A bit of an odd one. As Chelsea, Arsenal, Totts and these two London clubs were all playing in the capital yesterday, our games kicked off at 16.20? A new one even for Sky.
Arriving in Green Street wasn’t quite the same as Wembley Way for the NFL, but we did have a band in the car park. Some good old Ska from the SkaTonics who were covering Guy Lombardo’s (and latterly Prince Buster’s and The Specials) Enjoy Yourself. Being a bit of a 2 Tone man myself, I stuck around for a couple of tracks and then headed in with a spring in my step.
After the humiliation against Wigan, Sam brought out the big gins for the visit to Loftus Road. Cole up top, Carroll on the bench, Diame reinstalled in the middle, and unsurprisingly no Tompkins in the back four. No point embarrassing yourself on the Telly.
Ex Hammer Zamora started for the R’s unlike the shafted Rob Green.
For two teams that play football, the game started quite ugly, and turned into a head tennis match. After 3 minutes RVT fot the ball on right, got through a challenge, and put a cross in for Nolan. Big Kev made a mess of the shot, straight onto Jarvis’ head, and into the net. Cheers, 0-1 to the Hammers.
After that, the next 15 were end to end with no end ! WHU seemed to be quite “agricultural” in the tackle, and luckily Mark Clattenburg was light on the yellows. On 19 minutes QPR had a free kick that put some panic into the West Ham box, and ended up with Jussi sparking out Winston Reid. Having had a concussion last season, and the fact he wasn’t moving a lot, they were a little concerned, and they subbed him off for Tompkins. Winston left on his feet, which hopefully is good news.
Once again CC seems to be getting penalised for no reason. Maybe Sam needs to have a chat with the refs, a la Mr Rogers at Liverpool. Noble seemed more settled, must be his new wallet balancing him out.
On 33 Joey O’Brien went off with an injury for McCartney. So, with about half an hour gone, we are two defenders down. What to do, eh? How about a goalmouth scramble, an excellent cross from Tompks, and a smart finish from Ricardo Vaz Te, for his first of the season. Happy birthday RVT!
With 5 to go, from a QPR free kick, Cisse gets a nice volley in only for Jussi to push over the bar. This was the first time he had really been called into action in the half. The weight he seems to have lost since he signed for WHU helped him him get up to it, I’m sure!
After 5 minutes of extra time, WHU go into the break 2 up, in a game that was really even to be fair. WHU pushed a little more and were harder in the tackle.
The second half started in West Ham’s favour, with Diame forcing a save from Cesar, and QPR seemingly all over the place.
After 55 minutes Mark highes made a double sub and brought on Adel Taarabt, who waited 70 seconds before rifling in a screamer into the top right hand corner. 1-2 to the Irons. Then the game livened up as you would expect, and WHU started to look concerned., picking up needless yellows, and running balls out for no reason. Jussi made a brilliant save from Granero, only then to get booked for time wasting.
On 67 Carlton Cole missed a stone wall sitter by putting wide, after Nolan picked up a loose pass, and put him through perfectly. Definitely a man not in form.His reward was also a yellow, along with Kevin Nolan who did no more than question the ref (this is the job of the captain, isn’t it ?). With the game going against us bit by bit (another save by Jussi, after a good long range shot by Cisse), BFS played the trump card and brought on Andy Carroll in lieu of CC for the last 20. The big question now was “Is he fit ?”. With 15 to go, Diakite (a second half sub) got his second yellow, and the R’s were down to 10. Once again the pendulum swung the way of WHU. QPR were tired and this didn’t help. Carroll made a nice knock down to RVT, whose strike pulled a fantastic tip on to the bar from Cesar. With 2 to go, Jussi made another good save from Zamora, to keep WHU ahead.
The extra time went up as 6 minutes, real Fergie time stuff, and QPR seemed back in the ascendancy. Howlett forced another Jussi save from distance. James Tompkins made it 8 yellows for West Ham. Just before the end, Carroll took a ball down, turned and got a shot off, and was unlucky to get a rebound. That was about the end of the match, and WHU recorded their first away win of the season, and went 7th in the league.
Not a lot to winge about tonight, but once again selection is odd. O’Brien in front of George Mac. Really ? Training must show things i’ve never seen. Noble seemed more content, with Nolan ,and Diame, moving well around him.
While we are blowing smoke up ourselves, lets stay grounded. We seem to play well against teams at our level, but we will struggle against anyone who wants to pass and move quickly (as proved by Taarabt). Cisse and Bobby Z were never going to set fire to the grass tonight. I said earlier in the season 10 points before Arsenal would do us well. We have 11, and our real season starts on Saturday. We might need to watch the discipline as well, with 8 yellow cards !
What was encouraging is that we seem to be getting more shots off, because we are playing further up the pitch. Andy Carroll’s return was unexpected and welcome.
The crowd must get a mention. Its so good to hear on old school London derby crowd, with both sides going for it.
MOTM: Noble played well, AC looked the part when he came on, but Jussi Jaaskelainen kept WHU in the game. Much to Rob Green’s disappointment, I’m sure.
This Tuesday brought me to my first England international in the new Wembley, and brought back more questions than answers.
After the “world beating” performance against on Spain, could England’s new look Lions drive on and overturn a non-winning streak against the swedes that goes back to 1968 ?
The team look adventurous enough, with Rodwell, Baines, Zamora, Walker, Jones and Cahill in the starting lineup. The obvious omission of Rooney, paved the way for Zamora to finally deliver his Fulham form in an England shirt. He was backed up by that famous no.10 Gareth Barry ? Not sure about that, with Bent available and Defoe twiddling his thumbs. Also, why does Fabio persist with JT at the back. Take away all the racism nonsense and the plain fact is, he is not good enough for this level. He needs to go and a new captain found pre Euros (Lampard? Barry ?).
Onto the game. Wembley as usual, is a fantastic venue, but was freezing cold. England started will with Walcott playing well down the right, and getting some good crosses in. Jones and Baines looked comfortable, and Barry look out of position. I had mentioned to my wife that Zamora needs 7 chances to score, and i was proved right, as he spurned a few chances early on. Sweden offered not a lot, and finally capitulated in the 23rd minute, when from where i was sitting (at the scoreboard at the far end), Barry scored a goal after some good English build up. This was the 2000th senior England goal, but i’ve since heard it may of been an OG. Edit. Confirmed.
England kept applying pressure, and outside of a few flick and tricks, Zamora didn’t really help his cause. Half time comes and everyone disappears to warm up !
The second half started much the same as the first finished, and then drifted into the usual International friendly second half malaise. Countless subs and then games starts to look like a training excercise (which it is, but a lot of people, paid a lot of money, etc). This was not just my opinion, as it was the first time i hace seen a mexican wave last more then 10 laps of the stadium.
Bent replaced Bobby Z, and looked a real threat in the air, and must go to the Euros now. The rest tried to play the game out, but the swedes smelled blood and pushed on, and were unlucky, hitting the post, and also had a couple of sitters they could of done better with.
Game ends 1-0. So what did i learn?
First off, if I am to move to the Olympic Stadium with West Ham, then i need to be very picky regarding my seat, as my preferred spot behind the goal, is bloody miles away, and was more akin to watching a game of FIFA on a plasma TV. If you cannot see the name on someone’s shirt (in your penalty box), they are too far away.This was quite depressing and has swung me from sort of in favour of the move, to some real deep thinking regarding the advantages.
The other thing was did anyone play themselves in to the Euro squad? Probably Baines and Jones. Zamora played himself out in favour of Bent, but lets not forget, Gazza was not in the squad for Italia 90 until the March international against the Czech’s. so its still up for grabs Bobby! Less tricks more direct is the way to go in internationals.
Once again HS1 payed dividends. Kent to Wembley, 55 mins. Nice