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Three West Ham changes for April

West Ham’s Premier League fixture changes for April have been confirmed, with three away games selected for live TV broadcast.

The Hammers will now play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday 8th April, with Sky Sports showing the 8pm kick-off live.

The following Saturday, 13th April, West Ham travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in a 5.30pm kick-off which will be broadcast by BT Sport.

The third TV selection is the trip to Spurs, which will be shown on Sky Sports on Saturday 27 April with a 12.30pm kick-off either at Wembley or their new stadium.

The Spurs fixture is still subject to further movement to Sunday 28 April dependent on the UEFA Champions League participation of Premier League clubs the following Tuesday.

 

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Report: Barcelona make Gomez their number one target

According to Mundo Deportivo, West Ham transfer target Maxi Gomez is at the top of a  Barcelona shortlist to be a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez due to his experience in La Liga as well as them being national teammates which should help him adapt to the club and learn the style of play. However, the report claims his release clause of 50 million euros could be a stumbling block.

The 22-year-old who is likened to Suarez in that he enjoys terrorising the opposition defence. Barcelona see him as a versatile player for the team whether that be direct or patient build-up play. Having someone like him to play off would be ideal for Lionel Messi due to how he often utilises quick passages of combination play to break through the opposition in the final third, although Gomez’ link-up play would need to improve claims the report.

Claret and Hugh say:

Maxi Gomez was hotly tipped as a replacement for Marko Arnautovic in the January transfer window when the Austrian striker had his heart set on a move to China. The Chinese clubs were unable to match  the Hammers valuation so the striker was told by Manual Pellegrini he could not move. It remains to be seen whether anyone can match that valuation this summer with the player turning 30 in April.  The Hammers will have transfer limited funds in the Summer and are unlikely to want to get into a bidding war with Barcelona to pay above the £45m release clause. Unless someone comes in with a mega money transfer deal for Arnie this sumner that would fund the Gomez deal, this transfer is looking less likely as happening in the summer.

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Arnautovic named player of the year

Hammer Marko Arnautovic has been named as Austrian player of the year for 2018 by his fellow countrymen.

Speaking to Austrian paper Kronen Zeitung, he pledged his future to West Ham. saying: “I think it’s really obvious what the media attention has caused. Otherwise, I do not want to say much about it anymore. I’m a West Ham United player and I do my utmost to be successful with my team.”

On winning his player of the year award Arnautovic added how much he appreciates his supporters for West Ham and Austria.

“That’s the most important, fans, especially those from the homeland, they give so much encouragement, it’s outstanding, It’s great that so many people are taking their time to vote. What matters to the striker, in particular, is his relationship with the little ones.

“Experiences with children are beautiful. I always want to give them pleasure.  If I give shoes or a shirt, the boy or girl and I will not forget that day so fast.”

Arnautovic is the 23rd different Austrian player to be given this honour, and the first to do so while based in the Premier League.

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Relaxed Antonio shrugs off the pain

Michail Antonio has seen the dark side of racism during his time in the game but as he approaches his 100th Premier League appearance tomorrow night against Fulham refuses to be concerned by ignorance from the bigots.

The Hammers utility man is far more concerned with being a good example to his own children by refusing to react when the chanting starts.

He’s a refreshing character who comes across as honest to a fault and his decision to treat such behaviour with the contempt it deserves is possibly the perfect answer to those who are continually on the subject, thus perhaps highlighting it.

Antonio of course was quoted on Sky Sports as saying that racist chanted at games should perhaps be punished by points deductions or behind-closed-doors games.

ClaretandHugh followed that with a poll in which a vast majority claimed they had heard no such chanting inside the London Stadium.

For all his words at the time Michail takes little notice of the objects of contempt who judge a person on their skin pigment,

He told the Mail: “When I was 13 one of the boys on the other team called me a monkey. When I was younger, that sort of thing got me angry. I was the one who got a red card that day.’ 

Fifteen years later, the pain of being racially abused remains. Of course, his life and career have been on an upward curve since then.

Although the pain remains he said he has now learned to control himself and his emotions explaining: ‘I feel like black players have come a long way. Every team in the league has a black player.

‘It’s just a few people out there being ignorant. I feel it’s more ignorance than anything else. They want to throw an insult out to try to hurt us. But we’ve come a long way, we’ve got a tougher skin and it’s not going to affect us.

‘People say things to annoy us but that doesn’t annoy us, we’re past that. It doesn’t affect me in any way, shape or form. 

‘When I was younger it affected me, it hit a nerve. Now I’m older, I’ve got my own kids to set an example to.’

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Pelle explains his Sullivan relationship

Hammers chief Manuel Pellegrini has spoken about the once much discussed relationship with co owner David Sullivan declaring in a very straightforward manner: “I have not had any problems.”

A lot of Hammers fans have long believed the chief shareholder imposes his own will on managers and makes all the decisions on signings and departures.

Pellegrini, however, in an exclusive interview with  The Independent has confirmed what Sullivan explained in the summer -that he wants to take his hands off the steering well in relation to team matters..

Sullivan’s talk of appointing a director of football and an analytical department was greeted among some as a public relations exercise at the end of a 2017/18 season disfigured by demonstrations, managerial changes and the regular flirtation with relegation.

The appointment of Pellegrini began a shift in perceptions and the new manager has now made it clear that Sullivan was determined to make the changes of which he spoke.

He explained: ” I spoke with him (Sullivan) long before we signed a contract, he told me what he wanted to do with this club.

One of things he wanted to do was to grow as a club. He wants to rest a little bit from working with the players and the squad, so he asked me for a sporting director. [West Ham appointed Pellegrini’s old friend Mario Husillos last June].  I told him the way I like to work, he agreed with me. We are not going to have any problems.

The manager also made it clear in the Indy piece that he loves “technical ” players and hopes eventually to see Manu Lanzini, Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Andrei Yarmolenko on the pitch together.

The situation surrounding Wilshere may not make that possible but Pellegrini said: “Technical players make the game easy. They have a view of the pitch different from other players.

They put the last pass for the strikers. They are the players that lose two or three balls in a year. The most difficult thing is football is to give the ball to a player that has the same colour shirt.”

He added: “Those players make a difference especially for the strikers. When you don’t have them, you must try to find another way of playing. But we have play makers here, and I hope some day we are going to see all of them playing together.”

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Wilshere worries may bring Hammers judgement

Jack Wilshere may be approaching a make or break situation on his Hammers future should he be unable to make a full recovery from his injury problems!

Manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed yesterday it was hoped an evaluation next week would make the player’s situation clearer.

Absent from action since December he will be given time to recover from his current problems but should they, and the general uncertainty surrounding them continue,  could lead the club towards making a crucial judgement.

And that could well include a pay off if a suitable compensation package could be put together which were to prove mutually agreeable.

In assessing the situation  manager Manuel Pellegrini said at his pre-Fulham presser: “We will evaluate him next week and then we will be more clear about his future.”

There are now concerns the former Gunner’s season may be over and were fears of an ongoing problem to emerge a compensation offer and contract termination could  be a consideration.

Wilshere was signed on a free to cover for Manu Lanzini but with the Argentinian now fit, Samir Nasri set for another year on the squad and Andriy Yarmolenko recovering, the former Gunner’s position looks precarious.

He is on a deal currently worth £10 million in wages over the next two years and were the Irons to offer around £7 million a deal could be possibly be done in a worst case scenario.

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Klopp fined by FA over West Ham referee jibe

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was today fined £45,000 by the Football Association  for comments he made about the referee after the 1-1 draw with West Ham in a Premier League game at the London Stadium on February 4th.

The German had said that referee Kevin Friend’s performance was affected by the decision to allow Sadio Mane’s opening goal, which should have been ruled out for being over a yard and a half offside.

Juergen Klopp has been fined £45,000 after accepting an FA charge for comments made following Liverpool’s league game against West Ham United on 4 February 2019,” the FA said in a statement. His comments made during a post-match interview breached FA Rule E3(1), as they questioned the integrity of the match referee and/or implied bias”

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Anderson making more demands on himself

Felipe Anderson happily admits he has worked his socks off to repay the faith shown in him by Manuel Pellegrini and West Ham.

He has shown – game by game exactly what is required to go higher – quality signings and a lot of money. Sounds simple of course but this is the first season many can remember where the Hammers have startedto show the sort of ambition that can take them to the next level.

It should not be forgotten that Anderson’s arrival smashed the Hammers transfer record by around £12 million at £35 million with Marko Arnautovic relegated to a poor second in that respect.

The Brazilian took time to settle but once he did the quality started to show big time and now with Manuel Lanzini surely to play alongside him Hammers fans can justifiably start to become very excited.

The man himself however believes he is still settling in and admits too that he needs to become stronger as he adapts to a game in England which is “end to end, with attack after attack.”

He explained to www.whufc.com: that dribbling is the key part of his game – a claim backed by the stats which show him ranked fifth in the Premier League.

He said: “That has been a key part of my game and you do get quite a lot of space in England. But the game is very intense and it is difficult to keep it up for the 90 minutes.

“Every game is end-to-end, with attack after attack. I am still adapting to that side of the game and I need to get stronger.

“I was very motivated from day one to repay the belief the club has shown in me. I have worked very hard to settle in quickly and am enjoying being part of the team, being in the city and taking part in such a project.”

Felipe Anderson celebrates scoring against Manchester United at London Stadium
Pic shows Felipe celebrating his first goal against Manchester United (via www.whufc.com)

 

 

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Sky pundit predicts comfortable win

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson predicts an easy 3-1 win for the Hammers when thy face Fulham tomorrow evening at the London Stadium.

Merson wrote on the Sky Sports website  “Fulham are in the must-win saloon but they are letting in goals for fun, and I don’t see anything except a victory for West Ham. It’s hard for Fulham to go somewhere and keep clean sheets and they also aren’t the highest scoring team, so I don’t see them getting anything here.

I can’t see Fulham surviving; defensively, they are not going to keep enough clean sheets. They are behind the eight-ball and the more they have to chase games, the more vulnerable they are going to be. I don’t give them a chance.

Claret and Hugh says:

Fulham have yet to win a single away game all season and have conceded a record 58 goals so far this season.  Enter West Ham which means we will probably hand them their first away win. As the old saying goes there is no easy wins and we must not be complacent for a team that seems designed for relegation. We must learn our lessons from previous lesser teams this season and come out of the blocks running with what Pellegrini calls big team mentality. Ranieri is no fool and will try to get his team to stop us from playing football in the hope of frustrating us and nicking a goal on the break. Let’s hope Manuel Pellegrini can out smart Ranieri and Marko Arnautovic can get back to his scoring ways.  COYI

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Hammers confident of Fulham double

West Ham supporters are confident of a Fulham double with 83% of Claret and Hugh readers expecting a West Ham win on Friday night. Just over 5% expect Fulham to win while the remaining 12% predict a draw.

West Ham won 2-0 away to Fulham in December and are hoping to complete a league double against the Cottagers for the time since the 2008-09 season.

Fulham won their first Premier League game away to West Ham in 2001 but they are winless in nine subsequent league visits (D4, L5).

West Ham have claimed just one victory in their last seven Premier League games (D3, L3), having won five of their previous six.

The Hammers have won nine league games already this season, one short of their final total last term.

The only club to have avoided relegation after taking 17 points or fewer from their first 26 Premier League games is West Brom in 2004-05.

Claudio Ranieri’s side have lost five of their previous six games. Fulham have taken just two points from their last 15 away games in the Premier League (D2, L13), and are the only top-flight side without an away win this season. Fulham have conceded a league-high 58 goals this season, 10 more than any other side. The Whites have lost their last eight London derbies, a new record in the top flight, and have taken one point from the last 36 available in such matches.