This could be considered the first leg of a double header with a place at Wembley and Premiership survival at stake.
Yet again, another freezing cold day, which i must admit is starting to get a bit wearing. But there was warmth in the hammers fans outlook, after our magnificant victory against Liverpool the previous week.
I watched Stoke – West Brom last monday, and thought that we should win easily as long as we keep it down and play our own style. The WBA game was one of the worst adverts for EPL football I have seen recently, and it was my conclusion was that a normally free flowing West Brom, tried to play Stoke at their own game, and it became a war of attrition.
Obviously thinking along the same lines, Uncle Avram had a regig to combat their most incisive weapon, the long throw. He played 3 centre backs in a flat back four, with James Tomkins replacing Jacobsen at right back.
Apart from the odd drift inwards, this worked well.Two other strategic changes also improved WHU’s chances against the stokies. One, playing 3 big lads up front. This kept Robert Huth busy with CC, and allowed Ba and big Freddie to drift in and out. Two, the WHU team appeared to be under instruction to take every free kick and throw in as quick as possible, to stop Stoke organising themselves against these dead ball situations. Something they are very good at.
Both changes and instructions gave Stoke very little time to organise and forced them into mistakes. The first major one was after 22 minutes when a speculative through ball from Noble prompted a “no, after you” situation between centre back and goalkeeper,the outcome of which gave Demba Ba his fourth goal in three starts.
6 minutes later Di Costa further cemeneted his place in the first team by rising well at the far post to nod the second in from a Hitzelsperger free kick. A couple of the guys i speak to over at the game, said they are amazed how much air he does get with his jumping, and after watching the replays on sky this morning i have to agree. there is definitley a Jordanesque quality to his aerial ability.
With the score at half time being 2-0, the game was all but over. The second half was not much to write home about, a few missed chances for both sides and an overall resignation that all the real game had happened in the first half.
With 7 minutes of normal time to go, Scotty makes a fantastic run down the right and into the box, to cut back a pass to big Freddie how hits it against the keeper. But it bounces out to Der Hammer who rockets one in from 8 yards, that without the net to stop it, could be in orbit around the ISS about now.
So now its 3-0, 6 points from the last two games, and + 5 for the GD. This pushes us out of the bottom 3 , as brum get bashed by WBA. According to my predictions we now only need 5 points out of 9 games. I may have to review this after brum have played their two games in hand.
Next week its part two of the Stoke – WHU world series (TM). A place at Wembley beckons. Before yesterdays game, we would of taken a win yesterday at expense of the cup, but we all left yesterday thinking another win next week is almost guaranteed. Time will tell.
Talking of leaving yesterday, idiots of the week award goes to the Met Police. Post the game we took our usual route via the back of the chicken run, and past the away exit. The police have cordened of this route and were directing WHU through the park. No probs, but there appeared to be some “light hearted banter” between the fans, that without the park fence could of been more interesting. So we walk into the park, and leave by the next exit so we can continue along our normal route. This takes us to ……….you guessed it…….. straight to the back of the Stoke fans behind the corden. Good call the Met………..