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Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
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Irish Hammer 6:07 Wed Nov 10
Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Moyes must come up with plan to deal with loss of influential Ogbonna

Tales of Marlon Harewood’s agonising late miss in the 2006 FA Cup final often end with the former West Ham United striker reminding people he had sustained a broken foot during the game.

Regardless of the possible long-term consequences, Harewood was determined to finish that match against Liverpool, hobbling around the pitch even through 30 minutes of extra time before West Ham’s eventual defeat in a penalty shootout (unsurprisingly, considering his medical status, he didn’t take one).

Before Sunday’s 3-2 Premier League win over the same club, Harewood was interviewed pitchside at the London Stadium by presenter Chris Scull. He asked about that agonising slice wide from close-range in Cardiff, and got reminded how the foot injury was a contributing factor.

Such levels of unselfishness are why Harewood remains a fan favourite over 14 years after his last appearance for the club, and the willingness to play through the pain barrier he showed that day is something current West Ham player Angelo Ogbonna is also all too familiar with.

Early in the 2016-17 season, Ogbonna wanted to address a longstanding knee injury. Due to a shortage of defensive options, West Ham’s then-manager Slaven Bilic asked him to delay having the necessary operation. The fact Ogbonna had no qualms about temporarily putting it off for the benefit of the club highlights the kind of team player he is.

The Italy international would eventually receive the green light to get surgery, following the signing of Jose Fonte from Southampton in January 2017. “I have to praise Angelo Ogbonna because he has played the whole season with an injury,” said Bilic at the time. “He needs an operation on his knee to be fit long-term, and it was supposed to be a couple of weeks but we asked him to play a couple more games.”

“Angelo has shown his commitment to the club by playing with the injury for a while now, and we thank him for that,” added co-chairman David Sullivan.

The operation meant Ogbonna effectively missed the remainder of that season, only returning for the final game — and it is likely he will be sidelined for a prolonged period now having damaged an ACL against Liverpool. The 33-year-old clutched his right knee after trying to track a Mohamed Salah run in the first half. Following initial treatment, he left the field with two members of West Ham’s medical staff.

But the most telling sign of Ogbonna’s grit and commitment is the fact he came back on and continued to play.

His eventual substitution on 22 minutes was not because of the knee problem but an elbow to the face from Liverpool’s Diogo Jota. Manager David Moyes was told it would take 10 minutes to stitch Ogbonna up, so opted to bring on Craig Dawson. The Italian would later jog down the tunnel covering his right eye.

Declan Rice took to social media on Tuesday morning to salute his team-mate’s after the club confirmed the ACL diagnosis.

Ogbonna himself tweeted: “Unfortunately my knee forces me to take a break and return ASAP to fight with you. Of course, I am devastated I can’t continue our battle from the field, but, as a fighter, I’ll be back and until my return, I’ll be supporting the team in this truly special year. See you soon guys.”

His contract expires at the end of this season, though West Ham have the option to extend it by a year. The Athletic understands they will exercise this in the event it is a lengthy injury lay-off to support Ogbonna’s recovery. It is a gesture of goodwill and one that shows how much he is appreciated at the club.

Indeed, Ogbonna has been a dependable player since joining from Juventus in the summer of 2015 for a reported fee of £10 million, having helped the Turin giants win the Italian double the previous season.

He has made 202 cup and league appearances for West Ham, scoring 13 goals, and was runner-up in the voting for the club’s player-of-the-season award for the 2019-20 season. In six-plus years in east London, only in that injury-curtailed 2016-17 season has Ogbonna made fewer than 29 appearances across all competitions, evidence of how reliable he has been for managers Bilic, Moyes, Manuel Pellegrini and now Moyes again.

A club source told The Athletic: “Losing Ogbonna is a massive blow. He carried on playing (on Sunday), we didn’t think it would be that bad. We’re thinking of next season already. It’s bad news. Tactically, he is brilliant — a typical Italian. He organises, communicates and understands the game well.”

Ogbonna had started all 11 of West Ham’s league games this season, forming a solid centre-back partnership with summer signing Kurt Zouma and scoring the winner against Everton last month. While he has already started a programme of recovery at the club’s training ground, his spell on the sidelines presents Dawson and Issa Diop with opportunities to impress.

Before Zouma arrived from Chelsea, Moyes’ preferred defensive partnership was Ogbonna and Dawson. A struggle for form led to the latter to lose his place but since that setback, Dawson has quietly impressed in victories over Manchester City, Manchester United — where he was named man of the match — and Genk. His career-long knack for scoring with headers makes him a threat at set pieces.

Dawson has played in 13 games in all competitions this season, starting four Premier League games, while Diop has only made six appearances and none in the league. With Ogbonna now out, Dawson is expected to start Premier League matches, while Diop will get his chance in the other competitions.

When Tomas Soucek sustained an eye injury in that win at Goodison Park that forced him off with 11 minutes to go, Moyes brought on Dawson rather than Diop as West Ham fought to maintain their 1-0 lead.

With Angelo Ogbonna out injured, Craig Dawson is expected to start more Premier League games for West Ham (Photo: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Yet Diop has also caught the eye at times this season. In the 1-0 Carabao Cup win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in September, he nullified Anthony Martial and made seven clearances — the most by any player in the match. He also impressed a week earlier in the 2-0 Europa League win away to Dinamo Zagreb.

Moyes has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation this season but could switch to a three-man back line with wing-backs following Ogbonna’s injury.

Aaron Cresswell has thrived in the latter system, with eight assists in the league. However, going to a 5-4-1 would mean the loss of an attacking player, and with Pablo Fornals, Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma all in such excellent form, dropping any of them would be harsh.

Ogbonna’s is the first serious injury a West Ham player has sustained for quite some time.

But last season, the losses of midfielder Rice (six games in April and May) and striker Michail Antonio (eight games pre-Christmas and three more in April) arguably prevented the club finishing in the top four to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

Following their impressive win over Liverpool, many felt this international break had come at the wrong time for West Ham.

But the welcome period of rest for the club’s non-internationals before the busy Christmas programme also gives Moyes and his staff time to plan how to deal with losing the hugely influential Ogbonna.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

arsene york-hunt 12:16 Fri Nov 12
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
That Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk looked pretty decent the other night, in fact he prevented a rout. Maybe we could put in a bid for him.

Mex Martillo 8:27 Fri Nov 12
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Not long before Ogbonna got injured Moyes said he wanted to sign another CB to challenging the CBs to improve. With our new share holder we will be in the market for signing a CB in Jan.
Thanks Irish

Sydney_Iron 5:33 Fri Nov 12
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
⚒️ 6:10 Wed Nov 10


*Swims past bait

the exile 11:50 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I agree with Steady - apart from Genk away Diop has looked good this season. No worries about him.

gph 11:19 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Pretty sure Rice could do a good job at CB, but he'd be missed too much in his proper role.

It's an option, but one for emergencies only.

chim chim cha boo 9:00 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I love watching Angelo play. I'd call him a warrior but he makes defending look so simple that it never gets to the point of war from watching him from the stands.

He's a big part of why we're doing so well and wish him a speedy recovery.

Texas Iron 8:56 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna


Steady 8:09 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I’d play Diop, he needs a run of games to give him a chance and thought he looked good barring Genk away

Chigwell 7:53 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Diop has had plenty of chances to secure a regular first- team place, but has failed to do so. Dawson, thought by many to be at the end of his PL career, has done a lot better than him. Ogbonna's injury is maybe the last chance that Diop has to prove that he is worth his contract, but I don't think he will because he is quite slow in movement and thought.

the exile 7:51 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I don't agree that we need to get a new CB in January. Time to give minutes off the bench to Alese or Baptiste. By

Russ of the BML 6:50 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
In the short term Dawson plays with Zouma and Diop is in reserve. Rice can play there in an emergency.

But now in Jan we need a striker and a CB.

Capitol Man 5:59 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Depends how long he’s out for - there’s been varying accounts hasn’t there?

May not be many available options in the window as well. We have decent replacements - though not quite at the same level.

twoleftfeet 5:53 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Great idea to put Rice to CB.

Then I'd put Antonio at right back and Mark Noble up front and for good measure I'd put David Martin in goal.

Block 5:34 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
⚒️ 6:10 Wed Nov 10


We have Dawson and Diop, we've got plenty of cover.

Darby_ 5:33 Thu Nov 11
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I can't see the point of putting Declan back in defense. If you want to play Kral, give either Rice or Soucek a rest. It's going to be a long season for those two.

Diop and Dawson have almost been as good as Oggy this season.

Takashi Miike 6:12 Wed Nov 10
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
he wants to move the best central midfielder in the league to CB, what a cock

RBshorty 6:11 Wed Nov 10
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
Cheers Irish.

Reckon a cut price offer for Tarkowski in January is on the cards.?

⚒️ 6:10 Wed Nov 10
Re: Article - Moyes needs a plan to replace Ogbonna
I’d put Rice at CB and bring Noble/Kral into midfield.

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