worth his place’ (there just was no pleasing the Herald’s man), scored the only goal, a tap-in after our keeper, the five feet eight and a half inches tall Jock Robson, let the ball roll under his body. The Daily Herald was far more interested in the county cricket at Lord’s that day, with Surrey losing eight for 44 after a thunderstorm that struck when their score was 187-2 to give Middlesex an unlikely two-run first-innings lead.

The historical footnote to the (football) game is that Samson Haden made his debut. Perhaps not a name familiar to many ‘holics, the Barnsley-born former coal miner was one of the first teamers to survive the transition from the Knighton to Chapman eras. A broken leg ended the left winger’s time at Highbury after four seasons and 88 appearances. He provided the cross for Charlie Buchan’s first goal, costing Chapman £100, as Buchan’s £2,000 transfer from Sunderland contained an add-on of £100 for every goal he scored in his first season. He got 17.

The opposition

Regular readers of the GHF Predictathon updates will know that our opponents are annoyingly exceeding the low expectations held for them at the start of the season.

After their 14th-place finish last term, the flight of their captain to a proper club and the uncertainty over the continuing employment of their manager (once, incredibly, seriously spoken of as a successor to Arsene Wenger), the consensus among Predictathon players was for 15th this season, with three predicting relegation.

Thus, it is somewhat of a surprise to see them sitting in seventh, partly on the back of the 11 goals of their leading goal scorer, Jarrod Bowen, and partly on the contributions of two of the players acquired with the money we gave them for Declan Rice, the Ghanian international attacking midfielder Mohammed Kudus (six goals) and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse (five goals and six assists), who has become their No 10.

To those, add five assists by Lucas Paqueta, formerly of Olympique Lyon and now a rumoured target of Manchester Cheaty, and the newly borrowed Kalvin Philips, who travelled in the opposite direction in this winter’s window.

The attack has managed a middling 36 goals in their 23 league games to date, but West Ham ranks 14th in the league for shots taken and 15th for shots on target. The defence has conceded the same number, not a formula for winning games consistently. With three points from their past four league games, scoring three and conceding six, they have stalled, although theirs has been a season of fits and starts.

Yet they are difficult to beat at the London Stadium. They have lost only two of their 16 home games in all competitions this season.

Moyes will set up with his preferred 4-2-3-1, ready his team to sit deep, be physical and look to score on the counter and from Ward-Prowse set pieces. This season, the Irons rank second in the league in goals scored from counterattacks (seven). ‘We’ve scored goals against [Arsenal], and that would be the key again to give ourselves a chance,’ Moyes said in his pre-match press conference, demonstrating the tactical acuity for which he is famous.

Cutting Bowen’s supply lines will be part of his opposite number’s tactical plan. If Bowen doesn’t score, West Ham tends not to win. He has scored just once in his team’s run of six games without a win, although playing him at centre forward out of necessity because of Michail Antonio’s knee injury does him few favours. Nor does the loss of the still-injured Paqueta’s creativity. Both men miss Sunday’s game.

In last weekend’s game at the Old Toilet, Bowen had a couple of chances but fluffed them. West Ham had other chances to score but did not take them either (no goals from 22 shots). The Red Mancs were clinical (three goals from 12 shots), but the scoreline flattered them.

Of the two ex-Gunners now sporting claret and blue, we are more likely to see Mapravanos than Fabianski.

The Arsenal

This is the first of six games before we visit City at the end of March, from which we could get 18 points and probably will need to if we are to win the title. However, each of the matches is a potential banana skin in their different ways.

Reading the runes of Arteta’s pre-match press conference, Zinchenko is unavailable. Jesus is 50-50 and Saka is fit after his latest round of kicking. Partey has had another setback. Tomiyasu has returned from the Asia Cup and faces a late fitness test. I am guessing he will start on the bench. I think Jorghino will stand down to let Havertz revert to his left-sided eight role, and Eddie will lead the line if Jesus doesn’t make it. 



White Saliba Gabriel Kiwior

Rice Ødegaard Havertz

Saka Nketiah Martinelli

The atmosphere at the London Stadium will be much quieter than the Ems a week ago, but the team must not let that dull their enthusiasm. We need to avoid repeating December’s slow and aimless 90-minute meander around the outside of Moyes’s well-organised defence. An early goal will make all the difference. 

So, no slip-ups, please. Anything less than three points will be a disappointment, not season-defining, but slicing our already slender margin of error even finer.

If we win, it will be our fourth-straight league win at the start of a calendar year for the first time since 1935 — a season in which, I scarcely need to remind you, we ended as champions. 

Enjoy the game, ‘holics, near and far.

61 Drinks to “Keep alive the spirit of ’35”

  1. 1
    ClockEndRider says:

    A humdinger of a preview, Ned. As one of those in the Predictathon relegation places and one who was present for the League Cup defeat at the soulless London stadium, complete with telescope in order to be able to see the pitch, I desperately hope we win tomorrow. 21 CG and I will be at the game. We may even be going into the heart of the beast for a pre-match drink with some West Ham pals. Fingers crossed.

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    As ever, a highly informative and extremely enjoyable preview, Ned. I think you’ve selected the team that MA8 will choose and you are certainly correct that this is the first of a series of banana skins. Breaking a record that has stood for 89 years does sound a bit of a long shot too!Another challenge for this young team. Just do it, Arsenal.

  3. 3
    BtM says:

    Excellent preview, Ned, which hasn’t left me feeling either comfortable or confident. I think there’s a fair chance that Jorginho might get to reprise the role in which he excelled last week and that Kai Havertz might get another chance to hit the target up front. Today’s results, rather as expected, didn’t do us any favours.

    Just win.

  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Still trying to figure the meaning of keeping it down in Victorian terms, but will comment more generally Ned when I get to the bottom.

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    I’m getting there Ned, but stopped for a serious chuckle at “‘We’ve scored goals against [Arsenal], and that would be the key again to give ourselves a chance,’ Moyes said in his pre-match press conference, demonstrating the tactical acuity for which he is famous.” 🤣🤣🤣

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    Excellent preview Ned in points both historical and imminent, which is not to suggest that you previewed history. Unless you did. What BtM said: Just win it. And what you said: An early goal or two would go down so smoothly.

  7. 7
    TTG says:

    Great preview Ned combining interesting history ( none of which I knew) with up to date analysis . Every PL game is tough and a potential banana skin and we need to maintain the cutting edge we had last week if we are to prevail .
    I share Btm’s view on the likely team. I think he will leave Jesus on the bench but Tomi might be at LB. A few Japanese and Korean players were back this weekend . I always fear players who regularly score against us. Bowen does and Kudus scored in the Carabao and is someone I’d have liked us to buy .
    I wish CER and 21CG a safe and happy trip into enemy territory . I’ve been to see us at the London Stadium but the trip lacked the ‘ thrill and uncertainty ‘ of a trip to Upton Park back in the day which was a very scary day out .
    I think we might shade a tight one 2-1 with Declan getting the winner

  8. 8
    Trev says:

    Thanks, Ned, for your usually enjoyable and informative preview.

    I also agree with BtM and TTG about team choices – and I’ve been on the receiving end of one of TTG’s very scary trips to Upton Park. I don’t like West Ham. I was also at Wembley when we lost to them by a headed goal from Trevor Brooking – just about the only one he scored in his entire career, Bowen is a danger as he is one of those players who always seems to do well against us, so Tomiyasu, if ready, wouldn’t be the worst idea at left back.
    If anyone needs any more reasons to dislike West Ham I can offer you one Alan Pardew. Nuff said ?

  9. 9
    ClockEndRider says:

    Trev, I, too, was there in 1980 to see Brooking score from the only header he ever did in his entire career. But I’m not bitter, even 40-odd years later! The old days of turning right out of Upton Park tube and running the gauntlet past that precinct and the pub (Queen of Hearts?) on the corner are difficult to erase from the memory. I always found it far more scary than the trips to the Bus Stop or even up to the Walthamstow Marshes.
    I think Tomi will be in the bench rather than starting and left back spot will go to Kiwior. I can see us starting the same team as last week. Like Liverpool and The Manchester Lottery Winners, it is beginning to look like we are getting back close to a full squad for the run in. I fancy us today.

  10. 10
    Noosa Gooner says:

    Thanks Ned – spot on.
    What’s to like about West Ham? Nothing really. Spam however, not as bad as some make out. A regular meal as a kid accompanied by chips and an egg. Yumm.
    Anyway, we owe them this season so a 3-0 spanking will do nicely.

  11. 11
    Las says:

    Cheers, Ned. Excellent and informative preview. I learned a lot. I think Arteta will start with Havertz. We need his pressing ability to stop the Spammers playing fast contras when we lose the ball. And with Jorghino on Declan has the freedom going forward but we will see.

  12. 12
    Trev says:

    PS Ned, you are definitely Mr Consistency when it comes to writing previews.
    Having typed in “thanks, Ned” my spillchucker’s next two suggestions were “enjoyable” and “informative”, so many times have I clearly thus responded in the past !

  13. 13
    Countryman100 says:

    Cheers Ned. Brilliant as ever. Sunning myself by the pool here in Egypt. Just the 24 degrees. I shan’t even get to watch the game here because my Sky Sports doesn’t work even with a VPN and the only football they show is Egyptian. Mo Salah has the status here of a Pharoah. So I’ll be depending on the reports here. Go get those three points guys!

  14. 14
    Esso says:

    Cheers Ned!
    Yet to go to London Stadium. Used to hate going to Upton Park but it had to be done.

  15. 15
    Trev says:

    Well Salah is a big star, C100, so that’s Pharoah Nuff 😏

  16. 16
    Ollie says:

    Cheers Ned. Great preview. I didn’t need convincing, Trev. Although you mentioning Pardew, I had forgotten, so I’m even more up for this.

  17. 17
    Esso says:

  18. 18
    Ollie says:

    No Tomi even on the bench then.

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Thanks all for the kind words. I concur with all those who remember what a nasty, little ground Upton Park was. Not a pleasant visit.

    ESR also has to be added to the list of absentees. No sign of him on the bench. It leaves room for some youngsters, though.

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    Bench is Ramsdale, Nketiah, Cedric, Jorginho, Nelson, Elneny, E. Nwaneri, Walters, Mauro Bandeira

    Off games: Zinchenko, Jesus, Tomiyasu, ESR plus Partey, Vieira and Timber.

  21. 21
    TTG says:

    Well spotted Ned. Why is ESR missing? Surely not ANOTHER injury – our bench is very inexperienced and Bandeira had a loan at Colchester terminated because he wasn’t being picked at that level.
    So missing we have Timber, Partey , Tomayisu , ESR , Zinchenko , Jesus and Vieira . Five of that group are definite sick notes in that they are regularly injured . A bit of a worry with the Champions League looming . Five of those injuries have occurred during a period in which we have had four games in six weeks

  22. 22
    TTG says:

    My post crossed with yours !

  23. 23
    North Bank Ned says:

    Reports say ESR rolled his ankle in training. Fragile lad.

  24. 24
    Trev says:

    Hoping Areola makes a tit of himself 🤞🏻

  25. 25
    OsakaMatt says:

    Get in 1-0, another one from a corner

  26. 26
    OsakaMatt says:

    Heading practice for Bukayo this week

  27. 27
    Las says:

    Tequila time! 🙂

  28. 28
    OsakaMatt says:

    But not penalty taking practice 2-0 yes yes yes

  29. 29
    OsakaMatt says:

    I wonder if Saka thought about last years penalty, nerves of steel of course so no problem for our young hero

  30. 30
    OsakaMatt says:

    And no repeats of last years 2-2
    3-0 and another set play

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    Humiliating the hammers, 4-0 and the best of the lot from, he’s been excellent this half

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    From Leo I should say

    Amusing shot on tv of the west ham supporters heading home outside the stadium

  33. 33
    Countryman100 says:

    I should miss a game more often!

  34. 34
    Sancho Panza says:

    Zouma was laughably bad for that 4th goal.

  35. 35
    bt8 says:

    Can we do better this half?

  36. 36
    TTG says:

    TTG revealing himself as never satisfied – Craig Pawson was the ref who sent Luiz off at Wolves for being tripped into by the Wolves man . 10 men and a pen.
    Areole has denied a clear goalscoring opportunity and gets a yellow . WTF?
    To no-one’s great surprise Roy Keane is giving Arsenal no credit at all , it’s all Wet Spam incompetence

  37. 37
    bt8 says:

    Between Trossard and our set pieces it looks like their low block isn’t working the same charm today

  38. 38
    bt8 says:

    Excellent point TTG about Pawson not issuing Areola a red for denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity. Commentators never mentioned it either.

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    I think the yellow is the new double penalty rule so the keeper doesn’t get sent off

  40. 40
    TTG says:

    Hopefully a good chance to use Nwaneri and maybe Reuell Walters

  41. 41
    TTG says:

    I think we’re on for a point at least

  42. 42
    OsakaMatt says:

    @34 😂😂😂 SP Moyes agreed with you and hooked Zouma at half time

  43. 43
    TTG says:

    No we will win this ! Classy reaction from Declan. Not all Spammers deserve it

  44. 44
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yes, I feel quite relaxed at 6-0 up myself

  45. 45
    TTG says:

    Taxi for Moyes !

  46. 46
    OsakaMatt says:

    Bit late now but thanks for an excellent preview Ned, you were right that we were more likely to see Mavro than Fabianski though I imagine Areola must be wishing Fabianski had played

  47. 47
    Countryman100 says:

    Is that right? Twitter tells me Cedric’s on? Now he’s taking the piss!

  48. 48
    OsakaMatt says:

    Nwaneri is thé youngster given a chance

    Cedric, Moneny, Nelson and Eddie also on

    Celebrating some defending in the 82nd minute, love it

  49. 49
    TTG says:

    Did you think Rice was limping after the match ? I thought it was a rolled ankle , no worse than that. But what do I know ?
    You missed a great game C100! You just stay by the pool mate😃

  50. 50
    OsakaMatt says:

    Well, that was an enjoyable day out for CER and 21CG

    As many mentioned earlier in the drinks Wham and their wank support are not the nicest bunch so it felt good to given them a sound thrashing. On we go

  51. 51
    North Bank Ned says:

    That was how to avoid a banana skin. One more goal, and we would be second if that is not being too churlish after scoring six.

    For the xth game in a row, Arteta’s tactics have shut the opposition’s main threat out of the game. Bowen did not get a look-in today. West Ham were indeed woeful, but we made them so.

    Nwaneri looked assured enough in his cameo to encourage Arteta to give him more minutes. He is a big lad for a 16-year-old.

  52. 52
    North Bank Ned says:

    I expect Rice will have a glacier’s worth of ice on his hip. He really is the fulcrum of that team and would be a huge miss if he wasn’t fit enough to play. The word is that Jorghino is carrying an injury, too, which is why Elneny came on.

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    Re: Noosa @10

    It looks like Arsenal doubled your pleasure re:
    “a 3-0 spanking will do nicely” 😆👍🏼

  54. 54
    Countryman100 says:

    This was our first win by six goals in the league since beating Aston Villa 7-1 in December 1935.

    What are your recollections of that game TTG?

  55. 55
    North Bank Ned says:

    C100@54: Just to jog TTG’s memory, that was the famous game when Ted Drake scored all seven.

  56. 56
    TTG says:

    Q. Is Reuell Walters a reuell person ?( See what I did there?) Or just a name on the team sheet ?
    Surely he could have come on before Cedric ?
    Don’t mean to be churlish because that was a masterful performance and otherwise Arteta handled things brilliantly. I loved the high fiving of Raya when he preserved the clean sheet . That’s desire .
    My MOTM would have been Odegaard because he set the tempo for the team but Rice was superb too, as he so often is . Did they really beat us at home?

  57. 57
    TTG says:

    Get back to your sun lounger C100.I sphinx you are a cheeky bugger . I also have a daughter texting me from the pool in Marrakech .Meanwhile it’s bleeding cold in Kent .
    But to amplify Ned’s comment my Dad told me about that game and in 1991 just after we won the league I met Ted Drake at a dinner to celebrate 25 years since we won the World Cup . He was a true gentleman, much smaller than I expected but we did discuss that game . He was typically modest saying what great players he had around him . And I got his autograph for my Dad ( also called Ted)

  58. 58
    ClockEndRider says:

    21CG and I have just got back in after a splendid afternoon. I know it’s cruel laughing at those less fortunate than oneself, but even so. ..And any team whose fans sing about how they’re European Champions on the back of winning the football equivalent of Its a Knockout does merit a certain amount of schadenfreude. Talking of which, chant of the day -From the Arsenal fans:
    “ Who put the ball in West Ham’s net?
    Half the f*cking team did!”.

  59. 59
    North Bank Ned says:

    CER@58: 🙂

    It can’t be said too often (even if I am the only one saying it), the change of form is all down to Saka’s hair. When he dyed the top rusty orange, we lost three games in a row. Once he’d reverted to his old hairstyle, nothing but wins, and he started scoring again. The same thing happened with Benny Blanco when he dyed his hair blonde earlier in the season. He had a couple of poor games, but once he went back to his natural colour, his form returned. Trossard has also ditched the peroxide and is back on song. ‘Nuff said.

  60. 60
    Countryman100 says:

    I’ve now seen the MOTD highlights and analysis. On the basis of that thought Trossard was very sharp.

  61. 61
    Bathgooner says: