PGL: So it’s the last day of January, we’re 5pts behind Villa, 6pts behind Liverpool and Chelsea and 8pts behind United. Not where we hoped but not as bad as some are making out. This week I’ve been in touch with the Editor of Hammer website Graeme.
PGL: So what’s been going on with the Hammers since we last met?
Graeme: We’re enjoying something of a purple patch having won six of our last seven games in all competitions (the other game being a 2-2 draw at Newcastle). We’re also unbeaten away from home since we played you at the Boleyn back in October (some seven matches including visits to Anfield and Stamford Bridge).
PGL: How is Zola bedding in at the club?
Graeme: 13 points from the last 15 suggests fairly well. The supporters are delighted with the team’s progression and we produced a vintage performance against Hull on Wednesday night; only their goalkeeper prevented a cricket score.
PGL: Are you as sick of the transfer window as we are?
Graeme: It’s proved to be a huge failure, hasn’t it. Fortunately we’ve done far better out of it this year (having sold a few fringe players and a past-his-best 30-year-old striker for night on £15m) than predicted. Then again, much of what the media have published regarding our club this year has proved to be utter unsubstantiated nonsense.
PGL: You’ve just signed 19-year-old striker Savio Nserek from Brescia, do you think investing in youth is the way forward for West Ham?
Graeme: Absolutely – although it is imperative that the youngsters are complemented by experienced heads (hence the imminent arrival of Czech international midfielder Radoslav Kovac, who could play this weekend if he receives clearance).
PGL: Were Hammers glad to see the back of Bellamy or were you hoping he’d stay?
Graeme: Either way was fine really; he was beginning to find form but £15m for a player with no more than a year left at the top is a deal we couldn’t turn down (and not dissimilar to that which saw Henry move to Spain, I guess).
PGL: Will Zola be coming to the Emirates looking for 3 points or one?
Graeme: Hard to say but given our recent form, three should be the target. I’ve honestly not felt this positive about facing an Arsenal side since the ’97 Cup quarter finals (yes, I’m aware how they turned out!)
PGL: We’re missing a few around the middle at the moment. What players will you look to, to exploit this?
Graeme: Valon Behrami (who is turning out to be one of the Premier League’s signings of the season) and Scott Parker will be snapping at heels whilst youngsters Mark Noble and Jack Collison will look to pose a threat going forward.
PGL: Robin Van Persie has been in great form for us since the turn of the year. Who will be given the job of stopping him?
Graeme: Either James Collins or Matthew Upson. Both have been imperious in recent weeks.
PGL: And finally what’s your prediction for the game?
Graeme: I can’t remember ever having called this fixture correctly! We’ve have won twice at your place in the last four seasons (last winners at Highbury, first at the Emirates as I’m sure you’re painfully aware) and are one of the league’s in-form sides, whilst the Arsenal are struggling to maintain their top four position. Given all that I expect a narrow home win!
PGL: All season I’ve only got one score prediction right so today I’m not going to bother! But I’m going for a home win. Personally I’d like to see Super Samir Nasri move back into the middle and Bendy start in front of Ade (he doesn’t deserve a place after his moaning performance on Wednesday night). More than anything I want to see us put the ball back where it belongs, on the deck. Lets hope were all happy Gooners come 5 o’clock.
Over and Out