West Ham United U23 boss Terry Westley believes Friday night’s London derby against Arsenal will be the perfect chance for his Hammers squad to celebrate a successful first season at Premier League 2 Division 1 level.
The Academy Director’s outfit were promoted from Division 2 last season after an unforgettable play-off final win at Newcastle United and are on course for a top half finish in the table this campaign.
They take on London rivals Arsenal at London Stadium on Friday evening in their final match of the season, and Westley is looking forward to his players celebrating, with the supporters, their terrific year.
He said: “Ultimately, Friday is to congratulate the boys on how well they have done this season. In the end, we are not scrapping around at the bottom trying to get a point and survive; we have 31 points so far and we are safe in the division, which is a terrific achievement.
“We’ve played some really attractive football this season and we’ve done all of that with a very young team, too. We’ve allowed others to go out on loan, and Friday is the chance for supporters to come and see the kind of football we’ve played all year and to see how well these players have done.
Friday is to congratulate the boys on how well they have done this season. We are safe in the division and that is a terrific achievement
The Gunners currently sit top of the table – eight points better off than West Ham – but will be desperate to end their campaign with a win to ensure the title goes back to north London.
Liverpool, in second and two points behind, face Chelsea while third place Leicester City are also within touching distance – three points behind Arsenal but with an identical goal difference, meaning all is to play for on the final day.
The Hammers were beaten in their penultimate fixture on Monday – away at Derby County – but Westley is hoping his team can recover from the setback to claim maximum points at the Club’s London Stadium home.
“Derby had a lot resting on the game on Monday,” he continued, “and ultimately that probably showed. They needed a win to survive and you could see with the team they put out how important the game was for them.
“We didn’t quite start with the same edge and intensity that had got us wins in the last three away from home [against Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton] and the end result [when that happens] is that you get beat.
“But we had chances and on another day could have got something from the game. We didn’t, but now we need to make sure that we go into Friday’s game sharp from the start and give the fans at the Stadium something to cheer.”
Please note that if travelling to the game on Friday, Pudding Mill Lane station will not be in use due to the DLR strike that day. Supporters are advised to use alternative routes.
Supporters who are Season Ticket Holders and/or Claret Members can attend Friday’s Premier League 2 match, which kicks off at 7pm, for free. Click here to book your seat.
Otherwise, tickets are priced at £5 and £3 for adults and concessions respectively. Click here to book your seat.