After our win over Man City, most WHU fans were thinking that the next 2 games against Stoke and Villa should be 6 points and our top 4 status should be secure. However, old skool heads knew better, and those thoughts were realised after our draw at Stoke (albeit from 2 nil down), and another 1 point game with our 0-0 against Villa yesterday. Last year we would of lost by 3 or 4 at Stoke and maybe could of thrown away the valuable point late on yesterday. Let’s not forget this point moved us back into the top 4 (without at this time knowing the Arsenal result). These results have been recognised with Sam getting Manager of the Month for October and Diafra Sakho getting Player of the Month.
Villa are a team in trouble, and played that way. They spent the last half hour wasting time and if it wasn’t for some great goalkeeping would of lost to our last few minutes onslaught of their goal from the returning Andy Carroll.
WHU played the whole game in control with Downing (congrats on the England call up) and Song running the game from start to finish. The introduction of Carroll was immense, and if he had come in for longer (eg when Cole came on), we would of got a win. However that wasn’t to be and we have to learn that teams respect us more these days and sometimes we will be up against spoiling tactics. That all said some players need to take a look at themselves. Kouyate for example, is a player that prior to his injury had been a Diame with the ability to surge forwards and link up play. His introduction back in yesterday for Amalfitano (who was poor against Stoke) was welcomed but he really didn’t deliver. Against a tight midfield, he was ineffective and looked a shadow of the guy who started the season. In fact, he looked like Diame !
The one worry for me, was that with Valencia and Sahko not firing yesterday, we ended the game with Cole, Nolan and Carroll on the pitch. Will Sam start to revert to these tactics that saw him vilified last season if we go on a run of draws and losses? We will have to wait and see.
Carroll as previously mentioned looked immense when he came on. In the 5 minutes he played, he had 2 chances saved by Guzan . I think he will be introduced in longer spells moving forwards, and the upcoming International break will help with his recuperation.
Our next two games are away to Everton and home to Newcastle. Neither will be easy ,and will be a good bell weather for our finishing position for the season. But we cannot deny, that with a fully fit squad we should now be prepared for anything, and the competition for places should encourage better performances.
Shout out to Joe Cole who took some humorous “banter” well, while warming up for Villa. On that subject, fans singing “he hits who he wants” to James Tomkins might want to think about that.
MOTM today was again Alex Song, but big shouts to James Collins who played a blinder against his old team. Holidays and bad timings of games will limit my reports until late December now, but hopefully, I will still have the optimism brought on by he opening quarter of the season.
West Ham United
- 13 Adrián
- 18 Jenkinson
- 19 Collins
- 02 Reid
- 03 Cresswell
- 30 Song
- 16 Noble (Carroll – 92′ )
- 08 Kouyaté (Nolan – 66′ )
- 11 Downing
- 31 E Valencia (Cole – 75′ )
- 15 Sakho
- 04 Nolan
- 05 Tomkins
- 09 Carroll
- 17 O’Brien
- 21 Amalfitano
- 22 Jääskeläinen
- 24 Cole
- 01 Guzan
- 34 Lowton
- 04 Vlaar
- 02 Baker (Senderos – 88′ )
- 23 Cissokho
- 08 Cleverley Booked
- 15 Westwood
- 24 Sánchez
- 28 N’Zogbia (Clark – 92′ )
- 11 Agbonlahor Booked
- 10 Weimann Booked
- 06 Clark
- 07 Bacuna
- 12 Cole
- 14 Senderos
- 18 Richardson
- 19 Bent
- 31 Given
With our berth in the last 8 of the League Cup secure with 2 penalties against Burnley, and an entertaining 0-0 against Swansea behind us, I wasn’t expected a goal explosion against Villa. Villa also, are in the middle of a goal drought. This was all set up to be a cracker (!). I also base this on nearly every Villa game i’ve been to, which has been 1-0 either way or a draw.
Slightly interesting change in the middle, with Collison coming into the Middle for Diame. Diame has been quite laboured recently so it probably the the right decision. Also Jarvis and Downing started. This was odd, as we had no attackers again, and it was Nolan’s go at playing up top.
Not a lot to report about really for the whole game. There were two incidents in the first half both involving Andreas Weinmann. The first was when James Tomkins fell asleep and allowed Weinmann through. This produced a fantastic block from Jussi. The second was more controversial when he started to lose a race with Morrison, and started to lean into him. As Ravel tried to go round the now impeding forward, Weinmann hit the deck. Luckily Howard Webb saw the right path, and waved away the penalty appeals. I will say Ravel might always not be that lucky. Apart from the odd cross from our wingers, WHU never really bothered Jussi’s opposite number, Guzan.
As usual WHU played better in the 2nd half and probably had Villa on the rack for a while, but no striker meant no opportunities. CC came on with half an hour to go, and was pretty poor, and the lack of pre (and early) season match practice is showing. The quicker Carroll is back the better.
Benteke nearly won the game for the Villa with a powerful header that hit the bar. Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan also missed game winning chances, Joe hitting the keeper and Kevin hitting the hoarding.
Overall , it was another point, and another 0-0 , but should of been 3 points. We are playing on a knife edge, If a couple of these draws were losses, we are looking at a different game. The quicker Carroll is back the better.
Downing was great today despite some serious stick from the away support. Tomkins, apart from one lapse of concentration is justifying his selection every week. Ravel had his moments, but has gone less attack minded. I assume Sam has given him a dogging for trying to attack on his own all the time, and now he has gone the other way. He just needs to learn the right mix.
MOTM today was non other than the much maligned by me Mark Noble, He was magnificent, all over the pitch and making intelligent moves and passes. If this is off the back of his recently publicised personal quest to get in the England squad then fair play. More chance of me playing in Rio than him, but if this raises his game, I’m all for it. BUT, stop the free kicks son, its really not you !
One concern to end on, Winston Reid looked like he was struggling through the game. This could be a wory that we really pay for later on.
Last week, WHU breathed some life back into a season that was heading southwards at an alarming rate, and they come to Villa today hoping to push into the top half of the table and almost guaranteed safety. If im honest i expected a re run of the win earlier in the season
WHU have replaced their wingers Vaz Te and Jarvis with Nolan (!) and Joe Cole. Pogatetz came in at the back ultimately replacing Demel. No surprises that Carroll keeps his place up top. But this looks more of a 4-3-3 formation rather than a 4-5-1.
Gabby Agbonlahor is not in the starting line up for the Villains, so not good for them.
Villa came out all guns blazing and had Wienmann had an open goal chance put wide after 2 minutes following a shoddy rebound by Jussi. Villa , one of the worst teams at home this season , have the best of the early exchanges, against the team that have the worst away record in all the English professional leagues.
West Ham took some big bangs in the first half hour with a saving tackle from Joey O’Brien ending in another early finish for JOB and Guy Demel coming on in his place. The impressive Tomkins also got a kick in the face from Delph. It was very accidental, and more of a result of putting his body on the line.
Aside a few half chances, the first half came to an end at 0-0, which was fair. I would say WHU moved the ball around better, but Villa were more direct in the attack.
In what has become Villa’s trademark this season, WHU started the second half way on top. But the Villa defence held on, and the WHU attack didn’t make the pressure tell by way of shots, which is a tad worrying. Corner after corner with nothing to show is not good form Sam ! By the way, your 4-4-2, looks worrying like 4-5-1.
Just after the hour mark, on comes the former WHU transfer target Darren Bent. Bit of a worry for me, if im honest. And after being on for at least 2 minutes, he clears an Andy Carroll goal off the line following a corner from Taylor ! Then RVT comes on for Taylor.
Nathan Baker picked up a silly card just before 70 mins, for taking out JC who was rampaging down the right,. The resulting free kick from JC was put over by Nolan. Villa sent straight up the other end, and N’zogbia was fouled by Noble and Villa get a penalty. Benteke took the pen very cooly into the bottom right. One nil Villa. Sam makes an unusual change by putting on CC for Noble !
CC had a chance almost immediately, but got it caught in his feet.
2 mins later, N’zogbia pops a great free kick into the top corner, to make it 2 and over as a game.
WHU throw everything at Villa in the last 10. And it pays off when a mistake in the Villa defence leads to an own goal from Westwood. Despite all this Villa hang on for a win. Not deserved, but a win anyway. A draw would of been a more fair result.
So where does this leave WHU. Nowhere as usual. Sam needs to move on at the end of the season. I think the board have this in mind with him having no contract. Nolan could go with him as well at this stage. Nolan especially pisses me off as he has the skill to play, just decides not to bother. I imagine we also lose Carroll if BFS disappears at the end of the season.
Tomkins played well today, and hopefully has graduated back into the first team, or he will be off at the end of the season. Diame seems to be getting back to normal. CC looked lively when he came on.
MOTM for me should be Tomkins, but leaking 2 goals means he is out. I’ll give it N’Zogbia for his free kick and winning the penalty, and his constant attacking down the right flank.
This will be abridged as i have had wordpress delete my first attempt at this.
We came back to the Premier League on a sunny day in August. For reference out first game last year was in driving rain and freezing cold. Personally I was not too fussed about the new season, as i still had the Olympic blues, but here i was.
So for WHU, it was about being back in the real business of the PL, for new Villa manager Paul Lambert, it was about improving on last year’s dismal performance. The game was dominated by Villa in the first half, with Ireland and Vlaar running the show. But WHU looked solid and didn’t appear to be under threat at the back. James Collins looked like he had never been away, and seem to team up well with Reid.
Just before half time, in what was becoming a bit of non event, some nice interplay between Carlton Cole, Vaz Te and finally Kevin Nolan, led to a goal from Kev, with a hint of offside. Villa thought so, and the linesman had his flag up, but the ref overturned it, and WHU go in at the break one nil to the good.
The second half was all West ham, with Noble and Diame running the show. Diame actually played like a world beater, and if he keeps this up, will be way better than Papa Diop, whose place in the squad, i assume he has taken over. Not many chances to talk of, but CC should of got a pen, but once again his size goes against him.
Jussi had only one decent save to make in the second half, a rasper from Vlaar. I believe Rob Green failed to make at least 5 saves, on his debut for QPR !
So a win on our first outing back with the big boys. great stuff, and my gloom of no Olympics is starting to clear.
All our new signings shined in what was a really average game, including Maiga, who came on for the last 10, rounded Shay Given, only to see his shot cleared of the line.
I spoke to some Villa fans afterwards, who said that was better than they had played all last season ! One small concern i have is that Tompka came on for a midfield cameo appearance. I’m hoping this isn’t going to become normal, but i cannot see him moving the Kiwi or Collins out on their performances today
MOTM: Mohammed Diame, who was everywhere. Mobots all rounds for the big fella.