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.