Daily News: Yilmaz to join? Berge on trial.

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West Ham United 2 Manchester City 2 – West Ham Official Site

Enner Valencia netted two goals but West Ham United had to settle for a point after Sergio Aguero’s late equaliser denied the Hammers another famous victory over Manchester City.

A pulsating game saw the Hammers lead twice, only for City’s talisman to deny the hosts a thrilling victory in what was a wonderfully breathless game played out under the Boleyn Ground floodlights.

Valencia fired home two confident finishes, netting in the opening minute before Aguero levelled from the penalty spot. The Ecuador forward put West Ham back in front from Michail Antonio’s superb long throw early in the second half, only for his fellow South American to snatch a point nine minutes from full-time.

Earlier, Slaven Bilic’s side had made the dream start, with the No11 continuing his recent hot streak by netting after just 55 seconds.

Cheikhou Kouyate showed great skill to burst past Yaya Toure down the left-hand side before crossing the ball for Valencia, who made no mistake, firing a low shot past Joe Hart.

Valencia’s goal was the second quickest in the Premier League this season, with only Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie beating it by scoring against Tottenham Hotspur after just 49 seconds.

City could have been back on level terms on six minutes after a quick free-kick over the top was well controlled by Aguero, who lobbed over Adrian and the ball hit the inside of the post.

The danger signs were clearly there and the two-time Premier League champions drew level a few moments later after they were awarded a penalty after Aguero was brought down inside the box by Carl Jenkinson.

The Argentine forward picked himself up and slotted the spot-kick low to Adrian’s right as the Spanish keeper dived the wrong way.

There was more bad news for the home side as Jenkinson was forced to leave the action on 13 minutes through injury – suffered to his left leg in challenging Aguero for the penalty – allowing new signing Sam Byram to make his debut at right-back.

The Hammers could have taken the lead on 33 minutes after Michail Antonio had been set clear by Dimitri Payet but he was brought down by Martin Demichelis. The home support felt the City defender should have received more than a yellow card as Antonio seemed to be through on goal, but referee Craig Pawson deemed a booking as the appropriate punishment.

From the resulting free-kick Dimitri Payet saw his curling free-kick superbly saved by Hart in the City goal, who produced a sensational save with one hand to push the ball away.

The teams went in level at the break after an outstanding opening half, but if anything the second period was even better…

City started arguably the stronger after the break and hit the woodwork once again on 55 minutes when Fabian Delph broke clear into the area and saw his left-foot shot clip the far post.

The visitors were made to pay as Valencia added his second of the game for the home side just a minute later. Antonio’s quickly-taken long throw-in caused all kinds of problems for Nicolas Otamendi, who failed to hold off the challenge of the Ecuador forward and Valencia struck the ball past Hart.

The Hammers could have added a third on 65 minutes when Alex Song fired a shot inches past the post.

The game continued to flow this way and that, with Manuel Pellegrini throwing on a number of forwards in the hope of turning the game around again, and it was that man Aguero who got on the scoresheet once again to make it 2-2 on 81 minutes.

City substitute Kelechi Iheanacho caused all kinds of problems inside the Hammers penalty area and, as defenders made desperate challenges, the ball fell to Aguero who struck the ball into the bottom corner.

The last chance of the game fell to Kouyate, as Payet’s free-kick landed on his head inside the box, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and over to Hart’s relief. With that, Mr Pawson brought a fabulous game of football to a close.

The Hammers had to settle for a point but it was another impressive performance and the players will be full of confidence as they prepare for the Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie against Liverpool next Saturday.

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson (Byram 13), Collins, Reid, Cresswell, Song, Noble ©, Kouyate, Antonio (Moses 65), Payet, Valencia (Jelavic 87)

Subs not used: Randolph (GK), Ogbonna, Obiang, Oxford

Booked: Noble, Byram

Goals: Valencia 1, 56

Manchester City: Hart, Sagna, Demichelis, Otamendi, Clichy, Toure, Delph (Iheanacho 76), Navas (Sterling 67), De Bruyne, Silva (Fernando 83), Aguero

Subs not used: Caballero (GK), Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Tasende

Booked: Demichelis, Toure, Fernando

Goals: Aguero 9 (pen), 81

Referee: Craig Pawson

Attendance: 34,977 (2,997 away)

Galatasaray boss in the dark over West Ham target Burak Yilmaz’s future – Turkish Football

Galatasaray manager Mustafa Denizli has stated that he is in the dark regarding the future of his star striker Burak Yilmaz.

The Turkish international scored during Galatasaray’s disappointing 3-2 defeat at the hands of the newly promoted Osmanlispor.

“I have not received any information regarding Burak. But I wouldn’t want him to leave. We are depleted and can not reinforce during this window,” Denizli stated after the game (via Hurriyet).

West Ham have made a €7 million bid for  Yilmaz according to the Hurriyet. The report claims that the Hammers have put forward an offer that will see the Premier League outfit pay €6 million upfront and a further €1 million instalment if the club ensure Europa League football.

Galatasaray could be tempted to accept the offer considering the club is facing the prospect of a UEFA competition ban for failing to meet Financial Fair Play regulations.

Yılmaz has lifted the league title as well as the Turkish Cup twice since joining the club and has been one of the most constantly prolific strikers in the league over the past few seasons.

Noble claims he’s in the form of his life – Football Insider

Mark Noble has claimed he is in the form of his life after West Ham came within a late Sergio Aguero goal of claiming another major Premier League scalp.

Slaven Bilic’s team have beaten a number of the elite top-flight teams this season and nearly did so again on Saturday evening only to draw 2-2 against Manchester City.

An Enner Valencia double had twice put West Ham in front at Upton Park, but on each occasion Aguero levelled the scores.

Noble produced another fine display in central midfield and revealed afterwards that he is keen for his form to be rewarded with an England call-up.

Responding to a question from former England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce on Saturday night, the long-serving West Ham midfielder, 28, told Sky Sports: “I feel great. We’ve got a good team and some great players around me. You’re right, I definitely feel as if I’m in the best form of my career. It’s a pleasure to play every week with the players that we’ve got.

“You’ve coached me, you know me, I give 100 per cent in every training session and every game. You never know, if that happens, it does. We’re going well at West Ham, it’s thoroughably enjoyable.

“Obviously, every young English boy dreams of playing for the national team and I’ve still got that goal in my life.”

West Ham climbed to within one point of fifth-placed Manchester United in the Premier League as they reached 36 points, while City leapfrogged Arsenal to reach second in the table.

Bilic – I’m proud – West Ham Official Site

It is a marker of how far West Ham United have come this season that Slaven Bilic could talk with a tinge of disappointment that his side were pegged back by Manchester City in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

The Hammers were denied a famous double over the Citizens by Sergio Aguero’s 81st minute leveller, after Enner Valencia’s double had sandwiched the Argentine’s first goal.

West Ham were terrific, with Dimitri Payet pulling the strings in midfield and Valencia leadling the line brilliantly – leading to Bilic’s feeling of pride overtaking that initial disappointment.

He said: “When you play like we played tonight and you are 2-1 up at home with ten minutes to go, of course you are disappointed when you finish 2-2 – especially when you hit the post in the dying seconds of the game.

“We were closer to winning, but nobody can deny that they didn’t deserve the point, because they had chances. They scored two goals and they hit the post twice too.

“We are a little bit disappointed but that only shows how well we played. You are never happy with the point, but much more than that I am proud of my team and the way we presented West Ham tonight.”

West Ham’s start could not have been better, with Valencia scoring inside the first minute, but they then had to recover from adversity when first Aguero equalised, then Carl Jenkinson went off injured – and Bilic was pleased with their response.

He continued: “It was a great start – a great goal and everything.

“Then, first it’s 1-1 from a controversial penalty, shall we say, then Carl Jenkinson was injured so we put young Sam in such a demanding game when he was not even supposed to be on the bench.

“It gave him a chance to play and he played really well, if not excellently. For me it was very important that we showed stability after 1-1. We were really contesting the game tonight, that’s my point of view. We were not good, we were excellent.

“You have to defend well, you have to defend with numbers, you have to be aggressive then you have to be good on the ball if you want to penetrate them and we were all that.”

Bilic also had high-praise for his two-goal striker Valencia, who showed just what he is capable of.

He added: “We didn’t talk about Enner since the beginning of the season, only because he got injured before the start of the season.

“His quality has always been sky-high and not only goals, everything. His contribution, he’s great in the air, he’s got a great touch and he’s torturing the defences that have to play against him.

“He deserved this kind of performance.”

Byram enjoys ‘unbelievable’ debut – West Ham Official Site

A week ago, Sam Byram was helping Leeds United to a 2-0 FA Cup third round win over Rotherham United.

Eight days later, the 22-year-old was thrown into the intensity of a Barclays Premier League clash between West Ham United and Manchester City, played in front of 35,000 noisy fans under the Boleyn Ground floodlights and a worldwide television audience.

Byram opened up against £54m man Kevin Bruyne, keeping the Belgian at arm’s length before he was replaced by £60m England international Raheem Sterling, who got nowhere against the former Leeds star.

You would not have guessed it, as Byram emerged from the substitutes’ bench to produce a performance full of poise, confidence and promise as the Hammers secured a thrilling, if ultimately a little disappointing 2-2 draw.

“To be fair, I was surprised to come on that early,” said Byram, who celebrated by meeting Hammers fan Russell Brand and former Oasis frontman and City supporter Noel Gallagher after the final whistle. “I was over the moon to be on the bench and be involved and see how they do things down here.

“When I walked out of the tunnel and saw the bubbles in the air and saw a full house with the fans cheering, it was great. Then to be thrown on, I was really happy.

“When you’ve got players like we’ve got in our team, it makes it easier, because you’ve got two or three options every time you get it and I think it really helps when you’ve got players like that.”

Byram’s chance came earlier than expected, with the No22 replacing the injured Carl Jenkinson within the opening 15 minutes.

Despite having never played a minute of Premier League football in his career, the youngster settled immediately – especially after playing a ridiculous 40-yard one-two with the sensational Dimitri Payet.

“It was obviously a massive step up. At the start of the game when I was watching, you could obviously see the speed and it was very fast.

“When you’re on the pitch it’s a different game. You try to stay calm and cool and, with the players we’ve got in our team, it makes it easier to play.

“The crowd were unbelievable. Whenever I got the ball and tried to do something, I got a cheer off them and it really does help when you’re making the step up to this level.”

Taking the emotion of the game being his debut out of the equation, was Byram disappointed not to be celebrating a victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s side?

“I think we’re a bit disappointed we didn’t win the game, considering we played very well in spells of the game,” he said. “I felt we pressurised them very well when they had the ball and we didn’t give them the respect they expected.

“I think we created some very good chances and we’re disappointed not to get the three points.”

Byram will miss next weekend’s FA Cup trip to Liverpool as he is cup-tied, but the new boy is hoping to have given manager Slaven Bilic food for thought for the remainder of the season.

“Hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I came in. I’m just trying to get my head down and work hard and do my best for the team.”

Song – We’re doing very good things – West Ham Official Site

Man of the Match Alex Song made no bones about his disappointment after Sergio Aguero’s late second denied West Ham United a famous Barclays Premier League double over Manchester City on Saturday.

The Cameroon man felt his side did everything in their power to leave the Boleyn Ground with all three points and so were hard done by to concede a late leveller in an enthralling contest.

And though he was stewing about the result, Song was determined to take the positives from another exceptional team display.

He told West Ham TV: “When you see how we started the game in the first minute and then in the last minute we had a chance [to win it]. I think it’s very disappointing because we need more, but sometimes the game is like this.

“We had opportunities. Cheik hit the crossbar, it was unbelievable, everyone thought it was in. Dimi has a great free-kick and then I think the way we played we need to go back home with three points.

“We’re doing very good things when we start and at the end of the game. Maybe sometimes we lose a bit, maybe one second, we lose concentration and they scored again, but sometimes this happens. We have to keep focused to look forward to the next step.

“But it’s good as well that we didn’t lose, we have to look forward, we have to produce the same performance when we play away like we did on Saturday.”   

Having had to bide his time, the 28-year-old was thrilled with his own performance against title-contenders City, and hailed his fellow midfielders Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate.   

“I’m very happy,” he confirmed. “I didn’t play for seven months and I knew it would not be easy.

“I need time to come back, but at the moment the team are doing very well and you have to be patient, work very hard and wait for the manager to give me the opportunity. Then I have to take it.

“On Saturday I had the opportunity to play and I’m very happy, I want to thank my team-mates because they helped me a lot.

“When you have Yaya Toure in the midfield, David Silva, great players, it’s always a pleasure to play against those players.

“We did it altogether, the players in the middle, Kouyate, Nobes, I think we did very well and we had a very good team performance. We are very happy how we managed the game in the middle.”  

Song insists the Hammers’ fortunes will be improved further still by the return of players in the coming weeks and reserved special mention for young Sam Byram who looked every bit at home in the Premier League.   

He continued: “We are happy because we have some players who are coming back from injury, Lanzini’s coming back as well.

“Jenks was injured, but we have a young player who came in for his first game, it was brilliant. He shows he’s not scared of anything. It was a very good start for him and I told him ‘good luck, you have a very good future.'”    

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet a joy to watch, says Jamie Redknapp – Sky Sports

Jamie Redknapp led the plaudits for West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet after he produced an “effortless” display against Manchester City on Saturday Night Football.

The Frenchman, a £10m summer acquisition from Marseille, has taken the Premier League by storm, scoring six goals in 15 appearances for the Hammers.

Payet has slotted straight back into Slaven Bilic’s side despite having recently returned from almost two months out with an ankle injury.

And he proved his worth once again at Upton Park in West Ham’s 2-2 draw with City, producing a scintillating display to earn the man of the match award.

And Sky Sports pundit Redknapp commended Payet post-match, saying: “Payet makes me want to buy a West Ham season ticket, he really does.

“I’m sure clubs would have looked at him and maybe thought that at 28 years old his £10m price tag may not have offered good sell-on value.

“But today his performance was class – he outshone David Silva, who I am a big fan of. Everything he did today was class, every pass, every touch and going past people like they weren’t there.

“It’s almost effortless for him. He was a joy to watch today, he really was.”

While Premier League clubs are beginning to wise up to Payet’s attacking quality, Redknapp was particularly impressed with his all-round contribution as only a late Sergio Aguero goal denied West Ham victory.

“We all know Payet has got the flicks and the tricks, but there were questions whether he could do the hard work for the team,” Redknapp added.

“In the last couple of minutes of the game he knew his right-back – Sam Byram – was struggling with injury and he got back to cover.

“That is what impressed me most. He was magnificent today, he was a joy to watch.”

And Payet even received praise from his manager after, with Hammers boss Bilic claiming the Frenchman is the catalyst behind his side’s growing attacking prowess.

“Yes, of course [it was enjoyable to watch him],” Bilic said. “He is doing that day in, day out in training, those special flicks and passes and switching sides.

“He is the player who is making all the other players better with his passes and his confidence on the ball and with the right passes at the right moments.

“Of course, that is exciting for the fans but it wasn’t just him, we all played good.”

West Ham paid homage to their DNA, under the dimming lights of the Boleyn – Evening Standard

There won’t be many more of these gripping winter nights at the Boleyn Ground, but this one will serve as one of the outstanding final reminders of what the old place has been about for all these years.

On a cold, dank evening when east London’s ancestral stadium throbbed with its uniquely earthy brand of noise and soul, West Ham twice led Manchester City and made them look weary outsiders for the Premier League title.

They also delivered a display of the kind of electric, dynamic attacking football the locals will sometimes try to convince you was actually invented and then patented on this pitch.

That isn’t strictly true, of course. But with only eight more league games remaining here, this energetic new Hammers team forged a late-edition memory of an evening of thrills, spirit, endeavour and adventure which prompted a standing ovation from the stands at the end.

This is the new landscape of the Premier League, where the financially mighty clubs like City escape from places like Upton Park relieved to have earned a point against the odds. 

It went on show at a stadium which is soon to be vacated and left behind.  Perhaps there was an irony in that. Perhaps, too, though, the fact that the Irons are on the move transmitted even more emphatically the idea that the ground is shifting in this mightily ferocious competition, too.

Slaven Bilic’s team have been major  participants in the uprising of the middle–rankers which has taken place this season, along with teams like Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Watford and, of course, high-flying Leicester City.

West Ham have won at Arsenal, City and Anfield and beaten Chelsea here. They have completed a Double over Liverpool.

At the beginning of the season, many wondered if this was an early fluke. But just as Leicester have maintained their place among the leaders , so West Ham have kept going; just ticking over sometimes while hampered by a serious injury crisis. But refusing to fall away all the same.

And now this, one of their finest performances of the campaign, illuminated once again by the dazzling trickery and brilliance of Dimitri Payet and by two goals from Enner Valencia, whose return to fitness has now been marked by four goals in the last three league games.

Let’s face it. It is going to be a struggle to replicate this atmosphere and this kind of game at the sparkling new Olympic Stadium simply because…well, because it is all going to be so sparkling and new.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.

The change is inevitable. But it will take a long time for the roots of the place to burrow as deeply into the fabric of this ragged part of the city as those upon which this fabulous occasion was supported.

True enough, too – and without wishing to over-egg the wistfulness too much – the result fitted the long-established DNA of West Ham perfectly.

After all this, they still didn’t win, with the point rubbed home by the fact that Cheikhou Kouyate headed against the cross-bar with the very last touch of the game.

Twice, they let slip that lead as they fell victim to the unquenchable genius of Sergio Aguero, who, on this display, may virtually alone have to keep City in touch with Arsenal and the other front-runners, given the vague performances of some of the other superstars around him.

You could argue that City showed true title credentials by snatching a point from this. But you would be wrong. It was merely the individual brilliance of Aguero which did the job.

His work as he pounced on Aaron Cresswell’s mistake in the 81st minute was an exemplary demonstration of his art. And if he stays fit, well, yes, he can do that for the rest of the season and it will keep City respectable.

But in reality, this was a limp and low-key team performance.   Too many of Aguero’s team-mates – Yaya Toure stood out in this respect – quite clearly failed to match his hunger to keep going.

Then there was the debacle of poor defending from Nicolas Otamendi which allowed Valencia to score his second goal from Michail Anotinio’s throw-in in the 56th minute. 

This is a side which knows that its coach, Manuel Pellegrini, will be on his way come May. It is showing.

By contrast, West Ham’s renewed effervescence was illustrated by the fact that Valencia put them in front after just a minute.

Aguero equalised from a penalty. But if Joe Hart hadn’t pulled off a stunning save to thwart a long-free kick from Payet, West Ham would rightly have led at the break.

Again, perhaps this illustrates that City’s individuals may do enough on their own to keep them going. But it is a fragile concept in comparison with the roaring sense of drive, eagerness and togetherness which is fuelling teams like West Ham in this astonishing season.

Somewhere inside this stadium, the countdown clock is ticking. For 90 minutes here, West Ham’s supporters could kid themselves that time was standing still – and that they might revel in this kind of magic for ever.

They can’t. But they have one more, winter-burnished memory to take with them to Stratford.

West Ham chief reveals ‘exceptional’ Reece Oxford’s record breaking contract – London 24

Reece Oxford is the highest paid 17-year-old in the history of West Ham and is on the longest possible deal allowed, chairman David Gold has revealed.  The England youth international made the headlines when he made his West Ham bow on the opening day of the season in a memorable 2-0 win at Arsenal at just 16. He has gone on to make another seven appearances for West Ham and is a regular in their matchday squads while also playing for their Under-21 side. Co-chairman David Gold has spoken of his optimism that Oxford will be with the Hammers ‘for a long time’ but admits he does worry Oxford will be tempted away, despite having tied him to a two-year deal, “He is the highest-paid 17-year-old in the history of the club and has the highest signing-on fee of any 17-year-old who has ever been here,” he told the Daily Mail. “He signed for two years at the age of 17 and that’s the maximum length allowed. That can make a club who has invested in and developed a player very vulnerable and it can make you worry. “But we are optimistic he will be here for a long time. We will keep him. He is an exceptional talent.”

Slaven Bilic reveals the dressing room reaction to thrilling Manchester City draw – London 24

West Ham’s manager believes his disappointment when reaching the dressing room after their 2-2 draw with Manchester City proves how well they played. 1 Slaven Bilic saw his side go toe-to-toe with Manchester City and only a late Sergio Aguero goal stopped the Hammers doing the double over Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Cheikhou Kouyate rattled the crossbar in added time with a header and Bilic explained how the feeling when he reached the home dressing room at Upton Park was that they should have beaten City. “When we entered the dressing room the staff and myself we felt a little bit disappointed but that is good because it shows how well we’ve played,” he explained. “I am proud of the team, we were fantastic as a team and as individuals. The individuals were only cherry on the pie and the pie was the team performance. “They believe. “This league is impossible to predict, especially this season, it is so even and demanding. “Every team is good enough to beat any team. So I don’t know where it is going to take us but the more games we play like this we are going to have a chance in every game, no matter who we play.”

 

Burak Yilmaz to West Ham: Slaven Bilic leaves door open to future move for Galatasaray star – Evening Standard

Slaven Bilic has confirmed West Ham are not currently pursuing Burak Yilmaz, but suggested the club could return for the striker after seeing a bid rejected in August.

Speaking after the Hammers’ 2-2 draw with title-chasing Manchester City at Upton Park, Bilic insisted West Ham are not interested ‘at this stage’.

Galatasaray confirmed they had knocked back a West Ham bid of £3.5million for Yilmaz during the summer and reports had linked Bilic with another swoop for the 30-year-old this January.

Yilmaz has scored nine goals in 12 league starts for the Turkish club this term, including one in the defeat to Osmanlispor on Saturday, but West Ham will not yet follow up last summer’s interest as they look to seal a deal for Nigeria striker Emmanuel Emenike.

“He [Yilmaz] is a good player you know,” Bilic told reporters on Saturday.

“At the moment it is only rumours. He is a very important player for Galatasary and we are well covered in those positions.

“We are still expecting all our strikers to come back from injury in a couple of weeks time. Players like Yilmaz are always linked with clubs, not just West Ham.”

Young Norwegian gets trial with the Hammers – VG Sporten

West Ham have taken 17-year-old Norwegian prospect Sander Berge on a week-long trial from Vålerenga, confirms the Scandanavian club.

The Hammers have sent scouts to watch the teenager on several occasions, and have been impressed enough by the defensive midfielder to bring him in on trial with a view to a permanent switch.

According to Norwegian source VG Sporten, there is a “good chance” that Berge will be handed a contract with the Hammers to join them on a permanent basis. He is training this week with the first-team as well as the U21s.

Vålerenga manager Kjetil Rekdal has expressed his admiration for the teenage prodigy, but admits it will be hard to keep him for the long-term.

He is stunningly good. I hope we get to keep him, but there is no guarantee it will be long.

Berge made his debut for Vålerenga against Sandefjord in July 2015 from the bench following a move from second-tier side Asker.

West Ham already have young Norwegian prospect Martin Samuelsen on their books, who has been impressing while on loan at Peterborough this season, which could make Berge’s adjustment to life in England that much easier.

Loan Watch

Stephen Hendrie had 2 assists in an impressive performance for Southend United yesterday in their 3-0 home victory over Coventry City.

Martin Samuelsen, Reece Burke and Lewis Page all played 90 mins yesterday for Peterborough, Bradford City and Cambridge United respectively.

Diego Poyet was an unused sub for Charlton Athletic.

Elliott Lee and Kyle Knoyle did not make the matchday squads yesterday.  Lee with a slight knock and Knoyle only having met up with his new team mates at Dundee United.

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