West Ham problems with only one striker in Michail Antonio and still no replacement for Sebastien Haller

When it comes to a football team, there’s no question that one of the positions where there has to be some depth is the striker position. Every team has at least 3-4 strikers in case one of them gets injured, someone else can get the job done or to come out of the bench to try and score a goal to rescue points, win a match or win titles.

However there’s one manager that loves to have small squads, that manager is David Moyes. Unlike his competitors, David Moyes only has Michail Antonio as striker in his squad, a decision that many fans don’t like knowing that there’ll be a time where Michail Antonio will get injured, and problems would soon arrive.

At the time of writing there hasn’t been any official offer made for a striker from West Ham other than the rejected loan offer for Flamengo’s Gabriel Barbosa which can only mean one thing, David Moyes doesn’t see the problem many fans see and therefore Michail Antonio will be the only striker in the squad until the end of the season. If Antonio get’s injured, what can Moyes do without a natural striker at the squad?

Image Reference: Wiki0096 via Wikipedia, 4/6/21, CC BY 4.0

Since Sebastien Haller’s departure to Ajax last winter the only striker available in the squad has been Michail Antonio. Although there have been times where Jarrod Bowen has played at the striker position, playing him up front would result on a huge loss on the wings where chances are normally created. Another possible solution for the striker problem could be playing with a false-nine. During his time at the Spanish National Team, Vicente del Bosque played Cesc Fabregas as a false-nine or in other words, playing striker less. David Moyes could study how the false-nine on Del Bosque’s teams worked and then try to shape it up to his preferences resulting on a viable option that could improve the squad.

The most obvious option is to sign another striker which many fans want. There have been many names available but there hasn’t been an offer for any of them. First off Anthony Martial who is looking to leave Manchester United for playing time could be a great fit for the squad with a similar play style to Michail Antonio, he’s fast, strong and can finish with ease, however it seems that Sevilla are going to get the Frenchman on loan until the end of the season. Talking about Sevilla another great option would be Youssef En-Nesyri, a player that David Moyes loves but hasn’t been able to get the striker due to Sevilla rejecting all offers sent. With 8 days left for the end of the transfer market, could a striker join the Hammers at least until the end of the season?

David Moyes’ favourite option which would cost nothing to the team is playing U-23’s striker Sonny Perkins in case Michail Antonio gets injured. The 17-year-old striker has already made his debut with the first team but has yet to score his first goal with the hammers. A very physical, agile, and vertical striker, Sonny Perkins is somewhat different to Haller and Antonio. His clinical finishing makes him a great striker but his speed and runs make him even better. Surprisingly, Sonny wasn’t a striker until last season, but his intelligence has helped him get into the first team in less than a year. Having made him debut this season against Rapid Vienna, David Moyes could soon get his “winter transfer signing” in the form of the talented England international.

In conclusion, whatever David Moyes does is what he thinks is the most beneficial for the team, in this case it looks like he will trust the academy and play Sonny Perkins if Michail Antonio gets injured which fits perfect with West Ham’s philosophy of developing players until they reach the first team, we have had Declan Rice at the midfield who is an academy graduate, why not do the same with Sonny Perkins and give him the confidence he needs.

Thoughts on Sky Sports News no longer aired in the United States after NBCSN’s shutdown last week

One week ago at midnight on Saturday, the NBC Sports Network or NBCSN 24-hour cable sports channel was taken off the air by Comcast/NBC management since its launch nearly a decade back in 2012, there’s still no answer as to when Sky Sports News will end up this year having aired it as a two-hour simulcast in the morning between 2019-2021.

Unfortunately, they addressed this situation earlier this week on Monday that SSN is not currently on its broadcast or streaming schedule via Peacock.

It’s a shame SSN won’t be aired on USA Network because that channel is well renowned for their entertainment and unscripted programming over the last 30 years, they are unable or don’t need to sacrifice some re-run drama marathons by putting some soccer & foreign sports news on linear TV when USA is a part-time NBC Sports channel alongside CNBC despite inheriting over 1,500 hours of programming from the now-defunct NBCSN.

And not even putting on Peacock when Pro Football Talk is already in there which means die-hard soccer and expat sports fans in the USA are missing out some of their daily fix from a recognized sports network they know so well that began when they were little before some moved Stateside later in life, SSN might be back only for every transfer-window coverage of Soccer during deadline day at the end of August and January on USA but it looks these weekly sports news bulletins will only be available in the UK and Ireland from now on.

Could Daniel Kretinsky be West Ham’s new owner after David Gold & David Sullivan?

The third richest Czech should become the minority owner of West Ham United in the first week of November. This is good news for the London’s club because the fans are not happy with the current owners. Also, the club announced that they got permission to increase the stadium for additional 2.500 seats. It seems that the money from the Czech billionaire will come at the right time in West Ham.

West Ham has been building a small Czech colony in East London for the past two years. In January last year, Tomas Soucek arrived, who after quality games in the summer of 2020 was bought from Slavia Prague, in the same time when Vladimir Coufal also arrived from the same team. A year later, Alex Kral also came to West Ham on loan from Spartak Moscow, after which jokes immediately appeared that they were no longer Hammers, but Czechs. And what can we say after the information that the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky is on the verge of buying a package of shares, which means 27% of the club.

The third richest Czech, the owner of Prague’s Sparta, is determined to make a step forward and expand his influence in the top five leagues. That idea did not occur to him yesterday, three years ago he was connected with the potential purchase of AC Milan or Roma. The media in England claim that the purchase of a little more than a quarter of shares is just the beginning and that in the future, Kretinsky has a vision to become the majority owner.

The purchase should be realized in the first week of November, most likely for the weekend, when West Ham welcomes Liverpool in London. The financiers claim that the contract will contain a clause on full control, which will be activated after a period that has not been specified yet. At the same time, the estimated total value of the club at this moment is somewhere between 700,000,000 and 825,000,000 euros.

Image Reference: Egghead06 via Wikipedia, 23/5/21, CC BY 4.0 SA

When the deal will be official it will be known how much money the club will have for transfers in January but according to experts West Ham and Newcastle will both have more than enough budget to bring quality football stars in January. Since Kretinsky is owner of Sparta Prague it is possible that these two clubs will have cooperation in developing young players and transfer players in both ways in junior and senior categories.

Kretinsky’s fortune is estimated at around 4,000,000,000 euros, and in addition to jobs in the homeland related to the energy, media, industrial and retail sectors, he has a serious stake in the postal service company Royal Mail, as well as in the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, the second most powerful markets in Great Britain.

If at one point he completely takes over West Ham, the long-term rule of David Gold and his best friend David Sullivan, who bought the club in 2010, will come to an end. West Ham has been owned by two former big fans of the club since 2010, David Gold and David Sullivan, after they sold Birmingham City. These two made money in the porn industry, and under their leadership West Ham were relegated once in 2010/11 but returned to the Premier League in 2012/13 via the EFL Championship Play-Offs and became a team for respect.

It started with the change of the minority package of shares in Wolverhampton, followed by the purchase of Newcastle by the Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the point for some future period could be put by Daniel Kretinsky. And then it is very possible that we will see the Czech colony rising at the Olympic Stadium in London.

Is Arsenal’s busiest summer transfer business of 2021/22 enough to save Mikel Arteta’s job & their Premier League campaign?

Image Reference: The Emirates Stadium
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Ian S – geograph.org.uk/p/3111029

It was only a few years ago, when Arsenal fans could hardly wait for Arsene Wenger to leave the “gunner” bench after more than two decades and winning “some” trophies. When their wish was finally fulfilled, they hoped that their wishes would come true and that the London great team would once again dominate the Premier League and in European competitions. But, even in the worst thoughts, they could not dream that Arsenal would go astray, and the results at the beginning of the new season speak best of how bad the situation is.

Arsenal played three rounds in the Premier League and suffered the same number of defeats. The last one was humiliating, because Manchester City won 5: 0!

It can be said that in the duel between the two teams led by the Spanish coaches, Guardiola “broke” Arteta. Right at the beginning, it was clear that Arsenal will not have a good time against the “citizens”. The goals of Gundogan, Torres and Jesus were in a row, and already at half time, City was leading 3: 0. In the continuation, Hernandez and again Torres only added salt to the wound of the “gunners”.

After three rounds played, Arsenal has not scored a goal or won a point. The question is also when… The club from the “Emirates” will have the longest playing experience in the strongest rank of English football, and the last time it had to be in the lower league was 108 years ago.

Arsenal is the biggest spender this summer from English team, but the sports sector is not really famous and popular among fans. They mostly bought young players and always are talking about club’s future, but their reality is really bad.

Although the transfer period in the Premier League is closed, according to Sky Sports, Serge Aurier, who recently terminated his contract with Tottenham, could join the club. Tottenham hired Emerson Royal from Barcelona for 25,000,000 euros, so after four years, Aurier became redundant. As the management failed to sell him, even though it had offers from Russia, Turkey and France, it decided to terminate the cooperation with the 28-year-old football player. That is how the former Paris Saint-Germain football player became a free agent. His wish is to stay in England. He is followed by several clubs, including Arsenal. The Gunners set aside 165,500,000 euros for reinforcements this summer, but they did not solve the issue of the right back. Hector Bellerin was loaned out to Betis, while Ainsley Maitland Niles publicly expressed his desire to leave the club, so there was writing that he would be removed from the first team.

After talks with Mikel Arteta, it was decided Niles to remain part of the team and to will fight for a place in the first squad in the continuation of the season. Takehiro Tomiyasu who was bought from Bologna (18,600,000 euros), can play along the right line, but is primarily a stopper, was also hired to fullfil the defensive line but he is not enough.

Aurier would thus become the seventh reinforcement of Arsenal this summer. Previously, Ben White from Brighton (58,500,000 euros), Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid (35,000,000 euros), goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United (28,000,000 euros), the mentioned Takehiro Tomiyasu, as well as the young Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht. (€ 17,500,000) and left-back Nuno Tavares of Benfica (€ 8,000,000) were bought. The young Folarin Balogun was also promoted to the first team, who will compete for a place in the top of the attack with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.

Arsenal fans used to make fun of themselves that they were regularly fourth, and now that is their biggest fantasy.

The competition is too strong this year as well, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are teams that everyone believes will take the places that lead to the Champions League, and it really seems impossible for Arsenal to get involved in that race.

There is also the always strong Leicester, Aston Villa and West Ham should not be written off, while Tottenham are still searching for the real self, but they will definitely be a competitor in the fight for the top 6.

Arsenals’ biggest chance for winning a trophy most likely be one of the English cup tournaments. Not too many matches and easier opponents until the final rounds seems like ideal for a team like Arsenal at the moment. They showed in the past seasons that especially FA Cup is competition that suits Arsenal and fans are hoping that there is a real chance for trophy.

However this will be very difficult and turbulent season for the team from north London.

How West Ham Can Improve Fan Relations In The 2021/22 Season?

Following West Ham’s great start to the 2021/22 season, fans of the club are only inclined to be more enthusiastic about the team’s future. However, there are some glaring pain points that the club must address to ensure that their support doesn’t fizzle out in vain.

Potentially the most looming worry, West Ham is not in a financially safe spot to chase ambitious dreams. Even with their superb performance in recent years, such as being a few points shy of a Champions League appearance, finishing top six in the Premier League for the first time since 1999, and providing a consistent performance under David Moyes. Still, supporters can’t help but wonder if these gains will be boosted under the ownership of PAI Capital.

According to Nasib Piriyev, managing partner of PAI Capital, buying West Ham will change the standards of the club to a regular top 6 spot, improve fan relations and most importantly, provide a bigger budget in the transfer window.

We wouldn’t be quick to rule out the gold mine that PAI Capital could be, but there is something special brewing for the Hammers, and switching to a new owner could set the course off sail.

Rob Newman’s appointment in West Ham as the new head of Recruitment and Scouting is a positive move**. This is reflected in the recent transfer window. In August, the club signed new talent in the likes of Kurt Zouma, Nikola Vlasic and Alex Kral to support blooming players like Said Benrahma who is wonderfully adjusting to his new role as a goalscorer following Jesse Lingard’s departure.

Michail Antonio’s recent adoption of the number 9 jersey is also certain to have ignited the support of fans who have watched him do justice to the mantle this season.

The squad’s average age might be among the highest in the league at 29.4, but their performance delivers superbly. With U23 players like Mipo Odubeko (Huddersfield Town), Conor Coventry (Peterborough) and Frederik Alves (Sunderland in League 1) out on loan, they are sure to receive more priority in their respective teams against seasoned players. Upon their return, their performance is sure to be miles ahead of any previous potential they held in the senior team. This will undoubtedly lead to more options for David Moyes in his strategic vision for West Ham.

Off the pitch, West Ham has been making strides towards improvement with the unveiling of statues dedicated to club legends Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters at Boleyn Ground, the team’s former home.

Image Reference: Hammersfan via Wikipedia, 11/2/19

Unfortunately, the Olympic Stadium lacks a traditional ownership from the club which is a severe minus for fans that love a real home turf to visit. If West Ham could convert from a renting model to a purchase of the Olympic Stadium, that would be ideal. However, judging from the current strides, buying a stadium doesn’t seem far off into the future. This would be a great move for players as well, because a custom training ground will have facilities prioritized towards team improvement.

Judging from the recent developments, West Ham can expect a top six finish in the Premier League, League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League respectively. David Moyes will have to take advantage of the recent transfers and proper training routines to ensure that players remain in top shape for what’s to come.

** PS: The new Director of Football appointment will begin in late September after Rob Newman served a period of gardening leave by his previous employer Manchester City.

SAME OLD STORY FOR NORWICH THIS SEASON

Only 2 games into the new Premier League season and Norwich are bottom once again. They’ve had an incredibly tough opening 2 games, playing Liverpool and Manchester City back to back. It is quite early but it appears to be the same old story for Norwich as it was 2 years ago. Today I’ll be taking a look at different aspects of Norwich and assessing how I think they’ll do.

Transfer Strategy –

Norwich have always used the “Buy low, sell high” strategy when it comes to transfers. They’ll buy a player on the cheap, develop him and then sell him for a big margin of profit. There’s nothing wrong with this approach as Leicester used to do this after their success but the difference between Leicester and Norwich is that Leicester reinvested their money properly back into the squad. For example Norwich sold Emi Buendia for £35m this window and they haven’t exactly spent it that well. They made the transfer of Ben Gibson permanent for £8m from Burnley, they went to Werder Bremen who got relegated, and bought both Milot Rashica and Josh Sargent, who scored a combined 8 goals last season. Their defence was the main issue the last time they were here and they clearly haven’t reinforced that area well enough to warrant them staying up and that already doesn’t fill me with confidence.

Daniel Farke –

Farke himself said in an interview with the Canaries website some time ago that teams who are promoted to the Premier League because they’re better at attacking rather than defending “find it difficult to do well” or stay up in the first season because in the Premier League, those attackers who were so good in the Championship won’t do as well because the level of the Premier League is higher. He also said that teams who are promoted because of their defensive ability find it easier to stay up because they’re already so solid. It seems that Farke needs to take his own advice and he needs to make this Norwich team more solid and harder to play against. He persists with this style of play and of course it’s entertaining but I think he was lucky the first season as they let him off because it was his first season so he got lucky but I feel this season if Norwich don’t pick up results or form by Christmas then I think that Farke will be sacked as the owners would like to stay in the league and wouldn’t want to face the same fate of two years ago.

In conclusion, both of these factors together I think will unfortunately mean that Norwich will end up being relegated. Their transfer strategy doesn’t seem that reassuring and it looks like Farke is persisting with his style of play but if they do sack him by Christmas and get in a new manager, they might be able to survive, depending on the damage done.

Southampton FC’s strikeforce in 2021/22 season

The team from the south of England, Southampton was among the most active teams on the transfer market this summer. Their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said the team aims to easily finish in the middle of the table this season. So first they freed up space by selling a few players and then the new reinforcements were introduced to the team.

The transfer of Danny Ings to Aston Villa made a lot of noise in England and in all Europe. The club from Birmingham paid Southampton 30,000,000 pounds for his transfer, which is about 35,000,000 euros, since he had another year of contract with the Saints. An official statement from Aston Villa states that the agreement was reached for three seasons. This was great move from Southampton board as Ings was in good form and he had only one year left of the contract with Southampton and perhaps it is the best time to sell the player and for a fair price.

Jannik Vestergard was transferred to Leicester, Mario Lemina to Nice and it was time for Southampton to spend some money. And they spent very wise.

The Saints were expected to go in search of the striker after Danny Ings moved to Aston Villa and an obvious solution was found in Adam Armstrong from Blackburn. The young England international started his career in Newcastle, and played on loan at Coventry, Barnsley, Bolton and Blackburn before signing a permanent contract with Rovers in 2018. Armstrong scored 28 goals in 40 games in the Championship last season, he was second on the list of scorers. The 24 years old striker will have to replace Danny Ings and it will be very difficult task. The Saints bought him for around 17 million euros and the striker said that it was dream comes true for him.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said “He will bring a lot of qualities to our team and he gives us another good option in attack, which will be important for us”, and he was right as the young striker scored in his debut in Premier League against Everton on Goodison Park in the first round of the season.

Armstrong’s partner in the attacking line will be Scottish striker Che Adams. He joined Southampton in 2019 from Birmingham. Last season in 36 appearances for the team he scored 9 goals and made 5 assists. Adams already made his first assist of the season in the match against Everton as he assisted to Armstrong in a 3:1 defeat. But it is important that the 2 strikers are already starting to complement each other on the pitch, and it is expected throughout the season this attacking duo to develop relationship and playing style which can bring the team more goals and possibly more wins.

We shouldn’t go far back in history to see how Southampton found a striker in the lower leagues and develop him in a world class striker. Rickie Lambert was among the top goal scorers in English League Two for several years before he joined The Saints from Bristol Rovers and later became club’s legend. He raised his game in Southampton to another level and he helped the team to enter Premier League even from League One. Both Che Adams and Adam Armstrong came to Southampton from lower ranked league the Championship and it will be interesting to follow their development and to see if they can become new Rickie Lambert.

Southampton also has some young strikers that in the future can make some impact. Michael Obafemi (21) is still in the club but he will have to work his way to the first squad and perhaps he will get some chance to play this season in some Cup match. Dan N’lundulu (22) is on loan to Lincoln City and he also has to work a lot if he wants to return to Southampton and to be competitive for the first squad.

It is obvious that this season the duo Armstrong – Adams will be first option in the attack for Southampton and we can’t wait to see if they will deliver.

THE OLYMPIC STADIUM AND ITS “HAMMERING” PROBLEMS

Image Reference: Maxpixel

Ever since its inauguration the 5th of May 2012, two months before its first official use for the 2012 London Olympic Games, the London Olympic Stadium has been through some various problems about its use for a variety of sports such as football and athletics, and its controversial capacity that has varied overtime.

Originally built for the 2012 Olympic Games as the venue for athletics and both the opening and closing ceremonies the Olympic Stadium is known to be the first ever stadium that can be removed piece by piece. With an original capacity of 80000 the London Olympic Stadium underwent renovations so that it could be used for football upon the arrival of Premier League side West Ham United. 

After the arrival of the hammers, the Olympic Stadium saw its capacity reduced to 60000 even though a good part of the athletics track was covered by uncountable rows of seats.

Image Reference: Egghead06 via Wikipedia, 10/9/16

Since its inaugural match, West Ham have faced various problems with both the stadium and fans such as match-tickets marked with non-existing seating to complete discomfort among the distance of the crowd from the pitch and the vanishing atmosphere that the Boleyn Ground had every time the irons played. 

Ever since arriving at the now known as London Stadium tensions between the fans and the West Ham board have grown to an all-time high blaming them of selling their dream, the beloved Boleyn Ground, for a nightmare, that nightmare being the Olympic Stadium.

Although the president and its executives tried everything to put the fans on their side by adding a new set of seating on both ends for fans to be closer to action, it’s already too late.

Image Reference: daniel0685 from Flickr, 6/1/18

Except for the 2020-21 season (only season without fans for the most part), the new stadium was also affecting the team’s performance finishing on the bottom-half of the table 3 of the 5 full-seasons played at the London Stadium, historically that’s where West Ham would normally finish but with new owners and a big investment on the club with the promise of new signings that would improve the squad through time European football was the minimum fans would accept.

However as we all know, on this sport promises tend to be broke and of course, those signings once promised transformed into minimum investment on the acquisition of new players, an example of that is this season in which with only three weeks left of the transfer window the only signings have been Craig Dawson (he was already at the club on loan from Watford) and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola from French side PSG.

With the return of fans this weekend for the season opener against Newcastle United, manager David Moyes will try to repeat the feat he achieved last season but with the addition of the long-awaited return of fans, the perfect opportunity to give the irons hope for the following seasons, this time with both Premier League and Europa League football and a bright squad with talented players such as Algerian winger Said Benrahma, Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek and England international Declan Rice backed-up with the experience of veteran and captain Mark Noble. The London Stadium will hold both Premier League and European football for the second time in its short history.

However, a problem remains. If West Ham want to renovate the stadium demolishing the athletics track and therefore moving the stands closer to the pitch, they’ll need to buy the stadium, an investment that if not prepared correctly, could result on huge losses and high amounts of debt. 

An example of a team whose stadium was renovated was Spanish side Real Sociedad, their stadium known as the Reale Arena for sponsoring reasons had its low tier renovated bringing the stands closer to the action that resulted on an overall improvement on the players performances and making fans more involved on the game. 

Image Reference: Bhgh543bgf via Wikipedia, 28/2/20

For the operation to happen not only do West Ham need to put in the money, but it also must be approved by the London council which would result on the creation of a new stadium where athletics could be held. In the case of this happening London could be seeing a potential decrease on the overall interest in athletics which would result on the loss of major athletics events for a pursuable future.

Nevertheless West Ham have the perfect opportunity this season to bring back to life the atmosphere that once died when the last game at the Boleyn Ground was played.

Europa League football as well as a promising squad that has shown to be solid on both ends and the possible signing of Serbian youngster Nikola Milenkovic after negotiations for both Kurt Zouma and Tammy Abraham got complicated could be the missing piece of the puzzle for the backline of the hammers and what a better place to make all of this happen than in the London Stadium, a place where Olympic records were beaten, and incredible stories will be written.