Why West Ham's Coufal wants to 'stop' Man City and hand Arsenal title


West Ham defender Vladimir Coufal has been given an extra incentive to stop Manchester City from winning the title on Sunday, thanks to his local cafe’s Arsenal-supporting owner.

If the Hammers avoid defeat at City and Arsenal beat Everton then the Gunners will win the Premier League title – and Coufal will never have to buy a coffee again.

“I have been offered free coffee for the rest of my life!” Coufal tells Sky Sports.

The 31-year-old has been flooded with motivational messages from Arsenal supporters, with some even hoping he can finally end his West Ham goalscoring duck this weekend.


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“I have many Arsenal fans around me,” he says. “My son is playing football, so I have big Arsenal fans there.

“I received some messages from them like, ‘Your first goal in the Premier League is coming!’ and stuff like that. It would be really nice, but we will see.”

Coufal and West Ham also have the chance to help a former team-mate out, with Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice desperate for a favour from his old club whom he left last summer.

“I think he [Rice] was in touch with the English boys, but he didn’t text me!” he jokes. “He’s an Arsenal player, so he cares about Arsenal and about their performance.

West Ham United's Declan Rice (top) celebrates with team-mate Vladimir Coufal victory after the final whistle in the UEFA Europa League quarter final, second leg match at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon, France. Picture date: Thursday April 14, 2022.
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Coufal could help his ex-Hammers team-mate Declan Rice become a Premier League winner at Arsenal on Sunday

“I haven’t been in touch with anyone at Arsenal, so they have their own fight and we have ours.”

In theory, West Ham have nothing to play for on the final day of the season after their ninth-placed finish was confirmed on Wednesday night.

But the opportunity to be Kingmakers in the destination of the Premier League trophy is a unique one for Coufal, who wants to end City’s dominance as they bid for an historic fourth consecutive league title.

“I’m really excited, to be honest,” he says. “I can’t wait to see the Premier League trophy for the first time so I’m really excited, and hopefully it’s going to be a very good game.

“It’s nothing better than to have an option to decide the Premier League title. We are not considering the title, but we can decide it, so that’s good.

“It would be a great story that West Ham can cancel the Manchester City hegemony. They can be the first team to win it four times in a row, so it would be nice to stop it.”

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Speaking on The Essential Football Podcast, Peter Smith, Sam Blitz and Nick Wright assess Manchester City’s chances of holding their nerve and wrapping up the title on the final day of the Premier League season

The odds, though, of denying Manchester City are firmly stacked against the Irons.

City are unbeaten in their last 16 league games against West Ham (W13 D3), while the Hammers have lost 15 of their 17 league games at the Etihad Stadium. They are numbers Coufal is all too aware of.

“It’s probably one of the toughest places to play football,” he says. “I know we don’t have a good record there – I would say a very bad record! But this streak has to finish sometimes, and why not on Sunday?”

Coufal ‘sad’ at Moyes exit

David Moyes, West Ham
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David Moyes won the Europa Conference League trophy at West Ham

Ending their Man City hoodoo in David Moyes’ final game in charge would provide a fitting farewell for the West Ham boss after it was confirmed last week that he will leave the club at the end of the season.

“We are so happy that we gave him [Moyes] a positive send-off at home against Luton, and hopefully we will give him the same at Manchester City, but it’s going to be very, very tough,” Coufal says.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from West Ham’s win against Luton in the Premier League

“He knows this more than us, so it’s going to be difficult. But for everything he has done for the club, the players and for me personally, I would like to say goodbye in a positive way.”

Sending Moyes off in style is of particular importance to Coufal after the Scot signed the right-back from Slavia Prague in October 2020.

“I’m so grateful [to Moyes],” says Coufal. “He gave me the chance to play in the Premier League. He trusted me when I was an unknown player.

West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal celebrates with manager David Moyes after the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool.
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Coufal was signed by Moyes in October 2020

“I’ll never forget that he was my first manager in the Premier League. I played so many games for him and I tried to never disappoint him.

“It was a very tough period, especially at the beginning, because I came from a different style of football. I needed to improve my defensive positioning, so I had many meetings with him and with his coaching staff at the beginning, and it was so helpful for me.

“When I see my defensive positioning now, it’s much, much better.”

Coufal became one of Moyes’ most dependable players, having made 154 appearances in all competitions under him.

The Czech Republic international also played a key part in last year’s Europa Conference League success that saw Moyes guide the Hammers to their first major trophy in 43 years.

West Ham's Vladimir Coufal celebrates with coach David Moyes at the end of the Europa Conference League final soccer match between Fiorentina and West Ham at the Eden Arena in Prague, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. West Ham won 2-1. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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Coufal is ‘grateful’ to Moyes after three-and-a-half-years playing under the Scot

It is no surprise that Coufal is disappointed to see the 61-year-old departing.

“We experienced so many emotional memories,” he says, “and these memories will be with me forever, so of course I’m sad in some way.”

Moyes’ exit comes amid criticism from some West Ham fans over his pragmatic style of play, but Coufal is fully supportive of his methods.

“One thing what he [Moyes] taught me was that everybody cares just about the result,” Coufal says. “It doesn’t matter how you play. If we played like we play now and we won the title, everyone would be so happy, nobody would criticise us.

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Speaking on Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher and Ashley Young have their say on the news that David Moyes will leave West Ham at the end of the season

“The only thing that matters is just the result. It’s so pragmatic, but it’s true in the end. Look at Real Madrid this season, how they played at Manchester City [in the Champions League quarter-finals], but they got a result and they went through, so it’s so easy, but it’s true.”

Asked whether this results-based mentality was the reason for West Ham’s European success, he replies: “Yeah, exactly. It was just so pragmatic, but we know it doesn’t matter how we play. We just needed to get a result, especially in the final against Fiorentina. It was just one game.

West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal with the UEFA Europa Conference League Trophy following victory over Fiorentina in the UEFA Europa Conference League Final at the Fortuna Arena, Prague. Picture date: Wednesday June 7, 2023.
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Coufal helped West Ham to Europa Conference League glory in June 2023

“Maybe [in the] post-game interview, someone would care how we played, someone would remind you of your stats, but months later we now have a trophy and nobody cares how we played – if we were the better team or the worse team. It doesn’t matter. We won a trophy after 43 years and everybody was really happy.

“I think if we won this year’s title or if we got top four then everybody would be really happy, and I think the manager would extend his contract and nobody would criticise him.”

Coufal on his future: My priority is to stay at West Ham

West Ham are expected to replace Moyes with ex-Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui in the hope he can deliver a more exciting and entertaining brand of football.

But Coufal is sceptical of those supporters who crave style over substance.

Questioned how tough it will be for whoever replaces Moyes, Coufal replies: “In terms of the results, for sure.

“It’s a very tough job to take. Maybe some fans will be happy because we maybe could play more attractive football, but when you don’t get a result, nobody cares how you play.

“You can keep the ball 70 per cent of the time, you can create so many opportunities, you can score some goals but it’s not guaranteed you’ll get the result with these stats.”

The club’s change of direction will herald a new era for West Ham potentially leading to a summer of upheaval after four and a half years of stability under Moyes.

“It’s a very, very unsecure job when you are a player and the club changes the manager,” admits Coufal. “It’s like you never know what can happen. The manager can bring a lot of players he knows, and then maybe he would like to play with them. You never know as a player.”

He adds: “It’s going to be a very big change, because we knew what to expect from him [Moyes]. He knew exactly what to expect from us.

“I am a bit conservative in football, so I don’t like too many changes. I like to have my own routine and knowing what I can expect. It’s going to be something new, and we will see what’s going to happen.”

Coufal’s unease at the managerial change coincides with him entering the last year of his West Ham contract, which expires in the summer of 2025.

Coufal confirmed there had been “some talks” over a contract extension, but with nothing signed yet speculation will continue around his future, which he clearly believes is at the London Stadium.

West Ham's Vladimir Coufal, left, and George Earthy celebrate at full time after the Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between West Ham United and SC Freiburg at the London stadium in London, Thursday, March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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Coufal has made 46 appearances in all competitions this season for West Ham

“My priority, of course, is to stay at West Ham,” he admits, “because I love this club, I love the people here and the fans.

Me and my family, we’ve really got used to London. My son has school here, and my daughter will start next year.

“We’ve made new friends here, so my priority is absolutely to stay at West Ham, but we will see what happens because I have just one more year.”

If Coufal can help Arsenal win the title on Sunday then he will be even more desperate to sign a new deal so he can take full advantage of that free coffee at his local cafe.

Watch Man City vs West Ham live on Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday from 3pm; kick-off 4pm.



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