Monday, August 10

Daily WHUFC News - 10th August 2015

Kouyate and Zarate seal opening day win

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham United
Barclays Premier League

West Ham United kicked off the new season in style, winning 2-0 at Arsenal thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate.
Slaven Bilic could not have asked for a better to start to life as a Barclays Premier League manager, orchestrating the Hammers' first win at Emirates Stadium since 2007 and arresting a run of ten straight defeats to the Gunners. The 3,000 travelling fans were in dreamland when Kouyate rose to head their side into a 43rd minute lead, and it got better soon after the restart as Mauro Zarate fired home from long range. Arsenal huffed and puffed but struggled to break a resilientr Hammers side down as the east Londoners claimed the derby bragging rights. The big pre-match news was that the Hammers handed a league debut to Reece Oxford, making the Academy product the youngest ever Hammer to play in the Premier League. The 16-year-old made a composed start too, as West Ham made an early chance, Tomkins bursting forward from right back to knock across looking for Diafra Sakho, but Per Mertesacker was well positioned to stick a giant limb out and conced a corner.

After Mark Noble and Angelo Ogbonna picked up early bookings, Arsenal's first opportunity came with eleven minutes on the clock when Winston Reid's clearance was picked up by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who crashed a volley over. Dimitri Payet gave a glimpse of his considerable talent when he took an Aaron Cresswell crossfield ball out of the sky and crossed to Sakho, but Laurent Koscielny got across to ensure the ball would squirt through to Petr Cech. Ogbonna was impressing on debut and he showed sharp reactions to block from Olivier Giroud after the Frenchman controlled a Francis Coquelin cross on his chest.

On the half hour the Gunners came close to taking a fortunate lead when Aaron Ramsey's shot from outside the box took a massive deflection off Aaron Cresswell, looped up and struck the top of the crossbar with Adrian backpedalling. Ramsey and Payet then exchanged off-target shots, and just as it looked as though the interval would be reached the the scoresheet blank, Kouyate sent the away end into raptures.

Oxford was fouled by Ramsey, giving the Hammers a free-kick in a dangerous position and Kouyate was sharpest to it, beating Cech to Payet's delivery to nod into a gaping net. If the 3,000 travelling fans thought that was good, it got even better twelve minutes after the interval when Zarate, back from a loan spell at Queens Park Rangers, made it 2-0. Again, Cech would have been disappointed with his contribution as Zarate picked up on a loose clearance, spotted the shooting chance 25 yards out and beat the goalkeeper low to his right.

Arsene Wenger reacted by introducing Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez from the bench, but still the Hammers stood firm to restrict the home side's chances. Arsenal enjoyed more and more possession as the game went on, but West Ham defended strongly to frustrate the home crowd.
Adrian was sharp to deny Sanchez on a couple of occasions but he was not overworked as Bilic made the perfect start to life in the hotseat.

Arsenal: Cech; Debuchy (Alexis 67), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin (Walcott 58), Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Arteta, Chambers

Booked: Ramsey

West Ham United: Adrian; Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Oxford (Nolan 79), Noble, Kouyate, Payet; Zarate (Jarvis 62), Sakho (Maiga 90)
Subs: Randolph, Collins, Poyet, Lanzini

Goals: Kouyate 43, Zarate 57

Booked: Noble, Ogbonna, Tomkins

Noble thrilled with victory

West Ham United midfielder Mark Noble could not hide his excitement after playing his part in a memorable 2-0 victory over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium. Noble conducted a number of post-match interviews but saved his best smile for West Ham TV. The experienced midfielder was thrilled to be part of a superb all-round team display against the FA Cup holders and says it was one of the best victories he has ever achieved over the north London Club. Cheikhou Kouyate's header on the stroke of half-time and Mauro Zarate's well taken strike early in the second sealed an impressive three points for the Hammers. Noble had nothing but praise for the way his team-mates stuck together and showed the character and discipline to come away with a victory. Noble said: "It doesn't get much better than that. You can see how happy I am. I have done other interviews and had to be serious! This was a great performance and over the years we have not had the greatest of success here. "I have won here before when Bobby Zamora scored that fantastic goal and we have won today even more convincing than we did before. "It was a freak of nature when we won that day (back in 2007) and had one shot on target and scored. They had 49 shots at goal and didn't and we had the great escape with Carlos (Tevez). "But the whole team were fantastic today and I could go through every single one of them. I was proud of them today."

Noble had special praise for Reece Oxford who became the youngest player in the Club's history to make his Premier League debut at just 16 and feels he will grow even stronger. Noble added: "Reece has got the height, the stature to play in this league. He has still got a lot to learn and is enthusiastic. "The great thing about him is that he takes everything in his stride and that is great when you are playing in front of 50,000 every week. "I am on him in every day in training and I don't let him slip up one bit. He gets treated like any other player does because I know what he is capable of and I want to get the best out of him."

'It's an absolutely amazing result'

Slaven Bilic hailed every member of his team as West Ham United scored a 2-0 opening-day Barclays Premier League victory at Arsenal.
The Hammers scored a goal in each half through Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate to stun the Emirates, but they were just two of 14 heroes in Claret and Blue, said to the manager. Talking to West Ham TV after his Barclays Premier League managerial debut ended in success, the manager also discussed his decision to hand 16-year-old Reece Oxford a start in a deep-lying midfield role.

"It is a great win for us, a great start for us and it's great for the Club and for the fans especially because it's Arsenal," Bilic beamed. "It's one of the biggest teams and one of the contenders and it's the first day and we did it in their stadium. I don't know how long it is, five years, ten years, but it's an absolutely amazing result. "In the first half, to be fair I have no problem admitting that we stole the first goal. We deserved the goal, but we didn't deserve to be one up considering what was going on on the pitch. We were lucky. Maybe a draw at half-time would be fair because they were more aggressive and aware for the second ball, which is unacceptable. They can be better, some of their players, but more aggressive and more aware, no. "At half-time I said some good things but I said 'OK, we are winning guys, but if we are going to be like that we have to improve'. The team performance in the second half was magnificent, from the goalkeeper to Modibo who came on for the last few minutes. "As a unit we were brilliant closing them, sometimes very early and sometimes when we let them have the ball with the players who we wanted to have the ball, not the main players. Sometimes we defended by pushing up, we were keeping the ball and we were penetrating, Sakho and Dimitri were putting their centre-halves under pressure and keeping the ball when needed. Everyone was really good." It's one of the biggest teams and one of the contenders and it's the first day and we did it in their stadium. I don't know how long it is, five years, ten years, but it's an absolutely amazing result

Bilic spoke with pride at the nature of West Ham's two goals, one of which came from a Dimitri Payet headed home by Kouyate and the second which saw the Hammers win the ball back deep inside the Arsenal half before Zarate blasted low past Petr Cech from 25 yards.
While he did not get his name on the scoresheet, 16-year-old Reece Oxford also stole the headlines by producing a performance that belied his tender years and will have caught the attention of football fans everywhere. Composed, assured and confident, Oxford won praise from his manager after a simply outstanding Barclays Premier League debut "To talk about Reece now is easy but I don't want to give lessons. We just put Reece in the team because I wanted to combine this game between him and Kevin Nolan. "We needed someone to sit there and be a centre-half and not a centre-half, to take the long balls and be good in the air and sit and wait and be ready for Cazorla, Ozil or Ramsey in that space between the lines. "We also wanted a player who can turn and make good passes and we picked him because he has got it all – he is tall, he is strong, he can run, he is quick, he can head a ball and is good in a duel, he can pass the ball and he can turn.
"The only problem was that he is 16 but then I thought 'Should I react by what will happen if it doesn't work out, or should I try to do everything for it to work' and we stuck to that and it proved us right today! "Of course Reece is still 16 and not 19, but we will try to manage him now and we will keep him away from all the fuss that is going to be created. That is part of our job, but the boy has a future and we have to manage him the right way in every aspect."

Oxford - 'It was a great debut'

Reece Oxford might only be 16 but nobody at the Emirates Stadium would have guessed that from the calm and composed display he gave on his Barclays Premier League debut on Sunday. The Hammers youngster starred as his team ended a run of ten successive defeats to the Gunners in style. Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate scored the goals to seal a 2-0 victory, leaving Oxford delighted at getting the season - and his top flight career - off to the perfect start. He told West Ham TV: "It was a great debut for me and a great day for the team. They just encouraged me and everyone was talking to me - Nobles, Reidy, Angelo, everyone. It was a great experience. "I dont think we've won here for a long time, so it was a great debut! "Everyone was encouraging each other and working for each other. If someone was out of position someone fills in for them. Nobody was taking a break and we just wanted it today."

Kouyate's header two minutes before the interval was quickly backed up by Zarate's strike soon after and Oxford was thrilled with the timing of the goals. He explained: "We were practicing set pieces in training yesterday and it worked. We had a lot of players of six-foot plus and Cheikhou got on the end of that one. "We caught them on the counter attack for the second and Zarate just finished it like he normally does." Oxford could not have wished for a better springboard into the 2015/16 season and now he just wants to continue on his upward path. He added: "It's a massive season for me and the team, and with England with the U17 World Cup. Hopefully I can just carry on the way I'm playing now. "When he told me I was starting I was nervous, to think I would be playing against the likes of Ozil, but I just got my head down and it was good. "I learned a lot from it because Arsenal probably haVe the strongest midfield in the Premier League. Playing against the best will make you the best and Nobes and Cheik helped me a lot in the game."

Lionel Messi would not faze West Ham's Reece Oxford - Slaven Bilic

Lionel Messi would struggle to faze 16-year-old West Ham midfielder Reece Oxford, according to Hammers boss Slaven Bilic. The teenager marked a memorable Premier League debut by helping his side to a shock 2-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday. Oxford's inclusion in the side for the first game of season came as a surprise, but Bilic was confident he had the mental strength to handle it. "If Messi was in front of me, I'd be more fazed than Reece," Bilic said. Against Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, Oxford impressed as he played his part in restricting the Gunners to few clear-cut opportunities. The West Ham youth product finished the game with the best pass percentage in the match, with 95%.
Bilic added on Sky Sports: "People were asking: 'Are you sure he is 16?' "It was going to be a risk but he has got something. I am very proud of him. "Only on paper he is 16. He is a part of this new generation."

Arsenal 0 West Ham 2
9 August 2015
Last updated at 17:39
By Chris Osborne
BBC Sport

Arsenal's season started with defeat as West Ham won their first Premier League game under manager Slaven Bilic. Keeper Petr Cech misjudged Dimitri Payet's free-kick to allow Cheikhou Kouyate to nod in the Hammers' first. After the break, Mauro Zarate finished from 20 yards after being gifted the ball by the Gunners defence. Arsenal had 62% of possession, but put just six of 22 shots on target as Aaron Ramsey's first-half effort against the bar was the closest they came. Gunners fans, who left the Emirates Stadium in large numbers before the final whistle, will feel like they have seen all this before, not just in the way their side performed, but also in the familiarity of their starting line-up. Cech's arrival from Chelsea has been Wenger's only summer signing since last term's third-place finish, and it was an uncharacteristic display from the experienced keeper. The 33-year-old was not only at fault for West Ham's opener, but was wrong-footed by Zarate's strike, although he received little help from his defence as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Francis Coquelin gave the ball away on the edge of their own area. Olivier Giroud frequently looked isolated up front, which will no doubt increase the hope among Arsenal supporters that a reported deal for Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema can be completed.

Bilic fitting the bill?
Bilic, 46, replaced Sam Allardyce this summer and was handed a remit of getting the east London club playing 'the West Ham way' - a brand of football based around an attacking and entertaining approach. But the Hammers showed the battling qualities Bilic was renowned for during his spell as a defender with the club from 1996 to 1997. Reece Oxford, who became his side's youngest-ever Premier League player at the age of 16 years and 237 days, epitomised West Ham's fighting spirit, screening his defence superbly from midfield.

Man of the match - Reece Oxford

Reece Oxford had the game's highest passing accuracy (95%), lost possession just once and made two blocks and three interceptions

Manager reaction

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We were not convincing offensively or defensively. I knew it it could be a tricky game, if you can't win the game, make sure you don't lose it. "The players were maybe too nervous and put too much pressure on themselves. "Today we have been hurt mentally and it is a good opportunity to respond."

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic on Reece Oxford: "People were asking: 'Are you sure he is 16?' "It was going to be a risk but he has got something. I thought we needed someone to sit in front of the defence who is cool and can be a third defender, but who can also play on the ball. I am very proud of him. "Only on paper he is 16. He is a part of this new generation. Put it this way, if Lionel Messi was in front of me, I would be more fazed than Reece. "I know we have a good team and I know we have that in ourselves but I wasn't sure how we were going to show it."

The stats you need to know

West Ham ended a run of nine straight league defeats against Arsenal
They secured a first win at the Emirates since 2007, a game which was Arsenal's first defeat at their new ground
Arsenal have failed to score in four of their last five league games at home
Only Kevin De Bruyne (20) has delivered more assists than Dimitri Payet (18) in the top five European leagues since the start of last season
All three of Mauro Zarate's Premier League goals for West Ham have come away from home
Reece Oxford became the second-youngest player to start a Premier League game, after Jose Baxter (for Everton against West Brom in August 2008)

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham Utd
Filed: Sunday, 9th August 2015
By: Staff Writer

Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate may have struck the goals that secured West Ham's first win at the Emirates since 2007 - but it was a home grown youngster who took all the plaudits after the game. 16-year-old Reece Oxford played for 79 minutes of today's game and was instrumental in helping West Ham secure an impressive 2-0 opening day win with a 95 per cent pass success rate - the highest of any player from either team. And his performance left both team mates and pundits gushing with praise after the game for a performance that belied his years. Oxford slotted into West Ham's well-drilled, four-man midfield with comparative ease as the Hammers frustrated their opponents to record a first clean sheet at the Emirates since the 1-0 win in the 2006/07 'Great Escape'. As expected, Arsenal created a number of chances but Adrian and his defence stood firm to deny their hosts. However for the first time in a while, the Hammers also looked a genuine threat on the counter - and it was from two such breaks that Slaven Bilic's new-look side scored both their goals. Kouyate opened West Ham's account in the closing moments of the first half to the delight of the 3,000 travelling fans who had made the short trip across the capital. Dimitri Payet, who pulled the strings for the Hammers from midfield whipped a free kick towards the penalty spot where Kouyate lunged ahead of Cech to send the ball into an empty net. And victory was confirmed 12 minutes after the restart when Mauro Zarate, only playing due to the injuries to Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia turned smartly after Arsenal had conceded possession cheaply before firing expertly into Petr Cech's bottom right corner. We'll have more reaction to today's impressive win throughout later today...

He's bigger than me - and probably better than me!
Filed: Sunday, 9th August 2015
By: Staff Writer

Winston Reid has paid tribute to his young team mate Reece Oxford on the day the 16-year-old made his Premier League debut.

The Academy youngster started against Arsenal at the Emirates this afternoon and was instrumental in helping West Ham secure an impressive 2-0 opening day win with a 95 per cent pass succcess rate - the highest of any player from either team.

After the game, his team mate Winston Reid - who was named Man of the Match for his performance at the heart of West Ham's defence - paid tribute to Oxford. "He's been brilliant," said Reid. "He's only 16 and look at him, he's bigger than me and probably better than me!

He's a really good player and he's come into the squad as a young guy, but he listens to us and he's got his whole future ahead of him. He's going to be brilliant."

rvine Welsh ✔@IrvineWelsh
At least nobody can say that Ozil is thick. I believe he received an Oxford education. #coyi
5:10 PM - 9 Aug 2015

And with view to Bilic and the impression he has made since being introuced as West Ham's latest manager, he added: "He's changed us and he's got us thinking very positivlely, but most importantly everyone in the dressing room is working really hard.

"So full credit to him.

"The manager provided a fantastic game plan today. We followed it but we always needed a bit of luck on our side. Adrian made some good saves but I thought we really deserved it as we worked really hard."

Matthew Etherington ✔@mattyethers
Reece Oxford produced one of the best PL debuts i have seen for a long long time.. COYI
5:26 PM - 9 Aug 2015

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham: Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate secure shock win
Last Updated: 09/08/15 6:47pm

Goalkeeper Petr Cech endured a nightmare debut as Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at home by West Ham in their Premier League opener. Cheikhou Kouyate put the Hammers ahead late in the first half when he beat Cech to a free-kick and headed into the empty net. Cech, a summer signing from Chelsea, was beaten again in the 57th minute when he was wrong-footed and unable to keep out Mauro Zarate's shot from outside the box. The Gunners hardly threatened a comeback as the visitors, for whom 16-year-old Reece Oxford started in midfield, held out to secure all three points in Slaven Bilic's first top-flight match in charge. The Croatian could hardly have wished for a better performance on the opening day after seeing his side knocked out of the Europa League in Romania on Thursday evening. Bilic sprang a surprise in his starting line-up at the Emirates by handing Oxford his league debut, making him the seventh-youngest player to feature in the Premier League. Olivier Giroud was given the nod in attack for Arsenal ahead of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez made the bench even though he was not expected to feature. Arsenal, who won the FA Community Shield at Wembley last weekend with victory over Chelsea, made a bright start with the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain volleying the ball over the crossbar from 20 yards. West Ham offered some attacking threat of their own, with Zarate and Diafra Sakho at the top of the diamond fed by the impressive Frenchman Dimitri Payet. The closest either side came to an opener was in the 31st minute when Aaron Ramsey's 20-yard half-volley deflected off the back of defender Aaron Creswell and looped onto the crossbar. But the visitors took the lead late in the half when Payet whipped a free-kick into the right side of the Arsenal penalty area and as Cech rushed off his line in an attempt to punch clear, he was beaten to the ball by Kouyate, who headed into the unguarded net. The Gunners laboured through the opening stages of the second half before Giroud fired into the side netting after being played down the left of the penalty area by Mesut Ozil. But it was West Ham who struck next after 57 minutes as Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to clear his lines properly and Zarate picked up the loose ball, turned and fired a shot into the bottom corner past a wrong-footed Cech. Wenger responded by bringing on Walcott and then Sanchez but the Gunners continued to struggle to create chances. Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed the ball into the side netting and Sanchez forced a save from Adrian in injury-time. The hosts were unable to force their way back into the match, though, as West Ham closed out a first victory over the Gunners since April 2007.

Player ratings

Arsenal: Cech (5), Debuchy (5), Mertesacker (6), Koscielny (5), Monreal (5), Coquelin (5), Ramsey (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Ozil (5), Cazorla (6), Giroud (6).

Subs: Walcott (5), Sanchez (6).

West Ham: Adrian (7), Tomkins (6), Reid (7), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (6), Oxford (7), Noble (6), Kouyate (7), Payet (7), Zarate (7), Sakho (7).

Subs: Nolan (5), Jarvis (5), Maiga (5).

Man of the Match: Winston Reid (West Ham)

Slaven Bilic proud after West Ham beat Arsenal on opening day
Last Updated: 09/08/15 5:54pm

Slaven Bilic declared himself a "proud" man after West Ham started their Premier League season with a 2-0 win at Arsenal. The Hammers ended a barren run against the Gunners with goals either side of half-time from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate. It is the first time the Hammers have beaten their London rivals since 2007 and Bilic was delighted with the display, particularly in the second half. "It's a great start for us," he told Sky Sports. "Not only because we got three points but we did so against a team who are one of the main contenders for the title and did really well in pre-season. "It's a London derby too and in the last five years we have lost every game against them home and away, which makes it even bigger. It would be big anyway but this makes it a bit special. "I know we have a good team, but I wasn't sure we were going to show that in the way we did, especially in the second half.

In his first league match in charge, Bilic sprang a surprise by naming 16-year-old Reece Oxford in his starting line-up. The Hammers academy product was the seventh-youngest player to appear in the Premier League but produced an accomplished performance at the Emirates.
"It was a risk and it will be a risk because he is 16, but he has got something," said Bilic. "I played him because I thought for this kind of game I needed someone to sit in front of the back four, to be like a third centre-back, to be cool and who is good on the ball. I am very proud of him. "He is 16 in his head and on paper but he is a part of this new generation. We all try to help him, I spoke to him, the players and staff did, I told him before (we played) Astra that whatever he does wrong is my fault - I am lucky he rarely does something wrong."

While the win is the ideal start for the Hammers, Bilic acknowledges they can still improve next weekend at home to Leicester City.
"It's just a great start, it's not finished," he said. "It would be very catastrophic if we think we can do it like big charlies, we have to work hard and play better than today. "If next game we show something we showed in the first half we have no chance, but we have to work hard, that's our job. If we do that, with a bit of luck and if we can stay away from injuries, I am optimistic."

West Ham midfield Reece Oxford can be a star, says Niall Quinn
Last Updated: 09/08/15 7:01pm

Niall Quinn declared that a star had been born after the performance of West Ham youngster Reece Oxford in the Hammers' 2-0 win at Arsenal. The 16-year-old started at the base of midfield for his league debut, becoming the seventh youngest player ever to appear in the Premier League, and shone for Slaven Bilic's side. Sky Sports co-commentator Quinn was thoroughly impressed by the Hammers and, in particular, Oxford. A star is born and Cech stutters on debut, talking points from Arsenal's defeat to West Ham... "They were excellent and the young lad, young Reece Oxford in the middle of the field – well that's dream stuff, to say a star is born it's absolutely true," he said. "The kid's not only broken some phenomenal records and played the game, he was outstanding. "I kept a real close eye on him, sometimes off the ball he'd turn around and give out instructions, pointing fingers, letting things develop. "He had a maturity today which was so hard to understand because you think he's going to be lost out there and that all the others players are going to have to rally round him and it was the exact opposite."Oxford did not appear out of place either physically or technically and his stature really caught the eye of Quinn, who predicted the midfielder will be around in the Premier League for many years to come. "He's got a great build, his physique is good and his mobility is very good, he handled the ball really well, he knew when to drop back and make a fifth defender," Quinn added. "He was a perfect player for his manager today and to do that at 16 years of age is just incredible. I'm really pleased for the lad and I'm sure all his mentors all the way up, and his family as well, they're pinching themselves as well.
"They can be very proud of him and we'll be hearing about him for a long time to come."

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham: Talking points from the Emirates
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 09/08/15 5:34pm

West Ham shocked London rivals Arsenal at the Emirates 2-0 on Sunday – and delivered an early blow to the Gunners' Premier League title ambitions. Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate were on the scoresheet for Slaven Bilic's side, while youngster Reece Oxford and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech experienced very different debuts.
Here we pick out the talking points from the match…

Reece Oxford

At 16 years and 236 days, Reece Oxford became West Ham's youngest-ever Premier League player on Sunday. However, his performance belied his years. "He's been phenomenal. A star is born," Sky Sports co-commentator Niall Quinn said. "He's been mature, he's ordering people around. It's unbelievable to see. He's mobile, he gets around and he knows the game. He's a natural." Sitting in front of the West Ham defence, much of Oxford's best work was done without the ball at his feet. Only Diafra Sakho had touched the ball fewer times than Oxford (33) when he was substituted on 79 minutes - but no West Ham player had made more tackles (three) or interceptions (three) than the England U17 captain. Oxford was economical with the ball, too. He regained possession four times and lost it just once, while all but one of his 21 passes found their target – the best pass completion rate of any player on the pitch. "It was a dream debut," Oxford told Sky Sports. "It's an honour to play for West Ham and to be the youngest."

Cech's mistakes

"It's a day to forget for Petr Cech." That was the assessment of Quinn after watching Arsenal's £10m summer signing make errors for both West Ham goals. Prior to kick-off, Cech had the best saves-to-shots ratio of any goalkeeper to have made at least 50 saves in the Premier League over the past three seasons (78 per cent). However, the former Chelsea shot-stopper looked anything but the assured presence between the sticks Arsenal fans had hoped for when he wildly rushed out to try to punch Dimitri Payet's free-kick midway through the first half. Cech was nowhere near goal-scorer Kouyate when he glanced the ball home. "Cech comes flying out and he's got to do better," said Jamie Carragher in the Sky Sports studio. "If you come out like that you have to take everything."

Things got worse for Cech after the break when he was wrong-footed by Mauro Zarate's speculative shot from the edge of the box. Chelsea captain John Terry said Cech could be worth 12-15 points to Arsenal this season. It could be suggested the goalkeeper is currently standing on at least -1 at the moment.

New season, same problems for Arsenal?

This is supposed to be Arsenal's season, the year the back-to-back FA Cup winners deliver the consistency and quality needed to win the Premier League. However, against West Ham, there must surely have been an all-too-familiar feel of frustration and disappointment among Arsenal fans. Once again, Arsenal were exposed from a set-piece. West Ham scored 15 headed goals in 2014/15, second only to West Brom (16), while Arsenal conceded the highest proportion of goals to headers (36 per cent). New season, same story. This time it was Kouyate who profited from Arsenal's poor aerial defence. "Nacho Monreal was the wrong side of Kouyate – and as a defender you'd never want to be in that position," Carragher said, while Graeme Souness was critical of Arsenal's defensive line being too high. "The players were talking about doing different things this season," added Carragher, "but isn't that [defending] a recurring theme for the Arsenal players?"
Just two wins in Arsenal's first eight games last season proved costly come the end of the campaign, and Arsene Wenger's side could be in danger of once again damaging their title challenge before it gets going. A tough trip to Crystal Palace – fresh from a 3-1 win at Norwich – followed by a Monday Night Football encounter with Liverpool are next up for Arsenal. Wenger will be hoping his team click into gear for those encounters, or they'll once again be facing an uphill battle. Only one club has lost their first game of a Premier League season and gone on to win the title, though: Manchester United in 1992/93, 1995/96 and 2012/13.

Bilic's boys deliver

"I don't know where this season is going to bring us," Slaven Bilic told Sky Sports ahead of kick-off. "We are going to try to play good football, try to be solid as a unit." It's safe to say the West Ham boss' team delivered on both counts at Arsenal on Sunday. "West Ham had a gameplan and they were fabulous today," said Souness. "If they can play like that every time they go away from home they'll win lots of games. If those boys play with the same determination and enthusiasm, they'll cause lots of people problems. They were very, very impressive today." Carragher was equally impressed. "They had things you don't associate with West Ham in away games," he said. "They were solid at the back, didn't look like conceding and had power and pace on the counter-attack, which is vital."

By David Hautzig 9 Aug 2015 at 17:15
West Ham Till I Die

I'm sure a political metaphor is not what you were expecting to start the new season. Campaign probably a better word, I guess. And I'm expecting a bit of stick.

Fine. I can deal with that.

George W. Bush wasn't a popular figure in my neck of the woods. He didn't have too many fans in the UK, either. I recall the headline in The Mirror when he was re-elected. "How can 59 million people be so dumb". Harsh, but I saw similar sentiment four years later when W was done. Someone I know said, "I didn't realize how depressed I've been the past 8 years". Managing a football club is obviously a far less serious manner than running my country. But as I awaited the kickoff today at The Emirates, I came in with a feeling of hope and curiosity. As opposed to simple resignation to not only the outcome but also the events that would lead to it. That was exemplified an hour before kickoff when the rumours that Reece Oxford would start became a fact. Add Zarate to the mix and at least we could fantasize about our beloved club for a bit. I didn't expect to win. I halfway expected a thrashing.

What a thrilling shock to our system.

The first touch of a professional career normally isn't something we pay attention to. But seconds into the match, Reece Oxford…who is younger than half of my t-shirts…comfortable chested the ball down to Reid. Moments later, Tomkins made a run down the left, fed Kouyate, who then tried to cross to Sakho but it went out for a corner. If we had scored, we might have credited the kid with an assist just because.

Mark Noble is often criticized for picking up silly fouls in dangerous areas after losing the ball. In the 5th minute, Noble became the first of many players on both sides to go slip slidin' away on the Emirates pitch and then, trying to regain possession, fouled Coquelin and was shown a yellow card. Minutes later, newcomer Ogbonna made a similar challenge on Oxlade-Chamberlain just outside the West Ham penalty area and was also booked. Two minutes. Two yellows. The resulting free kick went out for a corner, which then came to Debuchy but his header went over the bar.

The first real chance for either side came in the 11th minute when Reid attempted to clear a cross from the left. It went straight to Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his 25 yard volley went over the bar.

The change in leadership to Slaven Bilic is exemplified by the signing of Dimitri Payet. There was no way on God's Green Earth a creative midfielder of Payet's quality would have signed for our previous manager. In the 19th minute, Payet showed why he might be the most important signing of the Gold & Sullivan era. The ball was played down the left for Payet to run onto. It was a bit long, but Payet not only saved it from going out for a goal kick but also used a cheeky little header to set himself for a cross to Sakho. The pass missed its target, but the message was clear. Payet can, and will, hurt the opposition when they think they are in the clear.

Mauro Zarate creates two, and only two, reactions from West Ham supporters. Frustration and Euphoria. In the 26th minute, Frustrating Zarate lost the ball to Coquelin, who quickly delivered a cross into the box for Giroud. The Frenchman controlled the ball with his chest, but his shot was blocked by Ogbonna. Two minutes later Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up the ball in his own half and started a steamrolling run into the West Ham area. He eventually found Cazorla with a cross, but his shot went over the bar. Moments later, the ball dropped kindly for Ramsey but his shot deflected off Cresswell and out for a corner.

West Ham went on the front foot in the 36th minute when Payet embarked on a great run, beat two Arsenal defenders before his shot was deflected out for a corner. From a strategic standpoint, the corner was interesting in that it was played back for Zarate to run onto and shoot. From a result standpoint, it was Frustrating Zarate again as his shot went wide. West Ham endured more frustration minutes later when Tomkins was shown the Hammers third yellow for bringing down Monreal.

Have I mentioned that Payet is a great signing? I did? Good. Because he is.

In the 43rd minute, West Ham won a free kick when Noble was brought down in midfield. Up stepped Payet to send a perfect ball into the charging line, and Kouyate guided it past the diving Cech and into the back of the net. Yes, Cech made an error. And maybe if this had been against Chelsea with Cech and his back line being more familiar with each other, the result may have been different. But to take anything away from either the delivery or the finish would be juvenile.

Or Sky Sports. Same thing.

Halftime. Arsenal 0, West Ham 1.

I, for one, would not like to be the one that causes Diafra Sakho consternation. His eyes get this look that sharks get before they strike. Frustrating Zarate could have been on the end of such an attack in the 51st minute when he charged at the Arsenal defense at the top of the box. With Sakho screaming for the ball on the right, Frustrating Zarate tried to do it all by himself, and ended up doing nothing but lose the ball. Sakho punched the air in fury, and Twitter went bananas attacking Zarate's selfishness.

The next few minutes were The Olivier Giroud Show. In the 52nd minute, Giroud sent a cross into the box that Adrian mishandled. But there wasn't a Gunner in sight and our cult hero in neon green gathered the ball. Moments later Giroud met an Ozil cross but sent his shot into the side netting. Then, with tons of time and space, Giroud rushed a shot that took a slight deflection off Ogbanna and into the arms of Adrian.

In the 57th minute Zarate was substituted for Zarate. That is, Frustrating Zarate left the and Euphoric Zarate took his place. After taking the ball off of Oxlade-Chamberlain near the top of the box, he made a slight touch and fired. Cech expected the ball to his left, but instead Euphoric Zarate sent the ball low and into near corner.

Arsenal 0, West Ham 2.

When Jarvis came on for Zarate in the 62nd minute, I was surprised. It didn't help that a minute later a silly challenge from Jarvis gave Arsenal a free kick from a dangerous area. Cazorla's free kick did find Giroud, but his header had no pace and was right at Adrian.

In the 67th minute, West Ham supporters worldwide groaned to see Alexis Sanchez come on for Debuchy. The script was being set up for West Ham pain. And for a few minutes, Arsenal applied the kind of pressure that usually ends in a goal when playing us. Walcott, a longtime West Ham nemesis, made a run down the right to win a corner. But instead of West Ham making a mistake or committing a foul, it was Sanchez whistled for holding Tomkins. Arsenal came again, only for Reid to clear.

The 74th minute was genuinely frightening for a moment when Giroud and Tomkins clashed heads. It looked like Giroud was knocked cold, especially when he was rolled on his side, presumably to save him from swallowing his tongue. Yet despite what we've all read about concussion protocol, both were back on the pitch in a few minutes.

The final ten minutes plus stoppage time were going to be nervy enough. Seeing Kevin Nolan come on didn't help matters. But moments after coming on, Nolan started a counter attack that had ball movement and interplay to make any supporter in the world proud. It ended with Sakho tackled in the box and a save by Cech. Arsenal came right back down with the ball eventually coming to Oxlade-Chamberlain. However his shot hit the side netting.

Instead of just lofting the ball as far as possible in the final minutes of a game, West Ham played football. Payet led a counter and got the ball near the corner flag. Then Sakho ran the length of the pitch, gathered the ball by the same corner flag, and sent Noble running freely along the touchline. Arsenal had a few chances in injury time, but none that caused any of us to have palpitations.

Final Score. Arsenal 0, West Ham 2.

As I have done every year since the web made it easy, I spent some free time on the days leading up to every season reading previews and predictions. Along with two prognosticators sending us down, many others said "they were worried for West Ham". Richard Keys and Andy Gray on their new network BeIN Sports (who have also employed Big Sam), Robbie's Mustoe and Earle over here on NBC. Considering that I wrote down Arsenal when asked who will win the league, I wasn't expecting much. But I thought, or maybe just hoped, that the team under Bilic would at least give me a reason to pay attention for all 90 minutes.

Instead, I got the most refreshing and enjoyable West Ham experience in many years.

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"He's got everything" - Slaven Bilic hails West Ham teenager Reece Oxford after fine display at Arsenal
0 COMMENTS18:32, 9 AUGUST 2015
"He is still a risk, still 16. He's definitely going to be a big player," said Bilic as his side enjoyed an excellent 2-0 win at the Emirateas
The Mirror

Slaven Bilic masterminded a famous West Ham victory - and then paid a glowing tribute to teenage whizz kid Reece Oxford. Hammers manager Bilic showed remarkable faith in playing 16-year-old centre half Oxford in midfield to try to shut down Arsenal. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had the chance to sign Oxford last season before the England under-17 international committed himself to a new contract at West Ham in January. Bilic's tactical gamble worked a treat and TV pundit Graeme Souness hailed Oxford's performance by saying: "For a 16-year-old it borders on the ridiculous." Bilic said: "The boy has got everything. Everything. Let's be fair. Ozil had his moments or Cazorla or Ramsey are world class players. It's not easy to minimise their game because they're world class players. "He's 16 and that is his only disadvantage. We are a little short in that position and I wanted someone to sit in front of the centre half. He has a presence, he's mobile and quick and he can turn and pass the ball, not just square balls. We have others around making it a lot easier for him.
"He's also a very cool guy. Not fazed or impressed. I tried to help him. We've been preparing him for this for the last two weeks. But the biggest help apart from his ability coolness and quality physical, and technical were the boys around him. "He is still a risk, still 16. He's definitely going to be a big player. As he's 16 he's going to have ups and downs. We have to manage him now not only on the pitch but off it too."

Bilic could not have wished for his first game in the Premier League to have gone any better and believes it has set a great tone for his reign. "It's a great result for us and a great performance," said Bilic. "You know what it's like when you come here for the first game of the season. The players can say a lot but it's the proof we're doing alright and the players believe. "And if you have a London derby against a team that is one of the biggest title contenders, a team that we lost last nine games home or away. For 10 years we didn't win here. "It sums up a proud moment for the whole club and especially for the fans. We're happy but it's only a start. It gives us a wonderful direction."

Slav turns eight Sam flops into superstars
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers

Miracles do happen if you have the right man in charge. And one thing that seems to have passed many by is that this afternoon at the Emirates is that eight of the team which performed so badly at the end of last season were again involved in what was nothing short of a stupendous victory. Only Angel Ogbonna, Dimitri Payet and 16 year old Reece Oxford had not seen action in a West Ham shirt before today – the rest were Sam Allardyce players who could only manage three wins from the final 21 games last season. Yet today – against an Arsenal team costing millions and millions, these same players, who by and large had been told to get it forward quickly – which is a polite way of saying 'lump it' – produced a style of football which gains nationwide approval. There's been a lot of negative stuff doing the rounds on social media this summer – myths perpetrated by people who should know better I've honestly never paid much attention to pre-season and today showed again how daft it is to judge a season on what happens before it begins. It also showed that those moaning about the squad being weak – can under the right manager, playing the right way, – take on a new dimension. That's what happened at the Emirates today and let's remember that the new boss has had just two months with a squad that was split between Ireland and the mainland for a long while. If such a transformation can take place in such a short space of time what will happen when the team really "get it."
Happy days really are here again – the West Ham Way is back. We have proper Boleyn boys in charge of our great club and with one or two additions we can become a formidable club under Slaven Bilic.

Sullivan: "The manager was proved right"
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers

David Sullivan is never going to be a man to get carried away but his Emirates joy was clear for all to see as the Hammers scored their magical win over Arsenal this afternoon.

Manager Slaven Bilic master-minded the amazing win as the bookies' 10/1 outsiders equalled Arsene Wenger's team all over the pitch before crushing them with a well deserved win.

And after the events of last Thursday evening when the new boss had made the critical decision to play a shadow squad in Romania, the pressure was really on.

However, it all paid off in diamonds and the co chairman in an exclusive comment to ClaretandHugh was extremely happy with what he had seen,

He told us: Its early days, but it's a really fantastic win and I think it proves that the manager was fully justified in his team selection on Thursday."

Hammers speak on Berbatov
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers

West Ham will not be making a move for Dimitar Berbatov. Morning newspaper reports suggested that the former Manchester United and Spurs striker was being offered to the Hammers by agents. The 34 year was seen as a short term cover player given the injuries suffered by West Ham strikers but the club made it clear to ClaretandHugh "we won't be moving in that direction." A top level source told us: "He as discussed earlier in the summer and we took opinions on board but he doesn't fit our age or fitness profile."

Slav so proud of the team and Reece Oxford
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers

Proud Slaven Bilic gave a piercing insight into his personality as he spoke about Reece Oxford following the game.

He explained: "I told him that any mistakes he made were my fault! We advise him all we can – the players, coaches, me, everybody. He's a cool guy and hides his feelings.

"He did brilliantly and I am very proud of him. I thought for this kind of game he was an ideal player to sit in front of the back four and he did the job very well.

"He tries to hide his feelings but we are all there for him and he did a great job for us today – he too hould be very proud."

Discussing the way forward he added: "It was just a start. Yes we beat a team that is fancied for honours but it's about how you finish, not how you start.

"It was a big London derby and important in its own right for that reason and our record against them is bad so it's a special win and I feel very proud."

He explained that he hadn't been happy with the first half performance adding: "We didn't deserve to be in the lead. They had chances and dominated but the second half was different.

"We had a good shape and got the second goal. That was excellent. But we can't play again as we did in the first half. We were slow and not really on it.

" I knew we had that sort of performance in us and we can go on from that. If we can get some luck staying away fro injuries we will be fine. I'm optimistic."

Leroy turns the air Claret and BLUE!!!
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers

I have know Leroy Rosenior for many years but I have never heard him so excited, thrilled and using the f word so regularly as a few minutes ago.

Within seconds of the final whistle blowing the ClaretandHugh analyst was on the phone shouting: "That was f…..g incredible …what an effing performance…every man was given a job to do and did it to effing perfection.

"Thrilled…you bet I'm effing thrilled. The boys were magnificent and to get that performance from them so soon after arriving is a tribute to Slaven Bilic . He has transformed the team already.

God knows where we are gonna end up because if that was the start can you imagine where we are going.

"Reece Oxford was incredible and telling the captain to get in behind him as he moved forward. At 16, at bloody 16 – the kid's gonna be a monster player.

Payet is brilliant, and Winston Reid was superb but to be honest all the credit goes to Slaven Bilic – to get a performance like that from the Irons after last week was miraculous.

Trust me the man is going to go down as one of the great Hammers manager.

"Amazing – I can't wait to see them again. Fabulous."

Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on August 9, 2015 in News, Whispers
Arsenal 0 West Ham 2

Nearly lost for words …but not quite

After listening to all the negativity over the past week I am thrilled that Super Slav has shut everybody up with a performance from his team as good as any of us can remember for a very long time.

And it was summed up afterwards by Winston Reid who handed the credit to the manager declaring: "He set out a brilliant game plan and we followed it.

"We had some luck and Adrian made some great saves. We did well but I believe we can get a lot better."

Young Reece Oxford produced a performance well in advance of his 16 years and said; "Angelo (Ogbonna) was encouraging me from behind through the game.

"I found out yesterday evening I was in the team . It's such an honour to be the youngest to play for the club in the Premier League."

The Hammers were utterly MAGNIFICENT all over the pitch, doing exactly what Slav had demanded before the game – defending as a unit and moving forward together. Dimi Payet was outstanding.

He produced the first goal for Cheik Kouyate from a free kick and was always looking to create. Winston Reid was cool and calm giving a masterly defensive performance and in Angelo Ogbonna has a partner to die for.

But it would be wrong to single anyone out really. This was incredible and as Reid says:"It can only get better."


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