No creative spark, but Moyes gunning for three-in-a-row

  • by Staff Writer
  • Friday, 9th February 2024

David Moyes says Lucas Paqueta is definitely out of this weekend's London derby against Arsenal - while Michail Antonio has a small chance of being involved.

The Brazilian posted images of himself back in training earlier this week, lending weight to speculation suggesting he could be involved when West Ham attempt to secure a third successive win against the Gunners this season in Stratford on Sunday.

However the boss, speaking during his Friday presser confirmed Paqueta would not be available - while adding that Antonio, who has been out of action since last year is also unlikely to be involved.

"Lucas Paquetá won’t be available," he said. "He's not ready yet. Michail Antonio has started a couple of days’ training, but I have to say he's only trained two days with the group.

"He is looking okay, but he has been out for the best part of three months so he’s still off it as far as being much fit and available at the moment."

However one player who is available to feature is new signing Kalvin Phillips, who is set to cross swords with former Hammers and England team mate Declan Rice.

"We brought Kalvin in to to be to be a key player for us," said Moyes. "I believe he will be. I think he is going to take a little bit of time just to get himself back up and running, but that's fine. I've got no problem with that.

"We've got good midfield players. He's in addition to them. I need him to supplement what I've got – help out through injuries and suspension, and hopefully he's form would mean that he is always a starter. We're happy to give them a bit of time and let him break his way in.

"Declan will be welcomed back with open arms here. He came to see me the last time he was here when we had them in the Carabao Cup. He’s thought the world of by everybody behind the scenes here.

"And if you look at the class he showed when we all sort of knew he was leaving, with a lot of media attention about it, he showed great qualities. He attended the functions, dealt with young West Ham supporters. So he deserves respect for all those things as well."

As for the game, in which the Hammers hope to conplete a unique hat-trick of wins against Arsenal this season, Moyes admitted the'd have been happy with just ONE at the start of the season!

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"If you'd given me given me one of the wins against an Arsenal side so good, I think I'd have been happy," he responded when asked about West Ham's form in this particular fixture. "Two's fabulous. If we make three, it'll be fantastic and we’ll aim to do that.

"We've got them at home, but we're also really aware how good a side they are. They are an incredibly good side, have been challenging to win the Premier League for the last two years. And we're going have to play really well.

"The manager has done a brilliant job with the team. I think they've got some real top quality players and you only need to look at the result last week against Liverpool to how well they’ve been playing this season.

"They are a top team, they really are. We did a great job getting the result at the Emirates in December and overall we've had a couple of good results against them - but I know that we have to work really hard and play well to get something out of the game.

"Winning twice against them doesn't make me feel more confident, but it lets me know that I've already taken points from Arsenal this year. And we have shown that we can do it."

And key to doing so will be a return to his players finding the net once again - with West Ham having scored just four goals in their first six matches of 2024.

"The two games we won [against Asenal], we scored goals against them and that would be the key," he insisted. "If we can get some goals against them, then we'll give ourselves a chance. Our home form in the main, for most of the season, has been pretty good - and we hope we can keep that up.

"There have been a lot of years where it has not been that good. Last year, we had an unbelievable year, maybe not in our league position, but if you want to talk about that in the two years before we had unbelievable league positions. We're pushing again this year.

"We have to keep working hard to make it happen. You have to find a way to challenge all the top teams and we've been trying to do that. We’ve beaten Manchester United once this year, we've beaten Tottenham once this year, we’ve beaten Arsenal twice, and Chelsea once.

"So we’re giving the top teams at the moment a game - and I hope we can continue doing that and keep pushing to stay near the top of the league."

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