The 61st annual West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway in aid of the Academy will take place this evening at the Intercontinental London – The O2 Hotel and with 11 awards up for grabs on the night, including Hammer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year, we tell you who we think will claim each coveted accolade.
Hammer Of The Year Award: Marko Arnautovic
Surely the favourite to take the most prestigious Award of the evening is club-record signing and Austrian International forward Marko Arnautovic, who’s highlights this season have included racking up 10 goals so far in all competitions and playing a key part in the Hammers’ revival under David Moyes.
However, he is not the only man in the running to receive the prize from last year’s winner Michail Antonio, who has been left frustrated by an injury-warped season this time around, with the likes of defender Angelo Ogbonna, veteran Pablo Zabaleta and last year’s Young Hammer of the Year Declan Rice all undoubtedly in with a shout.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Ken Brown
Following on from Hammers legend Bobby Moore picking up this Award a year ago, which honours an Irons great from the past for their lifetime devotion to the club in the past and the present, a player from Moore’s era Ken Brown is the recipient.
The 84-year-old won the 1957/1958 Second Division title, the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup during his time as a player in East London and will be presented the award In person as special guest at tonight’s ceremony, which will be presented by Ben Shepherd and Alvin Martin.
Best Individual Performance Award: Declan Rice vs Tottenham Hotspur (A) (PL)
The aforementioned Rice may be in the running for a few other awards on the evening and a favourite to collect the most silverware, but one of his best hopes will come in the Best Individual Performance of the Season category, honouring a certain player in a certain game.
The 19-year-old was drafted in to start a tricky London derby trip to face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium in early January and was awarded Man of the Match for his flawless defensive performance in a 1-1 draw, other contenders include Arnautovic’s showings in the home win over Southampton and away thrashing of Stoke City and Huddersfield Town.
Best Team Performance Award: vs Huddersfield Town (A)
This award recognises the Best Team Performance of the Season be it an emphatic win or heroic comeback, last year being won by a Carabao Cup London derby victory over Chelsea, but this year, could well return to being a Premier League performance.
The ruthless and barbaric display of counter-attacking football at the John Smith’s Stadium in January resulting in a 1-4 romp remains the joint-biggest away triumph of the Moyes era so far and for intensity and level of display, without doubt, deserves the award, although it may be trumped by a comeback win over Spurs in the League Cup or the 0-3 and 3-0 victories over Stoke and the Saints.
Players’ Player Of The Year Award: Pablo Zabaleta
Arguably the most sought-after Award for a player in the ceremony is this one as earning the respect of your peers is understood to be one of the most important things to a star in the professional game and this year, the much-respected Zabaleta is in pole position.
Midfield playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who has also been cursed by his success last season and endured an injury-packed campaign, narrowly missed out on the HotY to collect this award in May 2017, but for his professionalism, passion and energy on and off the field, a slightly older choice is expected this season, however, don’t rule out names such as Arnautovic, skipper Mark Noble, Rice and Ogbonna.
Goal Of The Season Award: Pedro Obiang vs Tottenham Hotspur (A) (PL)
Much like the 2016/2017 campaign, when Andy Carroll’s acrobatic effort against Crystal Palace at the London Stadium in the PL was a standout choice, supporters have been presented with yet another nailed-on strike this term for Goal of the Season.
Pedro Obiang’s stunning drive into the top corner from over 30 yards out in the beforementioned league stalemate with Sours at Wembley clearly tops anything else seen under either Slaven Bilic or Moyes over the course of the season, though there are a few outsiders here, watch out for Arnautovic volleys against Huddersfield and Southampton and a Joao Mario firecracker in that same match in Stratford.
Save Of The Season Award: Joe Hart vs Chelsea (A)
Many top stops have been produced by Joe Hart and Adrian San-Miguel this term as the pair have shared the gloves at different stages, but for the second year in succession, despite making many excellent, Adrian looks set to miss out on this Award.
Hart’s save to deny substitute Olivier Giroud a last-gasp headed winner in a draw with Antonio Conte’s Blues at Stamford Bridge earlier in April looks to be the front-runner for this keeper’s Award, although honourable mentions do have to go to tremendous saves such as Hart to deny Timothy Fosu-Mensah away at Crystal Palace in the PL and any one of several from Adrian in the narrow defeat to champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Signing Of The Season Award: Marko Arnautovic
In contrast to last term, there is plenty of competition for this prize, won by Swiss International Edimilson Fernandes last time out, but, should Arnautovic pick up the top Award, one would feel that this Award will surely go his way as well.
Arnautovic’s rise to becoming a fan favourite in Claret & Blue has been meteoric despite a slow start to life at London Stadium, for consistency reasons, Zabaleta must also be considered and Javier Hernandez and his eight league goals for the season, January arrival Joao Mario on loan from Inter Milan also can’t be forgotten in this category.
Top Goalscorer Of The Season Award: Marko Arnautovic
One of the more obvious Awards of the night and one that was also picked up by Antonio for his 2016/2017 tally of nine goals is the Top Goalscorer, as it currently stands with four matches remaining, Arnautovic will take this one home with him.
The Austrian sits two strikes ahead of his nearest challenger Chicharito who has eight goals, Arnautovic reached double-figures in Sunday afternoon’s league loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, two behind Hernandez is Andre Ayew, unlikely to make a late charge at Arnautovic on account of the fact that he now plays for Swansea City, this one should be the former Stoke man’s.
Young Hammer Of The Year Award: Declan Rice
The only man being tipped to retain an Award on the evening is the young Irishman, having charged home to victory in this category last season by leading West Ham’s U23s to promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1 as skipper.
This season, however, Rice has played much of his football in the senior side and flourished, making 23 appearances in the Premier League at the tender age of 19 and earning his first senior call-up and start for the Republic of Ireland national team in the process, he will take some beating to this Award once again.
Dylan Tombides Award: Nathan Trott
This award is traditionally the first to be handed out of the ceremony and was recently renamed to honour West Ham Academy product Dylan Tombides, who passed away due to testicular cancer four years ago aged just 20, and recognises the best player for the Academy that season.
Bermuda-born goalkeeper Nathan Trott has been a model of consistency in the PL2 for the Hammers Development Squad since the start of the season, helping them to finish fifth in their first campaign in Division 1 and featured for England U19s and England U20s, teammates Toni Martinez, Marcus Browne and Nathan Holland, among others, have all shone in burst but spent much of the last few months out injured or away on loan.
So, now that you’ve been given the full lowdown on what Awards will be handed out and who will win them according to West Ham Matters, want to find out if our predictions are correct at tonight’s ceremony in East London? Join us once again tomorrow for a full review of the 2017/2018 West Ham United Player Awards.