Beware The New Dev!

Tony Gale has warned West Ham to beware the new Alan Devonshire on Saturday.

"The main danger from Arsenal, in my opinion, comes down the left hand side," says Tony.

"Robert Pires is a super player, the man who makes Arsenal play, and he has to be watched very closely on that left hand side.

"He is a double for Alan Devonshire - right footed but playing on the left hand side, he goes past players on the inside and the outside, and is a super passer of the ball."

Thierry Henry, meanwhile, is 14-1 joint favourite to score the first goal of the afternoon - the Premiership's 10,000th since its inception in 1992.

But Tony says: "Perhaps Paolo might be worth a quid or two because at least we know he is playing - and he takes the penalties!"

Tony sees the tempo of the first few minutes as giving vital clues to how the game will go, and he adds: "It is key to start as we did against Chelsea because if we let them sit on the ball and dictate the pace of the game we are asking for trouble.

"We have beaten two of the so-called big five now, Chelsea and Manchester United, so let's hope we can get Arsenal's scalp by coming out of the blocks really firing.

"We got two up and in the end probably needed that to win the Chelsea game.

"It was a poor start against Aston Villa but this is a different type of game and I think the crowd will be more up for it, and behind the lads from the start."

There is a further capacity increase for this game, which is likely to be a sell out, and Tony adds: "I was impressed with the atmosphere for the Tottenham game although it got a little bit of criticism, but with the bottom tier open now it is getting better and better."

But against Aston Villa, there was considerable booing at half time and Tony comments: "Everybody gets frustrated and people were looking at that game as a banker three points, which is a bit unfair, ahead of a difficult month and four difficult games.

"But it is just like football to go to Man United, maybe not expecting much, and getting three points having drawn against Villa."

Tony feels sure that Fredi Kanoute will be restored to the side now that he is fit again, but admits it is a difficult choice for the manager.

He says: "It is a conundrum. Only Glenn knows, but he has either got to leave Jermain or Paolo out because I believe Fredi may come back in.

"He was really coming into some form before he got injured and I think we have to start with him.

"Jermain is looking better and better when he plays games and Paolo, a big crowd favourite, is good when he turns it on, particularly at Upton Park.

"He has got a problem a lot of managers would like but I think playing all three would mean disrupting the midfield, so I would say he has probably got to play two from the three."

Of the win at Old Trafford, he says: "I must admit I couldn't see it coming. I was really fearing that we might get a backlash from Manchester United, but I don't think they treated us with the utmost respect to be honest.

"They left out a few players, although that is not an excuse for us winning because I think we deserved to - it was a fabulous result.

"Last time we beat them in the league was at the beginning of the 1986-87 season, just a few months after we had beaten them in the FA Cup, and we've done it the same way this time round.

"Once we got through that early bit without conceding it was always going to be a problem for them because there is a little bit of unrest down there.

"In hindsight, which is what all managers would love a degree in, Alex Ferguson would have changed it.

"But it doesn't detract from the win at all and the subtle changes Glenn made with Joe in the middle, Don on the right, and Trevor on the left worked really well.

"Don prefers playing in the middle but he doesn't have to stick himself right out wide - he played for Sunderland in that position and they played narrower.

"I kept seeing Glenn going down to the touchline at Manchester United and telling the boys to tuck in, to play a little bit narrower.

"That way, it ends up like a diamond system, and I think he may continue with that against Arsenal who, in my opinion, are championship favourites and absolutely buzzing at the moment."

Tony admits, however, that if any more injuries are sustained it could prove a real blow.

"If we did have an injury in midfield, the system could be changed slightly with the three strikers," he says.

"But defensively we still look thin on the ground; one or two injuries there and we are really struggling.

"The squad needs strengthening, there is no doubt about it, and I think it is about strengthening the team, not just the squad.

"It was a great win against Manchester United but it shouldn't cloud the issue that we need to add players."