Arsenal visit the London Stadium for the first time this month – what has been your favourite memory of playing the Gunners in the Premier League era?
Brian Williams: In the great escape year of 2007 and discovering we had won 1-0 at the Emirates after spending the entire second half sitting up a wooden tower in the Lake District with my son, both of us knowing that if we came down to rejoin the rest of the family, or checked the score at any point, the footballing gods would punish us with an Arsenal equaliser. Mindless superstition? Never! Every supporter knows how these things work.
Greg Richardson: For me I think it has to be the 3-2 win at Highbury in 2006. Not only were we the last team to beat them there but Reo-Coker and Zamora mugged Sol Campbell off so much he just left at half time. I don’t think he ever really recovered after that.
Holly Worthington: Like Greg, my favourite memory has to be the last team to beat them at Highbury in 2006. As for the first team to win at the Emirates in 2007, we definitely had a touch of luck after they failed to score from 30 attempts!
Danny Rust: The late winner from Marlon Harewood in that 2006 game stands out. After a fantastic end-to-end match, a superb low cross from Matthew Etherington found Harewood who fired home from close range. A close second favourite memory was our then boss Alan Pardew getting into that infamous touchline bust-up with Arsene Wenger!
Geoff Hillyer: Have to agree with the majority here. Bonfire Night, 2006. A poor season to date meant that Arsenal were overwhelming favourites to win but this pulsating game was settled in the last minute courtesy of a Marlon Harewood winner. As for Arsene Wenger getting very upset with Alan Pardew afterwards that was hilarious.
West Ham have a busy schedule in December. They face Liverpool, Burnley, Hull, Swansea and Leicester City as well as Arsenal in the Premier League. How many points would represent a good return for the month?
BW: We simply have to win the home games against Burnley and Hull – we’re in a real relegation dogfight otherwise. And if you offered me four points from the other four games I’d take them right now, without the gift wrapping.
GR: I’d say anything above 10 points from those games would be exceptional. You look at these games and say Burnley, Hull, Swansea and Leicester are all winnable if we turn up and play at our best for the full 90 minutes. We haven’t managed to do that much this season so I’d say three wins and a draw somewhere is probably the best we can hope for.
HW: We should definitely get nine points from Burnley, Hull and Swansea. I’m predicting 12 points as I think we’ll take another three points from Leicester. Any points in the Arsenal and Liverpool games would be a huge bonus.
DR: I agree with Holly. Twelve points would be a good return. We’re not expected to beat Arsenal, but with it being a London derby anything could happen. Liverpool are in superb form and will be difficult to beat. But maximum points against Burnley, struggling champions Leicester City, and relegation-threatened Hull and Swansea should see us start to climb the table.
GH: There are a number of winnable games in this run but we thought that about earlier games this season and we’ve been left disappointed. How many points would I like to see? 10 minimum, ideally 12. How many do I expect? About nine, and probably not in the matches you’d expect.
Darren Randolph replaced Adrian in the Hammers goal for the trip to Tottenham. Has he now done enough to be considered our number one keeper?
BW: Adrian is starting to look like an accident waiting to happen. I like Randolph, he did really well for us in the cup games last season. Let’s give him a decent run to see what he can do at the top level every week.
GR: I’d stick with Randolph. I think he’s just a calmer and safer option, which is what we need in our current situation. Adrian is probably the better shot-stopper but he’s prone to the odd moment that can cost us, like against Stoke. I think this puts our defenders on edge.
HW: Randolph has definitely proven himself, and I’ve never had full confidence in Adrian. Having said that, I reckon Randolph coming in could push Adrian to up his game to become first choice again.
DR: Randolph has been impressive in cup competitions but his rise to getting that start against Spurs is probably more to do with Adrian’s various mistakes this season – namely against Watford and Stoke City – than his own performances.
GH: I’m sorry but I disagree with everyone. We’ve seen Randolph a few times, mainly in the cup competitions, and he’s done OK. But in the league against Spurs, he had his chance and didn’t take it, particularly when looking at the second goal. For me, Adrian is the number one ‘keeper and should remain so.
Diafra Sakho also returned to the starting line-up in that game. Does the striker now have a long-term future with the club or do you think he’ll be off in January?
BW: I’d like to think he and the manager can bury the hatchet, but I get the feeling the only place Slav ever wants to bury a hatchet after an argument is in the other fella’s head. So long, Sakho – it was nice knowing you.
GR: Sakho getting game time feels like a marriage of convenience. We need a striker as noone else is fit or scoring and he needs to put himself in the window for a new club. He’s burnt his bridges with us and Slav doesn’t suffer big ego’s – just ask Amalfitano. Sakho doesn’t want to be second or third choice striker so I think he’ll be gone.
HW: I disagree with Brian and Greg, from what we have available, Sakho is our most proven Premier League striker. I’d keep him at least until the end of the season considering the problems we’re having with strikers. He looked a bit rusty against Tottenham but I’m hoping he’ll find his feet, and the back of the net soon.
DR: I agree with Holly. Diafra Sakho should remain at the club. Since coming here, he has struggled with injuries but he has been good in front of goal. His return at Spurs was welcome and he will get better with every match.
GH: Selling strikers is not going to help at this stage. While the situation isn’t ideal, unless we find someone who can stick the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis, and in the knowledge that Sakho is more than capable, I think he’s staying for now.
This is Blowing Bubbles final issue of 2016. What was your favourite memory from the year?
BW: Dimitri Payet, with a smile as wide as the Blackwall Tunnel, waiting by the tunnel at half-time to congratulate Joe Hart on the astonishing save from his free kick in the Man City game.
GR: Mark Noble’s testimonial for me. Getting to see all those legends at Upton Park one last time was amazing.
HW: My favourite memory has to be the send-off for the Boleyn. We only lost one home game last season, finished seventh in the league and qualified for Europa League. And we finished life at Upton Park by beating Man United 3-2. I couldn’t have wished for more, and it’s definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
DR: I’m with Holly, the comeback victory over the Red Devils was a fitting send-off for the Boleyn Ground.
GH: Yeah, it has to be the final match at the Boleyn against Manchester United. Coming from 2-1 down to win 3-2. How sweet was that? Th e atmosphere was the best it had been for years.
And the one thing you’d like to be able to forget?
BW: The realisation that moving to the new stadium was an even bigger mistake than I feared.
GR: For me, it was the in-fighting amongst our own fans and all the negativity that has brought both in the ground and from the press. I know results have been poor but what pulls us through and keeps the club going is the ‘West Ham Family’ and I’d like to forget the fractions that have occurred to that family this year.
HW: I’d really like to forget our recent game against Tottenham. It was absolutely heartbreaking. We went from what looked like a win to losing in the fi nal minutes. To make matters worse, I had money on us winning too!
DR: Without wishing to sound like a broken record, I agree with Holly. Th e last minute defeat at Tottenham Hotspur was difficult to take. Th e 89th minute equaliser was certainly avoidable, and a ridiculously needless tackle from Havard Nordtveit resulted in us leaving with nothing.