Fresh off a convincing win over Chelsea in the Community Shield, Arsenal kick off the 2015/16 season at the Emirates this weekend against West Ham. One of my favorite things to do over the course of a season is the Q&A with bloggers from the opposing team, and we're getting right back into that tradition this season.
To help shed some light on West Ham, I talked with team blogger Robert Lintott. He graciously agreed to answer the questions that Short Fuse staff had about this weekend's opponent, so without further ado, here are my questions for Robert and his answers!
TSF: Last year, your team struggled a bit, and it's fair to say they underwhelmed in the league. To what do you attribute those struggles, and do you think things will be different this season?
RL: I think a lot of the problem was poor management. Once that changed in February, things started to pick up a lot. We started scoring goals, we started playing entertaining football. It was a far cry from the team you had come to expect.
TSF: The aforementioned struggles last year seemed to necessitate some radical changes, to avoid another relegation battle. Have they done enough, in your opinion?
RL: Oh definitely. There are new players, new styles, and even renewed hope amongst the fans. I'd say this is a club who are poised to reach for the stars and land gloriously midtable.
TSF: Last year, West Ham's fate wasn't settled until the last day of the season. How did the fanbase deal with not knowing at what level this season would be played at until so late?
RL: Ha, you mean Aston Villa right? I once, early in my fandom, confused West Brom for West Ham. Funny, huh? Anyhow, the fanbase handled it just as you'd expect fans of the claret and blue to handle it: poorly. There was hand wringing. Teeth gnashing. And so many calls for heads that you'd think we were all Herod Antipas in Salome.
TSF: As a result of the slow start, West Ham changed managers midseason. How much of the team's eventual survival was down to the new manager, and how much was down to player improvement?
RL: West Ham didn't change their manager midseason. Again, you're thinking about Aston Villa. We're from Birmingham. West Ham are from the Northwest of England.
TSF: Back to this summer. West Ham did some shopping, picking up three guys named Jordan (Ayou, Amavi, and Veretout), as well as Scott Sinclair and Micah Richards. With such an influx of new players, do you think West Ham will struggle to get everyone on the same page early?
RL: Wait. Why are you asking me about West Ham? You play them on Saturday right? So this is definitely an opposition Q&A. You know that Aston Villa are not West Ham, right? West Ham are not even in the Premier League any more.
TSF: West Ham struggled to score last season, with joint top scorers Ciaran Clark and Fabian Delph scoring eight goals each. Does Delph's departure mean West Ham will struggle even more this season?
RL: Listen, just because we wear the same colors it does not mean that we are West Ham. West Ham got relegated last season! They play just north of Wales and are called "The Clarets." Why do The Short Fuse let you write for them?
TSF: Final question. Do you think this season West Ham will improve on their 17th place finish from last season?
RL: ASTON VILLA FINISHED 17TH. WEST HAM FINISHED 19TH. THIS IS NOT DIFFICULT. IN FACT, WHY ARE ARSENAL PLAYING A TEAM IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
Look. I'll try to explain this calmly. West Ham, like Aston Villa, wear claret and blue. I think that's why you're confused. But you see, West Ham play in the city of Burnley. Aston Villa PLAY. IN. BIRMINGHAM. Now, I know the colors are the same, but THE TEAMS. ARE NOT. THE SAME. I cannot tell you ANYTHING about West Ham because nobody cares about a team from Burnley. Find someone else to answer your damn questions!