The 61st annual West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway in aid of the Academy will be held this evening at the Intercontinental London – O2 Hotel, nine different awards will be dished out amongst David Moyes’ first-team squad, but after an up and down 2017/2018 campaign so far, who will leave with the most awards on the night?
Baaing the Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be given to legendary Hammers defender Ken Browne, the Dylan Tombides Award for best Academy Player of the season, the Young Hammer of the Year and Save of the Season, one would struggle to find an individual award this man hasn’t got a fair chance of winning.
Joining last summer from Stoke City for a club record fee and getting off to a slow start in Claret & Blue, Marko Arnautovic has hit the ground running in recent months, scoring ten Premier League goals in his last 16 matches, making him a Hammer of the Year front-runner.
His ten strikes have also placed him at the top of the scoring chart for the campaign, two ahead of Javier Hernandez, meaning he will collect the Top Goalscorer accolade, providing there aren’t any late heroics from Chicharito.
Of his double-figures total, many have been outstanding efforts, including stunning volleys in away wins over former club Stoke City and Huddersfield Town in the league and in the home win over Arsenal, placing him into the Goal of the Season running.
Signing of the Season would undoubtedly come with HotY if he manages it and Individual Performance of the Season can’t be ruled out for such displays as in the aforementioned Potters, Terries and Saints victories, he has also managed four assists over the course of the term, surely making him popular enough amongst his teammates for Players’ Player of the Season, watch out for the Arnautovic clean-sweep.
A man many believe to be second favourite for the Hammer of the Year is Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna, who could also pick up numerous other Awards, although if there was a Most Improved Player, it would undoubtedly be his.
The Italy International has forced his way back into the national team of his country with his efforts this season as he has arguably enjoyed his best term to date in Claret & Blue.
It has certainly been his highest-scoring so far with three goals, all of them coming in the form of headers, two in the Carabao Cup against Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur and one against the PL Champions Manchester City in a loss at the Etihad Stadium.
While he is unlikely to catch Arnautovic in the goal-scoring standings, he may well edge him to the premier Award of the night with his longevity and consistency at the back this campaign, which also places him firmly into the running for Players’ Player.
Ogbonna has played nearly every minute of the Moyes era so far and contributed to many clean sheets and positive defensive performances, a key component of this has been being able to stay fit for most of the season and hold down a starting position at the back, he would be the first defender since Aaron Cresswell in 2014/2015 to win big at the ceremony.
Another defender who has impressed wildly and in many different ways this season is the veteran Pablo Zabaleta, if an Award was handed out on the night for minutes spent on the pitch then he would triumph in it with flying colours.
But, there isn’t, although this doesn’t scupper his chances of leaving the Intercontinental London O2 Hotel’s Arora Ballroom with some crystal as there are as many as four Awards that he stands a fair chance of winning.
Signing of the Season is one of them as the 34-year-old has proved that age is just a number since joining on a free from City at the beginning of last summer, missing just one league match through suspension and performing consistently throughout the season.
The only disappointment for Zabaleta will be that he hasn’t managed to score a goal thus far, although what he has done is put in some standout displays, including in matches such as London derby wins over Chelsea and Tottenham, Best Individual Performance could well await.
In our West Ham United Player Awards Predictions article earlier today, we predicted the former Argentina International to claim the Players’ Player of the Season Award as he is clearly held in high regard by his peers, but his form this campaign surely can’t be too far off Hammer of the Year standard, can it?
One of the real success stories of a tricky 2017/2018 season so far has been 19-year-old Declan Rice and his somewhat astronomical rise to prominence in the East Londoners’ first-team, showing maturity and on-field displays not uncanny of a player ten years his senior.
Rice is in pole position to collect the Young Hammer of the Year for the second term in succession for his 23 Premier League appearances this campaign, more than half of them coming as starts and also earning a first call-up to the Republic of Ireland national team in the process, making his debut in a friendly defeat to Turkey.
The charge, who has earned plaudits from throughout the footballing world in the last several months, is also one of the front-runners for Best Individual Performance of the Season for his Man of the Match showing against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium in the league.
In that match, Rice helped to largely keep a world-class Spurs attack, including the likes of Harry Kane at bay, holding them to a 1-1 draw, many of his teammates have publicly praised his demeanour on and off the pitch recently, Ogbonna and goalkeeper Joe Hart being examples, which could be a possible hint for Players’ Player.
However, more ambitiously, some have suggested that the versatile youngster, who can play either in defence or midfield, could be the first ever-player to pick up the Young and Hammer of the Year in the sane ceremony, this would be some way to cap off a ground-breaking season for the man with a bright future.
Joining from Bayer Leverkusen for a hefty fee in last summer’s transfer window, it has been a first season of mixed emotions for Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer, but at the end of it, he is being tipped to pick up an Award.
The statistics are the most telling for Chicharito as he has been clinical in front of goal this season with eight Premier League goals, a total that could have and probably should have been a lot more had his season not been interrupted by illness and injury so often.
“The Little Pea” still has a realistic chance of beating Arnautovic to the top Goalscorer Award over the last four matches, but will still have to score at least three goals, two of the reaming games being against teams with some of the best defences in the league in Manchester United and the Citizens.
While Signing of the Season, Players’ Player and Hammer of the Year are still a possibility for the Mexican, if you forget Pedro Obiang’s firecracker against Tottenham Hotspur in early January, Hernandez would be right up there for Goal of the Season.
His strike in the league defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion and cute finish to grab a point vital away at Chelsea in the league are still contending, and in terms of Best Individual Performance, his goals have been crucial in winning and drawing certain matches, so it will be interesting for many to see just how close he comes.
So, now that you’ve heard the five Hammers most likely to be successful at tonight’s West Ham United Play Awards, do you want to find out if these players do indeed manage to pick up the most Awards? Well, find out with us and our full review of the annual event tomorrow afternoon, here on West Ham Matters.