The draw at Anfield leaves Arsenal with eight matches (and 24 points) remaining in the Premier League season. 20 points clear of 5th place Tottenham, the Gunners are potentially just one weekend away from officially clinching St. Totteringham’s Day and a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League. A tremendous step for the club, but not the focus at this point. Those benchmarks have long been expected and instead, it comes into a straight race and showdown against Manchester City for the title. While City may have the easier schedule and a plethora of expensive players on their bench, Arsenal has proven many times this season ready to rise to the occasion and push aside past struggles.
David Moyes continues to find a way to survive. Every time it seems like the club the one loss away from ending his (second) tenure in charge, the Hammers pull out a win. Defeats by Manchester United and Brighton were soon followed by advancing in the Europa League and beating Southampton. The 5-1 loss to Newcastle was followed by this past weekend’s win over Fulham. Now sitting 14th in the Premier League, just three points above the relegation zone, West Ham have a Europa League Quarterfinal pair of matches surrounding Arsenal’s visit to the London Stadium this weekend.
With so much going on with West Ham, we talked with Brawley Darbon from The West Ham Way to discuss their relegation risk, struggles in front of net, David Moyes’ future, the summer transfer window, and this Sunday’s match.
TSF: West Ham has been in the Premier League for ten straight seasons now, finishing between sixth and 13th in all but one of those. Thinking back to the start of the season, was there any concern or signs that the club might be in this level of trouble?
The West Ham Way: I definitely didn’t see this drop in the table coming at the beginning of the season. We were one of the biggest spenders in the world and I believed we had truly brought in quality players!
TSF: One of the biggest issues seems to be scoring goals. In each of the last two seasons West Ham scored at least 60 league goals. They currently have 27 goals from 29 matches. West Ham has only scored less than 40 league goals once in the last 25 years. Is the dip down to out-of-form forwards, a lack of quality chances, or something else?
The West Ham Way: I think the lack of goals comes from the tactics being deployed by the manager. We could put Haaland up front and he wouldn’t score for West Ham under the current management. We just don’t play to players' strengths, something that has baffled me this year.
TSF: David Moyes has been in charge of the club since December 2019. And at the helm another six months back in the 2017-18 campaign. Can/will the club look past this poor season if West Ham avoids relegation considering he delivered finishes of 6th and 7th over the past two years? Or regardless of the outcome, do you expect a new manager at the start of next season?
The West Ham Way: I expect a new manager to be employed come next season regardless of the outcome. Even in the best-case scenario, we finish 12th-13th and win the Europa Conference League, I’d expect someone new at the helm next season.
TSF: West Ham has the second-oldest average squad in the Premier League at 27.9. Between that and a number of player’s contracts either expiring in June or having just one season remaining, do you expect the club to cash in on Declan Rice and being a larger rebuild this summer?
The West Ham Way: I 100% expect Declan to be sold this summer. It’s really unfortunate, but I think it’s time to cash in and use that money to try to rebuild the squad.
TSF: Can you give us your predicted starting XI for this weekend’s match as well as a final scoreline?
The West Ham Way: As for the lineup, I think we will go something like this:
Fabianski; Coufal, Aguerd, Zouma, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma; Ings
As for the prediction, I’ll go 2-0 to Arsenal.
Thanks to Brawley and The West Ham Way podcast for talking with us.