This post is dedicated to Don Coates, a lifelong Hammers fan and Essex cricket umpire who sadly lost his life last week - 1941-2016 - Rest In Peace Don
Having just got back from the ground, it's worth reflecting on a pulsating game, fitting for the run in for the Boleyn.
First up, on Diafra Sakho, who posted a mysterious and angry message via social media, we still don't know if this was aimed at someone in his personal or professional life but it's very odd that he was omitted from the squad, even if Slaven put this down to a 'minor injury'. What we do know, based on the experience of Morgan Amaltifano, is that no player will be allowed to disturb the karma of the team or club and no one is bigger. It remains to be seen if we see Diafra again this season.
Onto bigger and better things, and like so many of you, at 0-2 down, I had already started to plan my early exit and wondered if we would keep it down to 4 or 5. But this is such a different West Ham now, we do not lose any confidence, even when we go behind. If anything we are energised by falling it, like a hare turning on the speed against a tortoise who has had the audacity to threaten our unbeaten at home since August record. The lads, led by the superb Andy Carroll, revelled in the fight back and almost got us the three points. The fight and spirit were quite incredible, though sometimes I wonder about our fitness. Players such as Payet, Noble and Cresswell, who had all run their hearts out, looked gone by the end,m contrast with a team like Spurs who appear to go all guns blazing towards the end of matches.
Top performances go down to the three boys mentioned above, Big Andy of course and little Lanzini. It's very interesting with Manuel, as I and a few others think he will turn into more of an influence than Dimitri over time. Having said that, DImi is jsut sublime on the ball, just a joy to watch. A word though on the backs, I think Slav was very keen to have Antonio back in his best spot, and you could see why. Antonio troubled them throughout with his runs. Unfortunately, Arsenal were exploiting that weakness, with Tomkins not quite at the races and certainly not able to match the pace that Arsenal possess. It was a sensible switch at half time, but I really can't wait for the summer and us to buy a new, soldi right back whilst Byram cuts his teeth. Winston Reid seems to be getting some stick of late, some of it a little deserved as we certainly looked more solid with Ginge at the back. However, I think Winston is just looking a bit rusty following injury and will be back to his normal self soon.
Anyway, a great game that I actually feel privileged to have watched, that was what you call total football.
You may have read this and thought 'what about the referee?' - I don't have the energy to get angry about them again, but it is something we must keep an eye on and ask the FA to review at the end of the season ,we've definitely had our share of bad decisions.
West Ham United are just 90 minutes away from an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium and supporters could be forgiven for counting their chickens ahead of their replay with Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United at Upton Park. The Hammers played some great stuff in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last month but couldn’t hold on after Dimitri Payet had curled in a 25-yard free kick to give Slaven Bilic’s men the lead.
Payet has been phenomenal this season and his impact has been one of the key reasons for West Ham’s rise to prominence. The Hammers sit sixth in the Premier League and still have an outside chance of finishing in the top four this year. While they will need both Manchester clubs to slip up, it’s certainly possible – especially if West Ham continue to win their matches and pile the pressure onto both City and United.
And with West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium next season, the club could be on the verge of a new dawn and an era of potential success. The Hammers are priced at 9/2 to win the FA Cup with Betway and it would take a brave man to back against Bilic’s men on current form. However, they have plans to be bigger and better than the sporadic Wembley appearance. West Ham want to be the next major, footballing superpower.
But for now, an FA Cup triumph would more than suffice. If West Ham can reach the semi-finals at the expense of Manchester United, they will stand a great chance of success. After all, Everton have struggled for consistency this season and both Crystal Palace and Watford are struggling for goals. With Payet in sensational form, it would almost be ‘name on the trophy’ time at Upton Park.
If you fancy a punt on West Ham to win the FA Cup, go to sports.betway.com for the latest news, odds and information regarding both Bilic’s men and the competition. The Hammers are intending on building a dynasty era at the Olympic Stadium but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Bilic’s men win one final piece of silverware before bidding an emotional farewell to the Boleyn Ground. With a bit of luck, they’re certainly capable.
The future is certainly bright for those associated with West Ham United and fans from all over the United Kingdom will be looking forward to visiting their new home. The Olympic Stadium certainly fits the bill for champagne football and the Hammers’ title aspirations may well be achieved away from Upton Park. If they continue to improve under Bilic, a top four finish and title challenge is only a matter of years away.