Marko Arnautovic has enjoyed a good run of form after a poor start in claret and blue. What do you think the reason for this has been?
Brian Penn: We may have all groaned when he was appointed but David Moyes should take a lot of credit for Arnie’s transformation. There was no doubting his ability but he received negative feedback at virtually every club he played for. He was seen as childish, arrogant and temperamental. Moyes left him in no doubt that he had to work harder. He’s now a genuine threat with the ball at his feet. It’s like watching a different player.
Katie Shergold: I agree with Brian that Arnautovic was left in no doubt that he had to put the effort in to make sure his move to West Ham didn’t end in disaster before it had really started. He can feel the love from the fans and that put together with Moyes’ expectations means he has gone from strength to strength.
David Bowden: Marko has always been the kind of player who needs an arm around his shoulder, made to feel like the main man, and Moyes he has done that. He was a little lethargic under Bilic but then every player was coasting. Moyes has demanded more from each and every player and Arnie’s confidence has grown and we are reaping the rewards.
Emily Pulham: As much as I hate to admit it, I really feel Moyes has got the best out of him. He gets how to play him, and putting him up front is a clever stroke of genius.
Jack Kavanagh: West Ham fans love a creative rogue, and based on his form since December, Arnautovic could soon join the ranks of Paolo Di Canio and Dimitri Payet. Moyes has got a major improvement from him and he’s built the attack around Arnautovic.
James Collins is out of contract at the end of the season. Would you give him a new deal?
BP: James Collins has been a fine servant to the club but I don’t feel he should be given a new contract purely out of sentiment. Yes, loyalty is a rare commodity in the modern game and he would be a positive influence on young players coming through. But age is catching up with him and he would at best be a squad player warming the bench. I think it’s time to say thank you and good night.
KS: I couldn’t disagree more Brian! There is no doubt in my mind that Collins should be offered a new deal. Whenever he is called upon he always delivers. He has been outstanding this season and I can honestly say we haven’t missed Winston Reid because of it. To not offer him a new deal, would be criminal. He needs to end his career at West Ham United.
DB: James Collins, like Mark Noble, epitomises everything about West Ham United. For that reason alone he deserves a one-year extension. I’d like to see Ginge sticking around at the club for years to come in a coaching capacity. His warrior like attitude rubs off on other players and we need fighters at this time.
EP: I agree with Katie and David. Passion is more important than anything, and he’s proved his commitment to the squad and he delivers in every game he plays. I’d rather a thousand Collins to one Hernandez.
JK: Sorry Brian, it’s four against one. On recent form, we’d be silly not to give Collins another one year deal. He is another player enjoying a resurgence under Moyes. Based on this season’s early form I thought Ginge was done at the Hammers but he was magnificent against Stoke back in December. Coming three months after his last start, he made a team-high 18 clearances and blocked three shots.
Javier Hernandez scored after coming off the bench against Bournemouth. Should David Moyes find a system that incorporates the little Mexican from the start?
BP: The emerging chemistry between Arnautovic and Lanzini has put him on the bench. If a system works, I don’t feel it should be changed just to accommodate a ‘star’ player. Hernandez is a quality striker with a great goal scoring ratio. It might seem an outrageous luxury using him as an impact sub; but no player can rely on automatic selection. The old mantra still holds, you pick your best team not your biggest names.
KS:It’s a difficult scenario, but to have Hernandez in our team and not utilise him seems crazy to me. If Lanzini is going to be out through injury, I think Hernandez needs to be starting with Arnautovic. He needs to be given a chance and if he doesn’t prove himself.
DB: For starters, I don’t think we’ll be letting him go this window. If we did that would be a crazy decision. Chica is class at what he does. The first fox in the box type player we’ve had since Defoe/Cottee and the goal against Bournemouth was classic Hernandez and perhaps Moyes has stumbled on a combination of Arnie and Chica – a speedy dynamic duo.
EP: I’d like him to try to find a system that he excels in, as long as it’s not to the detriment of players like Lanzini and Arnautovic, who are doing very well in the system we have now. It’s frustrating that he isn’t being utilised, given that if we hadn’t signed him before, he’s the player I’d want us to go for in this transfer window.
JK: Between them Hernandez and Arnautovic have 11 Premier League goals, I still don’t understand why Moyes is reluctant to play both together. Chicharito has the best goals per minute on the team and should be central to our system. Clearly the strikeforce of Hernandez up front and Arnautovic playing just behind has its merits. The Austrian can create, while Chicharito is present in the box to finish any half-chances coming his way.
West Ham have climbed the table in recent weeks but it is still very tight at the bottom. Who do you think will go down this season?
BP: Swansea have flirted with relegation for the last couple of years and think they will go down. They will be joined by West Brom who are in an inexorable tailspin. I have a strange feeling Stoke will dig themselves out of trouble, so I reckon Southampton will fill the final spot.
KS: I am feeling hopeful that it won’t be West Ham as I would like to think that we have improved enough and are stronger than the teams around us. January could be an important month for lots of teams, as it is very close between ninth and 20th place. Like Brian, I am predicting Swansea, West Brom but I think it’ll be Stoke that joins them in being relegated.
DB: I think our recent run has shown just what an unbeaten spell can do for a struggling team. It has happened to Palace, and it has happened to us. I think we’ll be comfortably fine. As for the three to go, I too think Swansea, West Brom but, some might say controversially, I think Brighton.
EP: I fear we’re in a season where we will get to three games to go and anyone from 10th down could mathematically get relegated – making this a hard one to predict! I think it will be Swansea, and then one of Stoke or West Brom, and – not so controversially David – Brighton.
JK: This year’s relegation battle is fascinating, I am certainly finding it more interesting now that West Ham look to be safe. There are about seven teams that should be concerned about dropping into the Championship. Swansea can’t score to save their lives, while West Brom and Brighton are looking poor. I could even see Watford getting dragged into difficulty, as morale has noticeably dropped and have lost Marco Silva.
The Irons travel to Brighton and Liverpool and host Watford in February. How many points do you think we will pick up from the month?
BP: Hope and expectation are cruel emotions frequently at odds with each other — especially for an Irons fan! Realistically, we will pick up four points from a possible nine in February. We won’t get any joy at Liverpool. Brighton away is yet another six pointer and I would settle for a point there. However, we should take the full three points at home to Watford. But honestly, who would be prophet in this game?
KS: As negative as this sounds, I think the absolute maximum we can realistically hope for is six points. However, I personally believe we will get the three points away to Brighton and one point at home to Watford. The Liverpool game worries me, as although we have improved defensively I think Liverpool will be far too strong especially at Anfield.
DB: We have to be aiming at a minimum of four points from those games. I fancy us at Brighton and at Liverpool you never know! Having said that, with the form they are on you would suspect that will be another disappointing trip to the Mersey. Our home form is so hit and miss you can never tell, so a point against Watford.
EP: Liverpool are so good going forward right now, I wouldn’t expect us to get much at Anfield! We’ve got the potential to do well against Brighton and Watford, but we’ve struggled against both before. Four points.
JK: Despite conceding a combined nine goals to those teams earlier in the season, these are three winnable games. We’re watching a revitalised West Ham team, who should be aiming to get seven points. Brighton look frightened, we know Liverpool can’t defend and Watford have dipped since December. The unheralded David Moyes has transformed this team and restored confidence, I think we can expect two wins and a draw.