WHO Poll
Q: 2020/2021 Where will we finish up this season?
a. Top Four, Champions League here we come
b. 5th-7th Europa League is well within our grasp
c. 8th to 14th anywhere in mid table is about right
d. We're in a dog fight before a ball has been kicked and we'll do well to finish 17th or just above
e. GSB have derailed our season before a ball has been kicked, the Championship beckons

Alan 12:29 Sun Feb 21
Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)

Mauricio Pochettino wants to reunite with Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane, 27, at Paris St-Germain if France forward Kylian Mbappe, 22, or Brazil playmaker Neymar, 29, leave the French side this summer. (Sunday Mirror)

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers is a leading contender to replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham manager - after nearly landing the job nine years ago. (Football Insider)

Manchester United will make Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, 25, their top transfer target in the summer after failing with a move for the England international last year. (Todofichajes, via Daily Star on Sunday)

Borussia Dortmund's Norway striker Erling Braut Haaland, 20, will demand a five-year package worth £78m to move clubs this summer. (Sunday Mirror)

Barcelona have compiled a shortlist for a new striker, including Haaland and Manchester City's Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, 32. (Mundo Deportivo)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has suggested the club could try to keep 22-year-old Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard beyond the end of his loan deal from Real Madrid, which runs out at the end of the season. (Times - subscription required)

Leicester are weighing up a summer move for the country's top goalscorer Ivan Toney, Brentford's 24-year-old English forward. (Sunday Mirror)

Arsenal have made Club Bruges' Ivorian midfielder Odilon Kossounou, 20, one of their top targets for the summer. (Sunday Mirror)

Wolves are also considering a move for £20m-rated Kossounou. (Sun)

Tottenham are expected to be in contention to sign RB Leipzig's Austria midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, 26, this summer. (Team Talk)

Brighton's English centre-back Ben White, 23, remains on Liverpool's radar for the summer window. (Football Insider)

Manchester United are monitoring Everton's English defender Jarrad Branthwaite, 18, currently on loan at Blackburn. (Mail on Sunday)

Manchester United have not contacted the agent of Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos, 34, who is available on a free transfer this summer. (Fabrizio Romano, via Caught Offside)

Dutchman Louis van Gaal says Manchester United failed to sign England defender John Stones from Everton while he was in charge of the Old Trafford club, with the 26-year-old choosing to go to Manchester City in 2016 instead. (Daily Star on Sunday)

Newcastle United's English midfielder Kyle Scott, 23, is in advanced talks to join FC Cincinnati on a permanent deal. (Football Insider)

Celtic will offer Airdrie winger Thomas Robert, 20, the chance to train with them, but Aberdeen are also interested in the French winger. (Record)

Germany international Max Kruse, 32, now with Union Berlin, has revealed he was close to agreeing a move to Liverpool in the summer of 2019 before Divock Origi's form in the Champions League saw Jurgen Klopp change his mind about the transfer. (Der Kickbase podcast, via Mail Online)

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has urged the football authorities to do more to find out if heading the ball has any effects in later life. (Argus)


Strikerless West Ham find new approach thanks to Lingard gamble

The sale of Sébastien Haller left West Ham with one injury-plagued striker – Jesse Lingard, though, has offered a solution

Jacob Steinberg

The deadline was approaching but West Ham were not in a rush. Although there was a clamour for them to sign a new striker after Sébastien Haller joined Ajax for £20m at the start of January, the right option never appeared. Bids for Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri and Montpellier’s Gaëtan Laborde were rejected, interest in Reims’s Boulaye Dia fizzled out and although David Moyes targeted Joshua King last summer, West Ham were content to stand aside when Everton hijacked Fulham’s move for the Norway forward.

It seemed that West Ham were showing a familiar flaw: failing to build from a position of strength. Allowing Haller to leave was undeniably a risk given Michail Antonio, only established striker left in the squad, is susceptible to hamstring injuries. It left Moyes without depth up front, threatening to derail an unlikely push for Champions League qualification.

Resentment towards the club’s board resurfaced. There were grumbles when Antonio toiled in the recent draw with Fulham, his weariness betraying him when he pulled up during the second half. It was a predictable turn of events. Three days later, West Ham lost 1-0 after lining up without a striker against Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup, with Andriy Yarmolenko struggling as a false nine before going off injured.

It exposed the reliance on Antonio. Mipo Odubeko, an 18-year-old striker, is raw. As January wore on, though, it became clear West Ham were prepared to hold back. Finding value in a depressed market was not easy. With Moyes in charge, recruitment is less scattergun. Previous attempts to cover holes in attack during winter windows make for grim reading, while even Haller was essentially a panic buy at £45m, swept in at short notice after Marko Arnautovic left in July 2019.

In that context it was worth pausing for a moment. Was it wise to spend for the sake of PR? Did giving the 29-year-old King a big contract represent good business when West Ham have so often caused long-term problems with short-term fixes?

Time will tell if West Ham, who are also without Angelo Ogbonna in defence, made the right call. Although there is no alternative to Antonio, who is a doubt to face Tottenham on Sunday, there is still cause for optimism. Moyes has been defying the odds all season and he did attend to other parts of his attack last month, signing Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United.

The challenge is finding ways to adjust and although Lingard is not a striker, his nimble movement in an advanced role helped West Ham overcome Antonio’s absence during their 3-0 win over Sheffield United last Monday.

This is where Moyes often shines, hunting for bargains who can lift his team’s level. Lingard arrived hungry after a tough period, having missed a significant chunk of the season due to having to self-isolate “a few times” after coming into contact with a number of people who had Covid‑19. The 28-year-old has shown no signs of rust. He marked his debut with two clinical goals in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa and his dynamism troubled Sheffield United, who could not handle Lingard’s interplay with Jarrod Bowen.

West Ham are benefiting from a player with a point to prove. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes pushed him down the pecking order at Old Trafford last season, when he finished a disappointing campaign with one league goal, and he was often singled out for criticism when United struggled.

It is partly down to image. Lingard’s occasional exuberance on social media has led to criticism, even blurring his contribution on the pitch. But this is a player who has scored in two cup finals and who has helped England reach a World Cup semi-final. Moyes would not have signed a troublemaker and Lingard has quickly made a positive impression, hitting it off with his new teammates.

There has been only one slip-up: trying to take the ball off Declan Rice after winning West Ham’s first penalty of the season. But it was soon forgotten. It was better to focus on how Lingard earned the penalty, fastening on to a stray ball near halfway and exchanging passes with Bowen before being chopped down when through on goal.

Lingard oozed class, playing with speed, skill and energy. The numbers backed it up, showing he put four of his five shots on target, had 61 touches and made 36 passes. West Ham had another way of playing. Tomas Soucek offers goals from midfield, while Pablo Fornals, Saïd Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini bring creativity. But it was Lingard who made the strikerless system work, giving West Ham flexibility without Antonio as a focal point.

It is obvious why United did not agree to an option to buy in the £1.5m loan deal. Yet the short-term arrangement is working for West Ham. If anyone can make their gamble pay off, it is Lingard.


West Ham injury update

Arthur Masuaku, Angelo Ogbonna and Andriy Yarmolenko remain sidelined for today’s game.

Masuaku who has been recovering from knee surgery is back in training but unlikely to gain match fitness until mid-March, Ogbonna will remain out until March with an ankle injury but does not require surgery while Yarmolenko will bee out for months with ligament damage.

Darren Randolph (knock) and Fabian Balbeunea (Calf) face late fitness tests for inclusion in the matchday squad but will only make the bench at best if they are deemed fit.

Michail Antonio (hamstring) has trained all week and has passed a fitness test and is likely to be included in today’s matchday squad. The big question is whether David Moyes will start him on Sunday at the London Stadium against Spurs or decide to start without him and bring on later to use him sparingly.

The 30-year-old last played against Fulham at the beginning of February before coming off on the 74th minute after he appeared to pull up.

Spurs will be without Giovani Lo Celso, Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon, but Jose Mourinho is confident Harry Kane will be back.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

gph 6:42 Sun Feb 21
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Harry Kane, un des nôtres

Merci, Alain

brabrook 6:15 Sun Feb 21
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
ted fenton 12:41 Sun Feb 21

Sven Roeder 12:44 Sun Feb 21
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan

Liked one of the newspaper headlines ... HARRY SAINT GERMAIN

ted fenton 12:41 Sun Feb 21
Re: Sunday newspapers (includes West Ham)
Thanks Alan.

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