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Fan v Fan: West Ham and Norwich discuss Saturday’s Premier League fixture

25 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Fan v Fan: West Ham and Norwich discuss Saturday’s Premier League fixture

The Hammers and Canaries supporters on their respective superb form, memorable meetings and the special players who have played for both

In celebration of the final year at the Boleyn Ground, we’ll be chatting to fans – home and away – ahead of every Premier League match played at the famous East London stadium this season.

In the latest instalment of our ‘Fan v Fan’ series, James (@WestHamWorld) from www.westhamworld.co.uk and Gary (@gary_gowers) from NorwichCity.MyFootballwriter.com debate Saturday’s encounter between the two in-form sides.

You must be pretty pleased with your sides’ respective starts to the season. What’s been the secret?

James: Pleased is an understatement!

It’s still hard to believe how well we’ve done away from home and I don’t think there’s a secret as such.

Slaven Bilic is a fearless manager who clearly sets his side up with a view of winning the game, regardless of who the opposition are.

Most teams will go to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City this season and sit back to try and snatch a draw.

But we went to all three grounds believing we were good enough to get all three points by attacking them – and it worked.

Gary: Yep, the general consensus among City fans – at least the level-headed variety – is that it’s been a steady start.

We haven’t arrived with the bells and whistles of Bournemouth – despite beating them comfortably – but in our own quiet way we’ve managed to acquire eight points from our first six games and we consider that to be OK.

There is no secret, but instead our solid start has been built on an exhaustive work ethic, good organisation and the manager’s shrewd tactical nous.

We’re probably the 20th wealthiest club in the Premier League and so, compared to many, the squad’s been put together on a relative shoestring.

But what Alex Neil has done is ensure there is a hunger and desire about the squad that will hopefully make up for some of the technical deficiencies.NeilWe’re limited but honest. The players work and work and work – and as a City fan that’s all we ask.

What do you make of the opposition threat?

James: I don’t know a great deal about Norwich, personally. Their biggest threat appears to be from set pieces, so we’ll have to be on top of that on Saturday.

Gary: West Ham are clearly a decent side who, to date, have even surpassed their own expectations.

Following on from the fairly unsophisticated style of Sam Allardyce, it seems that Bilic’s approach has headed them back towards a style Hammers’ fans consider to be closer to the much-fabled ‘West Ham Way’ and so far it’s worked.

Bilic’s put together a team full of pace and dynamism which is set up perfectly to hit sides on the break.

The win against Newcastle suggests they may now have cracked their home form after a couple of early hiccups. So, are they a threat? Absolutely.

Which player can make the difference on Saturday?

James: There’s a few who can make a big difference.PayetDimitri Payet and Victor Moses are the main ones, as has been proven in the wins against Newcastle and City, while having Cheikhou Kouyate back from injury will be important for us in midfield.

Gary: I’m tempted to say Wes Hoolahan, but given he wasn’t selected for Sunday’s draw against Liverpool at Anfield I’m not even sure he’ll play.

Neil played a canny game and sacrificed Wessi’s talents for the greater good and it worked.

If, however, he does find a way to accommodate him on Saturday – the fact on-loan Matt Jarvis can’t play may assist this – and if City can get him on the ball in dangerous areas, then he’s one who can unlock a door or two.

Nathan Redmond, too, can be a match-winner on his day and his battle with Aaron Cresswell will be a key battle.

And who’s their danger-man?

James: Redmond is the player I fear the most. He’s such an exciting young talent and I’d have him at West Ham tomorrow if given the chance. We’ll have to keep him quiet.

Gary: Payet. His blistering start to the season has been well documented and, from what I have seen, he appears almost unplayable at times – a real class act.

But he’s not alone. Moses, with his speed and power, is also one to look out for.

There’s been plenty of Premier League meetings between the two sides over the years. Are there any that stand out?

James: I have two really important memories of playing Norwich that will stay with me forever.

The first happens to be the first game I ever remember going to – way back in April 1992.

I was only about three and my dad insisted I was old enough to go. We won 4-0 thanks to a Matthew Rush brace and goals from Ian Bishop and Julian Dicks.

I cried all the way through the game because I was petrified of the loud noise the crowd made every time we scored. I got over that pretty quickly, thankfully.

The second memory is from March 1995, when I was six or seven and beginning to develop a love for the club.

We were trailing 2-0 and my dad decided we should leave early in order to beat the traffic home, but while we were on the way back to the car we heard two huge roars coming from the ground.

It turned out Tony Cottee – my first ever West Ham hero as a child – had scored two goals in injury-time to level the game.CotteeI haven’t left a game early since that day – even if we’re getting absolutely hammered – and you won’t see me leaving my seat until the full-time whistle has blown.

Gary: Our record against West Ham – just two wins since its inception in 1992/93 – is fairly unremarkable.

For that reason, the most recent victory – at Carrow Road in November 2013 – is the one that sticks in the mind because wins were something of a rarity in that relegation season.

On that afternoon, Ravel Morrison gave the Hammers an early lead before City came storming back and won 3-1 with goals from Gary Hooper, Robert Snodgrass and Leroy Fer.

The reverse game that season – a 2-0 win for West Ham – is one that sticks in the craw because it was ultimately the start of a gradual slide to the relegation zone.

City played quite well, only to be undone by two soft, late goals. It still hurts!

Several renowned players have played for both clubs. Are there any in particular that you have memories of?

James: Dean Ashton is the one that stands out for me.AshtonIt is such his career was cut short by a tragic injury just as he was really beginning to show his class as a striker.

Had he not been forced into retirement then I’m sure he’d have gone on to represent England regularly and scored a shed load of goals for us.

And then there’s Robert Green, who is probably up there as one of the best goalkeepers I remember in a West Ham shirt in my lifetime and only beaten by Ludek Miklosko and Shaka Hislop.

Gary: Ashton was only at City for a year before making the move, but in that time was a fantastic player and goalscorer.

It was a tragedy for England and West Ham that injury cut short his career.

Green was quality for City and came right up through the ranks before, again, the Hammers took him off our hands.

Martin Peters was a great player for City, even though we had him at the back end of his career.

He oozed class and quality – as you would expect from a World Cup winner.PetersHis impact on John Bond’s (another ex-Hammer) team of the mid-to-late seventies was immense.

Which Norwich player, from any era, would you have most wanted to play for West Ham?

James: Redmond, as mentioned before. There’s just something about him that I really like.

Gary: It would have to be Bobby Moore.

To have seen him in the same City side as Peters – especially if they were both in their pomp – would have been amazing and would have added quality and an aura hitherto unseen at Carrow Road.

And, finally, predictions for Saturday’s match?

James: It would be typical of West Ham to lose this one, but I’m confident we’ll continue our great form and make it four consecutive Premier League wins.

I think we’ll win 3-0, with the scorers being Payet, Diafra Sakho and Mark Noble from the spot.

Gary: Heart ruling head maybe, but an edgy 1-1.

16/1 – West Ham to beat Norwich 3-0

6/1 – West Ham and Norwich to draw 1-1

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READ: For the sake of their fans, West Ham need to find form at home

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