Derby memories inspire Dyer

Evening Standard reporter and lifelong West Ham United fan Ken Dyer believes the Hammers need to look to the past for inspiration ahead of Saturday's trip to Arsenal.

Dyer was in the Press Box when Alan Taylor inspired West Ham to a 2-0 FA Cup sixth-round win at the Gunners' old Highbury home in March 1975.

A little more than five years later, the respected correspondent was again on hand as Trevor Brooking headed the Hammers to FA Cup glory in an unforgettable final at Wembley.

With those memories still fresh in his mind, Dyer has called on the club's modern-day players to emulate Taylor and Brooking by firing West Ham to a vital Barclays Premier League success at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

"It is always special when we play against Arsenal. The Emirates is a fantastic stadium, but Highbury was always a special place to go as well. It had history all over the place.

"I remember back in 1975, I had been away for several months in Australia before I came back for the FA Cup quarter-final. It poured down with rain all day, but the game went ahead and Alan Taylor scored the only goal of the game. 'Sparrow' was on one of those runs that players go on and it went right through to the final, when he scored twice in our 2-0 win over Fulham at Wembley.

"Arsenal had John Radford playing for them that day and Mervyn Day brought him down for a cast-iron penalty, but the referee didn't give it - we could certainly do with some of that sort of luck this weekend."

"Five years later, we famously took on Arsenal in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Back in those days, I was lucky enough to travel with the team on the bus, which was a real privilege. After the game, John Lyall invited me down to the dressing room and, as you can imagine, the atmosphere and celebrations going on in there were something to behold.

"After we had beaten them, I was among the small group of journalists invited to attend a special reception at a swanky London hotel in the evening. I remember the FA Cup was there and myself and my wife had our picture taken with the trophy - that was a nice moment."

Dyer believes West Ham's two meetings with Arsene Wenger's side this season should add to the confidence within Gianfranco Zola's squad.

The Hammers battled back from a 2-0 half-time deficit at the Boleyn Ground on 25 October to snatch a share of the spoils in the reverse league fixture. Then, on 3 January, Alessandro Diamanti put the hosts ahead in the pair's FA Cup third-round meeting, only for Arsenal to score two late goals to put the east Londoners out of the competition.

"We have given Arsenal a couple of good games this season, but we have yet to beat them. We came back from two goals down in the league and could have got the better of them in the FA Cup, when we went ahead before being undone by two late goals.

"The thing about playing the modern-day Arsenal team that maybe suits us is that they try to pass the ball. We play better against teams that move the ball and sometimes over-elaborate, rather than teams that get the ball forward quickly and play a more direct style.

"Arsenal create a lot of chances but, like a lot of the better teams, they do give you an opportunity, and we've got to take it when it comes."