If anyone had said to me or any other West Ham fan that we’d win 8-0 at some point this season, even if it was against Macclesfield in the League Cup, we’d have laughed you off completely. But that happened last night, and although we can’t particularly “milk” a result like that, it’s nice to talk about it of course. That and the previous 0-0 draw with Chelsea will certainly give us a big confidence boost going into Saturday’s game against Manchester United.
Other than just the general gloating about hammering a team bottom of League Two, there were certainly genuine positives to take from the game. If you know me, you’ll know how much I care about the academy and bringing players through, so I was over the moon to see three debuts. There was a man-of-the-match performance from talented attacker Grady Diangana, who chipped in with two goals at the end, plus the highly-rated duo Joe Powell and Conor Coventry who made impressive cameos in the second half, with Powell grabbing an assist for Diangana’s second goal.
Hopefully that won’t be the last we’ll see of those three this season. In fact, I’d much rather have Diangana around the squad than certain wingers who’ve put in below-par performances, but the 20-year old needs to be eased in gently, and if he’s not guaranteed that then a loan may be of good use this January. A few other first-team faces from the game will likely make way for other players. Manuel Pellegrini has mentioned that Marko Arnautovic should be available for the game, which should be a huge help.
Things are looking up for the Hammers. Of course, there has been the occasional dip in form (such as the result against Wolves) but on the whole we’ve looked a lot better than we did at the start of the season. The centre-back pairing of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop is beginning to look solid as can be, showing fairly similar – if not better – shades of peak Angelo Ogbonna/Winston Reid from 2015/16, whilst the attacking unit of Anderson, Yarmolenko and Arnautovic is beginning to become a huge problem for opposition defences – and with the return of Manuel Lanzini in the next few months, things are looking quite mouthwatering for Hammers fans.
Our opponents in Saturday’s early kickoff haven’t had the best results in recent games, particularly the loss to Derby County on penalties in the Carabao Cup. That will surely have knocked their morale a bit, plus the fracturing relationship between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho (for the record, I’m on Pogba’s side!) will mean we could get the advantage over them in terms of team spirit. Nevertheless, anything could happen but we can be confident going into the game, and should come away with at least a point.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-1 Manchester United
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Lukasz Fabianszki; Arthur Masuaku, Fabian Balbuena, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks; Mark Noble, Declan Rice; Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio; Marko Arnautovic.