West Ham need a big display from Wilshere on his Emirates return

Jack Wilshere joined Arsenal when he was nine. His long association with the Gunners came to an end this summer, however, when his contract was not renewed.

In July, he agreed a three-year contract with West Ham. The Irons were, in some ways, a perfect fit.

Staying in London was part of that, but the chance to work under Manuel Pellegrini was also important. Pellegrini was charged with bringing attacking football to the London Stadium, and his style of play seemed to suit Wilshere. The former Manchester City manager gives freedom to his midfielders, which is something Wilshere may not have got elsewhere.  Continue reading

Yarmolenko is yet another hopeful Hammers punt

Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 21.08.37

On the face of it, West Ham appear to be doing some decent transfer business this season.

Manuel Pellegrini has made good on his promise to sift through the dead wood and bring in some new faces, whilst also making it clear that other players are available for the right price.

Quite why he wants to part with Michail Antonio is anyone’s guess, especially for a reported £15 million, but the Chilean will have his reasons. Continue reading

England Gets It Right With Squad Announcement Video


Yesterday, the English Football Association released the 23-man squad for the World Cup. As usual, Gareth Southgate’s call-ups prompted much debate. Why did Gary Cahill get called up after a dismal season over younger, more promising options such as Lewis Dunk, Jamaal Lascelles and James Tarkowski? Was it big club bias? Why did two of England’s best passers, Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Wilshere, fail to even make the standby list? And why did none of England’s evergreen, teenage wingers, like Jadon Sancho and Ryan Sessegnon, get excluded from the squad list? There will be plenty of more room for hindsight bias as time goes on, and plenty more time for fans to thumb their noses at Southgate’s decisions, but one decision that should be met with universal praise is the choice to let England’s youth announce the squad list.

The video features children from across the nation announcing different players on the World Cup squad. While the video has amassed over 20,000 retweets since being posted on England’s Twitter account, it was also met with plenty of outrage from those who would prefer the account had just released a list of the players. You just have to scroll through the comment section to find a sea of fans disgusted at the national team’s efforts to ‘appeal to the youth.’

First of all, England aren’t appealing to just the youth with the announcement video, they’re appealing to the entire country. There is nothing that stokes positivity and happiness in an entire nation than seeing kids…well, being kids. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in. It wouldn’t matter if Belgium, or Panama, or Tunisia released the same announcement with the same concept: no matter what, children will always help drive a nation’s morale up.

The video starts at Wembley, with a boy and a girl directing you to turn up the sound. You’re going to need it throughout the next minute and a half of joyful screaming. Raheem Sterling is first, as a group of teenage friends celebrate his inclusion. Then, there’s a boy screaming out of a car window, with two England flags waving on the top of the car, who shouts, “JOHN STONES! GO ON LAD!”

The theme continues, with a girl surfing through a muddy pitch, as if she’d just scored an absolute curler, and then shouting “Danny Rose!” Then comes the playful tribalism. A boy standing on top of a wall spray-painted “Jamie Vardy” announces the Leicester striker’s inclusion, and notes how the Premier League winner was “made in Sheffield.” Next, at a Bristol bus stop, one child announces hometown hero Jack Butland’s inclusion. A group of Lewisham boys proudly parade Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a Mancunian child announces Danny Welbeck, and who could forget “Walthamstow’s finest,” Harry Kane?

I am American, I have never so much stepped foot inside England since Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and I tend to cheer when a team like Uruguay or Iceland send England packing from an international tournament. But I cannot deny that a video like that fills your heart with national pride and joy.

The creators of the video should also be applauded for going out of their way to feature England’s diverse demographics. Not only does the video feature boys and girls of different ethnicities, of different backgrounds and of different parts of the country, but it also features children with disabilities. A boy with Down’s Syndrome announces Jesse Lingard’s inclusion while playing FIFA, and then does one of Lingard’s many different goal celebrations. A deaf boy signifies in sign language that “Ashley Young’s on the plane.” The England social media team deserve credit for linking together a group of diverse children, bonded by nothing more than a passport and a shared love for football, and making them the stars of the World Cup squad announcement video.

It’s ingenious video ideas like this that not only give hope to the next generation, but to the future of marketing as well. While every other nation will simply release a 23-man list on the day of their respective announcements, England ought to be praised for going outside the box and proving just how crazy English kids are for football.

The squad announcement didn’t necessarily need a video, but England still went for it, and they pulled it off. I fail to see how anyone could possibly have a problem with this, but I would be a fool to ignore the cardinal rule of Twitter: as long as you tweet it, someone is bound to get mad at it for no apparent reason.

Play the newest EPL Fantasy game here.

Can Jack Wilshere evolve into a mainstay deep-lying playmaker?

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere put in another impressive performance in an England shirt against Scotland on Tuesday night, with the 22-year-old grabbing his first assist for the Three Lions. Wilshere played a beautiful lofted ball into the onrushing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who deftly headed the pass into the back of the net to give England the lead.

Wilshere has come under a lot of criticism in the past for not contribution with goals and assists, but his performances for England in a new position seem to be getting the best from him. Only Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner made more touches in the England team against Scotland than Jack Wilshere, who also made the most interceptions (3) and dribbles (2) too.

The 22-year-old clearly is relishing being a first-team player under Roy Hodgson, and is finally starting to show some end product to his game. In the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia, Wilshere once again came away with some of the plaudits for a fine performance at the base of the midfield for England.

Despite being a player of short stature, Wilshere is very physical, and never afraid to throw his weight around. He shields the ball very well, is very confident and composed when in possession, and always wants the ball in dangerous areas to harm the opposition. But England manager Roy Hodgson has looked to play him in a deeper position, solely to take advantage of his wide range of passing.

The England playmaker is the best passer of the ball in the England team now, and also offers combative attributes on the pitch, reading the game well to make important interceptions, while never being afraid to make a tackle.

Wilshere has been around for a while, but his best form over a run of games is something few have seen in a long time. This season, his influence will be maximised in the Arsenal side, with holding-midfielders Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini struggling for form.

The youngster can do the dirty work in the engine room, can play long balls out of trouble pinpoint to any player, and now has an end product to his game. Hodgson will be licking his lips at the prospect of Jack Wilshere by the time Euro 2016 comes around, and from what he has seen when utilising the young playmaker in a deep-lying role, the Arsenal academy graduate has the potential to be a successful mainstay.