West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham Utd 16/12/2012


wbromwhu

Another TV game for the Hammers today, as we travel to West Brom for what will be a tough game against a team rejuvenated this season by their new manager, our old number 2, Steve Clarke. Both teams are due a win, and are beset by injury. Sam only has 6 subs because of injury. Diame being out is a massive lost for the visitors. But a back to form Carlton Cole could be a light at the end of the tunnel for WHU. This game has draw all over it, to be honest.

This will be a live blog, so probably a little disjointed in part.

O’Neill comes into the middle (as hinted in his twitter, last week), to replace Diame. Odd but probably better than Tomkins at this level, in this position. Liam Ridgewell is out for the Baggies, so no old boys scoring against us this week !

WBA started the game the livelier, with a couple of decent attacks early on. Mark Noble to his credit seemed to be on this wavelength and was stopping attacks and starting counters with aplomb. As long as he keeps his feet to himself, as he will be banned for the home game against Everton if he gets a yellow.

Just when WHU dont need it, Reid goes down after 9 mins, after getting a WBA player land on him during a WHU free kick. He gets up but is hobbling gingerly.

1st shot on target was after 15 when Peter Odemwingie hit a long ranger into the arms of Jussi. Joey O’Brien seems a little uncomfortable in the left back berth, if I’m honest.

On 27, Shane Long had a half chance go just wide of the post. That really is all there is to report on, its was all a bit dull. Matt Taylor tried to put Cole in with a header but hit the keeper instead. Then Joey O’Brien picked up a yellow for a very unnecessary challenge. Like i say uncomfortable.

First corner for WHU on 31. Reid is very unlucky to put the James Collins head back just over the bar.

On 35 CC springs clear and unleashes a thunderous shot , which is stopped, and just goes past the advancing Kevin Nolan.

After a minute of stoppage time, the refs blows for what was a very quiet first half for both teams. 0-0. Tight as. Sky reckon WHU on top, i don’t agree with that, but neither keeper has had to have a stormer. Did I say a draw at the beginning ?

The second half starts much like the first, with the Baggies on top, and getting a 6 yard chance in the first minute, and 4 corners back to back, including one that ended u with WBA hitting the bar. Great news if you have a spread on, not good if you support WHU.

Gary O’Neill goes really close after an edge of the box scramble, with a curling 20 yarder.

After this exciting start, nothing happens until CC wins an unlikely ball on 55, and instead of just passing back, tries some fancy flick up, which goes straight to a WBA player. Shocking. The next minute sees Taylor hit a poor shot across the goal.

On the hour mark, WBA hit an almost identical shot to Cole’s in the first half. Jussi Parries away, much to their dismay. On 65 Reid beats  long to the ball, to stop the once WHU target opening his account.

Taylor gets fouled on what looked like a good attack for WHU. From the resulting free kick O’Brien goes close. Even though the game is scrappy, WHU seem to be slightly on top, slightly being the operative word.

Spoke too soon, the Baggies got right back into this game, and are getting all the corners again, including one cross that hits the bar. WHU are leading a charmed life here.

On the 75 minute, like clockwork, on comes Maiga. But not for Cole, for Jarvis. Sam obviously sees a game to be won here. Then another sub with 10 to go. Tomkins comes on for Demel. Semi straight swap. CC seems to get a bang in the mouth from the next corner. Personally i think he’s time wasting. There, i’ve said it.

On 82 Steve Clarke takes the draw as he brings off Shane Long. Meanwhile Kevin Nolan and Malumbu get carded for some handbags as the game heads towards in inevitable conclusion. On 85 Tomkins gets himself a card for a deliberate obstruction.

Today seemed to be a case of 2 teams who don’t really know how to break down organised teams, and don’t have that star quality to change a game. Maybe Diame could of provided that, we will never know. I think both teams are guilty of being able to raise their game against better opposition, but cannot do it when they are playing similar teams. However WHU did earn their point today, but the frailties of the depleted squad were obvious. Hopefully obvious to the board as well !

The draw was a fair result, and pushes WHU back into touching distance of the top half.

MOTM here was not an easy decision, but James Collins edged it for me. Noble played well, as did Reid and Cole, but Collins seemed to be exactly where you needed him every time. Winston for Sky. What do they know !

Did i say a draw ? The 30 points I picked up in my prediction league for a correct score says yes !

WHUFC vs Liverpool 09/12/2012 EPL


After last weeks amazing result against Chelsea, my return to the Boleyn after missing a couple of games, was full of promise. I was under the assumption that bearing in mind the form Liverpool found themselves in, we should be more than favourite to take all 3 points and cement our position in the top half of the table.

I should counter this with my record, which is following me into this season,of missing all the good games and witnessing the throwaways and boring old nil nils in the cold.

The cold was in attendance and the first 10 mins followed suit with Liverpool dominating the early exchanges. Hammers old boy Glen Johnson seemed to have a free reign down the Liverpool right. He capitalised on this in the 11th minute with an absolute cracker of a shot into the top corner to put the Scousers in the lead. A bit like last week against Chelsea, this seemed to wake West Ham up and  the midfield of Nolan, Noble and Diame started to carve apart Gerrard, Lucas, and Allen. Diame again was dynamic in his running.

Demel seemed to be getting the better of Liverpool on the right and in an uncharacteristically forward move, had a shot hit Allen on the arm and WHU got a penalty. Noble stepped up and put it Reinas right to equalise. Then WHU really piled on the pressure and were rewarded (!), when Sir Steven Gerrard of Huyton headed a WHU corner into his own net, like Shearer in his pomp.

To be up at the break was probably a fair score even if the goals were from strange sources.

WHU started the second half with Demel off for McCartney, presumably to counter Johnson. This seemed to change nothing, as WHU were easily on top in the early exchanges. Carlton Cole was playing a blinder, accepting passes from everywhere and bringing people into play. Maybe all that time on the bench, has made him study the best parts of Carroll’s game.

With about 20 mins to go, disaster struck. Diame pulled up on another rampage down the right. His substitution was always going to affect WHU, but it also seemed to provide impetus to Liverpool, as the main WHU threat / blocker was leaving the field. Within 3 minutes Joe Cole (ex Hammer) pounced on a ball from Sterling to pull the Pool level.

They then pushed on and got the job done, as Shelvey and Collins got stuck in, and the ball came off Collins to make it 3-2 Liverpool. Turns out Shelvey was a WHU schoolboy as well. Great.

That was that.

Whether they deserved the win or not, I’m probably not the best to comment, but my opinion is no. They were all over the place at times, but fairs fair, they smelt blood and went for it.

So Diame then. Talk about the club shooting itself in the foot. He has a good game that makes the headlines (Chelsea), and all of a sudden our best secret is leaving for Liverpool, Newcastle or Arsenal. And the club are the only ones discussing it. Surely a simple no, would be better than bandying around contract details. This all might be mute though, as he might be out for 12 weeks , easily seeing out the transfer window (thanks to T-C for my ricket regarding the ACN).  Apparently he came to WHU for the contract, so up it and get a resign, simples. Irrespective of Diame leaving we need more midfielders in Jan, as Tomkins cannot keep filling in, in this league.

In other news, another WHU old boy was in the headlines, as Rio got coined in the Manchester derby. Bearing in mind how slow he moves these days, you could of hit him with a fiver from 30 yards !

Todays MOTM, purely for taking his chance back in the first team, and having about the best game i’ve seen him have in over a year, was the cult hero of Upton Park, Carlton Cole. Talk about a confidence player, 2 weeks ago I wanted him out of East London ! Fickle football fan, me ?

PS We also this week, won some Olympic thing or other. More news on that in about 5  or 10 years when all the legal wranglings stop !

Nobes puts away his penalty.
Nobes puts away his penalty.

WHUFC vs Manchester City 03/11/2012 EPL


Having missed our great win against Southampton while i was in Vegas (post to follow), i travelled to Upton Park with slight trepidation, as i had also heard that we were extremely poor against Wigan.

Man City came to this game with a run of so so results and probably felt this would be a game where 3 points were a formality. This was backed up by team selection, with Mancini starting Tevez, Balotelli, and Edin Dzeko all up top. West Ham put out probably their best starting 11, with Benayoun and Jarvis starting. Collins got a bit of rough reception from the home crowd when announced. Tomkins wasn’t even on the bench, and O’Brien came in at right back.

The game started as you would imagine with City moving the ball around, West Ham picking up scraps. However my main fear hadn’t materialised as Silva wasn’t playing, and the City midfield was not as quick and agile as i expected.

West Ham played themselves into the game with Diame and Noble starting to take charge with some real blood and thunder tackles. Then the potential turning point occured. Kevin Nolan scored a goal from close range that was ruled for offside. Turns out the goal was ruled out wrongly. I haven’t seen the evidence myself but every report seems to back this up.

This shook up City however, and from then on for the first half WHU were on top ,with Benayoun hitting the Bar, and Carroll going close. City had their chances however, but most of them fell to Balotelli, who frankly was useless. This guy has all the talent in the world, but his laziness and refusal to go for any ball that isn’t already on his foot, would frustrate the hell out of me.

No changes for the second half from either team, and no change on the pitch, with City having a shade on possession but WHU keeping their hand in, and once again Carroll went close with a spectacular overhead kick.  City didn’t get te chances they had in the first half, but the ones they did fall to Tevez, who knowing his place at Upton Park, did his best to miss !

West Ham battled on and some good subs by Sam to get Diame off before he was sent off, and a late sub of Collins to give Jordan Spence some game time worked. Collins to be fair had made some great blocks, and tackles and hopefully has redeemed some of the ill will of the WHU faithful.

The game ended  0-0 and it really was a point earned by WHU, and 2 lost by City. I’ll take that.

On leaving the ground, as usual we ended up with the away fans , and i heard some interesting comments. They thought we put 11 behind the ball, and this is what always happens to City on the road. What nonsense ! We had as many scoring opportunities as them and really gave them a game.

The more telling comment was from a young girl, who said that if it had been United rather than City, they would of got the win. This is because United are a team, and City are a group of talented players, who struggle to play as a team when the going gets tough. Witness their CL performances in the last 2 years. This is a trate of Mancini, see no further than his tenure at Inter. He needs to get rid of Balotelli pronto, and push Yaya Toure further up the pitch. Last time we played City at home they won 3-1 and he ran the whole game. Yesterday, he was deep and ineffectual. I would love to say this was due to WHU pressure, but i will admit it was more likely to Mancini’s team selection and tactics.

These City fans need to remember where they were 4 or 5 years ago, and not assume they already have a permanent seat at the top table of European football.

All in all, a good day to build confidence for the Hammers, and keeps us in the top 10.

MOTM. Reid and Collins were excellent, Noble and Diame threw themselves around. But for fitting straight back in and playing a full 90 with style and class, my award goes to Yossi Benayoun.

AC goes close with a speculative overhead kick.

WHU vs Sunderland 22/09/2012 – EPL


I said at the start of the season that we needed 10 points before the visit of Arsenal, and we started off the day being in line with that, and with a chance of going 3rd in the prem, as anyone who is any good was playing on the Sunday.

With that in mind i set off towards London with a confident feeling of another 1-0 win ,a la Villa. The journey to UP was a little disjointed as i got to the Pub in Forest Gate to be told i had missed the lads by 5 minutes, and they were on their way. Now i know they are old boys, but they do know their mobiles are not just for answering !

Anyway, a quick trip on the 58 later, and I arrive at the Theater of Mediocrity in time for a beer (which they had got me, despite having no idea where i was !) and kick off. The game started as these seem to , with a bit of feeling out from both sides. WHU seemed to be on top, but not too keen on pushing forwards. WHU seemed to be happy playing across the back without advancing and this is one thing that gets my goat. If you want to move it around down the pitch fine, but when it gets back to the anchor (in this case, Collins), then make sure that we are further up the pitch than when that phase starts. Anything else is a waste of time. Anyway, Collins seemed to be a little uncomfortable with this. So uncomfortable infact, he tried a hollywood ball out to Taylor, miss hit it, and gave is straight to Larrson, who then put in a beauty for Fletcher to get onto, nuts Collins and put the Black Cats one up. Arrrrgggg. This is the second time this season Collins has given away goals for no reason, and still he starts in front of Tompkins.

This put WHU on the back foot for some time, but with about 10 to go in the half we started to put the chances in with Vaz Te missing a sitter on the back post, while in the air. CC put a header just over, and the “athletic” Kevin Nolan forced a great save from Mignolet in the Mackem’s goal, with an overhead volley.

WHU go in at the break with a goal deficit, but seem to be capable, if they push on a bit. But there are too many loose balls from RVT and Noble needs to play further up the pitch.

The second half was a different story with WHU having all the game, but no clinical play near the Sunderland penalty box. CC was very quiet, and the crowd are getting on his back again. I have defended this guy to the end, but they now have a point, he is getting support from Nolan and RVT, but is not making the moves that a premier league striker needs too. Along with the fact that Bramble and O’Shea were playing well, meant he had to up his game.

The lack of incisive play was apparent to BFS as well, so he brought on Jarvis and Benayuon just before the 60 minute mark. This changed things massively. Jarvis forced Gardner into an early yellow, which gave him free reign for the rest of the game, and without the stats to hand, I would say he put in more crosses in 30 minutes than the rest of the team in the whole of the game.

With 90 gone and our pressure unrelenting it looked like just a bad day at the office, right up until another Jarvis cross led to some toing and froing, and ended up with Kevin Nolan getting on the end of a loose ball to equalize. Chicken dances all round, and a deserved point for the Hammers.

Martin O’Neill suggested his team should of won 3-0. I have no idea what game he is watching. Without his centre backs he would of got an hiding. No Idea what Sam said, but i imagine it was along the lines of hard fought, no easy games,etc, etc.

So what do we do now? Sam needs to start Jarvis. Why pay 11 mil for a player of that quality and put him on the bench. Hopefully we dont have another Baldock on our books. We are not Man City and every pound has to count.

RVT. I have suggested elsewhere, that this lad is not Premier League quality, and yesterday was more proof. He looks OK when he has space, but with quicker players closing him down, he was terrible. He doesn’t have the quick thinking a player of his undoubtable talent should have. Maybe a Jan exit back to the championship for a few mil will help everyone. Talking of slow thinkers, Mark Noble. He may be Hammer of the year, he may be a local boy, but he is not irreplaceable. He takes too long on the ball, and seems to always go sidewards and backwards. Now with Diame in the team, he should play deeper, but he’s almost a 5th defender. And his obsession with taking every free kick and corner is starting to grate, especially with Nolan, Taylor and Jarvis on the pitch ! Apparently he’s getting a new 5 year contract on Monday, but if someone comes in with silly money we should move him on.

CC needs to buck up. Obviously the Carroll situation has pissed him off, but come on Carlton, move about a bit. You were an international 2 years ago, where’s it all gone ?

SAM: Jarvis must start, no negotiation, he was the best crosser of a ball last season in the prem. Why bench him now? Also Collins need to be given a kick up the arse. Play Tomks in mid week, and if he does the business, then let him start against QPR next Monday.

So for MOTM, Reid and Diame were again solid and played really well, but for his support play, his attempts at goal and keeping our unbeaten home record this season, it has to be the newer, fitter, Kevin Nolan.

Captain Chicken to the rescue.

Swansea City VS WHUFC 25/08/2012 EPL


Last week, i blogged about us getting away with it, this week it showed.

The Swans trumped QPR 5-0 last week, and for successive weeks they gave successive WHU (past and present) goalkeepers a torrid time.

I watched the first half in the house, and listened to the second in the car, but i dont need to be there to comment on this game.

So the game. We started Collins again in defence and gave record signing Matt Jarvis Taylors berth on the left. RVT was dropped in favour of Tompkins who started in the middle of the park, to allow Nolan and Jarvis to support Cole.

We started off, OK at best, but soon the cracks started to show. But after 20 Jussi made an absolute howler, rediverting a cross under his body and into the goal. Nine minutes later, Collins passed back a ball so poor it has no home, and Michu ran onto it to put the Swans 2 up.  We started to pick up a little, with some interesting corners, and Nolan came close just before half time.

Nothing changed on the second half, it was all one way traffic ,with Graham getting the third and final goal in the 69th minute.

So what went wrong.

1. Tompkins in the midfield. This was tried last year and was OK at best, as the opposition wasn’t good enough to exploit it. However Swans just moved around him, once they realised he’s not exactly Iniesta on the mobility front.

2 No Vaz Te, a negative move again. Against a team who love to push forward, surely a pacey winger with some skill should be playing. Ahhhh, Jarvis is already playing and you cannot have 2 on the pitch until it goes wrong. NO Sam wrong, wrong wrong. This was a game we were probably going to lose anyway, so why not go for it.

3. Poor old Carlton. Again left in no mans land, about 30m from any other Hammer player. Nolan drifted backwards, unless we had a corner or free kick, and if CC did hold it up, it took and age to get to him. I have moaned and moaned about BFS’s inability to play this lad properly, and its really starting to get to me. He needs support and balls on the deck, end of.

I really hope Tompks doesn’t piss off this week, but if he is going to misused every week, then you cannot blame him. Baldock did and fair play to him. Who’s next, Maynard ?

Personally , i think we had the tools to give the Swans a good game, but Sam made the mistakes, along with Collins and Jussi.

Bad day at the office? hope so………..

NO JAMES. SHIIIIITTTTT !

Heres a useless fact (lost hammers ?:)). The last three -including the current- coaching set up at Liverpool had ex Hammers personnel in. Steve Clarke, Kevin Keen and now Mike Marsh. And look how well they are doing !

 

WHUFC vs Aston Villa EPL 18/08/2012


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.

Big Kev celebrates being back in the Prem, with the winner, on the opening day of the season.

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.