View from the opposition: West Ham fan on Norwich’s chances at Upton Park today
- Credit: Submitted
The EDP's Norwich City photographer Paul Chesterton, of Focus Images, gives the inside track on his team West Ham.
• What have you made of West Ham's start to the season?
I'm still not over the way we gave up on the Europa League. I was looking forward to experiencing a few away days in Europe photographing the Hammers and got a taste for it with a visit to Andorra for the first qualifying round. It was only the fifth European campaign in my lifetime so I certainly wanted it to last longer. The incredible result at Arsenal on the opening day may have vindicated the decision temporarily, but then home losses against Leicester and Bournemouth nullified that. Then we go and win at Anfield and the Etihad so what do I know? For once I was glad a Norwich match was on a Sunday as it gave me a chance to watch the win at Man City with my two sons as fans and we had a great day.
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• Is there a big difference to how the Hammers are playing at home and away?
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I'm starting to think there is. We have pace in the team and that suits a counter-attacking style against strong home opposition. When Andy Carroll is back to full fitness that should add another dimension to our play as well.
• Has the decision to appoint Slaven Bilic already been vindicated?
I was quite on the fence and have been waiting to see if the results and, just as important, the performances improve. He seems to have galvanised the dressing room and created a never-say-die team spirit. He also seems to have introduced some steel judging by the amount of red cards we have received already.
• Who do you expect to be the hosts' star man?
I hope the new fan favourite Dimitri Payet carries on his good early season form. He was a little quiet at the Etihad but then that was to be expected as we were on the back foot for 90pc of that match. Or at least it certainly felt like it. I'm excited to see we also have good options up front now with Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and Nikica Jelavic all being decent options.
• Is the shadow of the Olympic Stadium already looming large?
Ah, the elephant in the room... I'm one of those Hammers fans who is dead against the move. I fully understand the reasons, but call me a traditionalist or (as one of my lads calls me) a dinosaur, but I'm really sad about leaving the Boleyn. I first went there with my dad in 1970 and before that my granddad (who also went to the 1923 FA Cup final) and my uncle (who was at Wembley when we won the European Cup Winners Cup) were regular visitors. I have taken both my sons (and my daughter, once) over the years so you can see Upton Park has a lot of sentimentality attached to it for me. I've been lucky over the years to visit grounds like Highbury and Maine Road and although both their new stadiums are impressive I prefer the old school feel to their original homes.
• Which Canaries players will home fans be most wary of?
When Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond are in full flow and terrorising the defenders that will scare the home fans. Goals are starting to happen for the Norwich forwards now and I hope the West Ham defence keep the free-scoring Russell Martin tightly marked at corners.
• He can't play in this game but have you been surprised by Matt Jarvis's bright start to his City loan spell?
Very surprised but also very pleased as he's given me two great goals and celebrations to photograph. I had high hopes for Matt when he came to West Ham with his good reputation but it never really happened for him under Big Sam.
• Do you think Norwich are on course for a successful season?
I was concerned at the start of the season but Alex Neil has proved again what an excellent manager he really is. My one worry is I can't see a 15-20 goals a season man in the Norwich team and hope they can carry on scoring goals from all over the pitch. A lot depends for me on whether Lewis Grabban can step up to the plate in the Premier League. Another important player in my books is Jonny Howson – if he stays free of injury then I see nothing but a good solid season for Norwich and hopefully a cup run (or two).
• And finally, what is your score prediction?
I really can't call this one at all so I will hedge my bets and go for a high scoring draw – maybe 2-2? I certainly see both sides scoring. I will be treating it as possibly my last match at the Boleyn as well, as I can never be sure that City's fixtures will give me the chance to pop along to Upton Park one last time as a fan before it's gates are closed forever. #COYI #OTBC