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West Ham United vs Southampton EPL 22/02/2014

February 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Great team, great passing, great to watch, big away following, noisy away following, will upset a few big teams, too good to go down, not good enough for Europe. Once upon a time you could guarantee people would be taking about West Ham. These days its more likely that they are talking about Southampton.

Southampton came in good form, as they have held onto all season, but were running into a WHU team who themselves were on a good run. The game started (after the minutes applause for the passing of the legend that was Sir Tom Finney) with Southampton on fire and we were chasing shadows if I’m honest and it was no surprise when they took the lead after 8 minutes. The manner of conceding our first goal in over 4 games was more disappointing. There were 6 West Ham players in a row, marking space rather than players and this allowed Yoshida to ghost in unopposed to get his first goal of the season.

This seemed to wake the hammers up and our midfield in particular.  We started to see more of the ball and were closing down the effective play of the Saints a lot quicker which was starting to make them make mistakes. After 20 minutes, Kevin Nolan spotted a run from Matt Jarvis across their back line and lofted a beautiful ball into the danger zone, which Matty got onto, nuts the keeper and slots in the equalizer. To be fair if he had missed he was due a penalty as well, due to the keeper taking him out. There was a slight sniff of offside, but for once the luck was with us. 1-1

We didn’t have to wait long for the next goal, as the Hammers didn’t relent the pressure on the Saints. 3 minutes after the leveller, Carton Cole jumped out of the pack to bullet a header against the post, and the rebound came back to him (from Yoshida’s arm – another pen ?) and rifled in WHU’s second to make it 2-1 WHU after 23 mins. For the first time this season, football had broken out at Upton Park. Southampton continued their possessional play, and might of felt aggrieved not to be level at half time. Adrian did his part again and so did Guy Demel, making some key interventions and clearances.

The scoreline was interesting for me as Mrs MrBen had had her first ever football bet today. She picked WHU to win 2-1, so was hoping for a drab second half to ensure £100 quid into her pocket.

To be fair she looked good for it as the second half didn’t really live up to action of the first. WHU as usual, had  a period of play where they gave Southampton some opportunities to level, with both Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez wasting chances. However come the 71st minute, a lovely cross from Stewart Downing met the industrious Carlton Cole who nodded it down for Kevin Nolan to fire in an overhead kick from 5 yards out to bring another 3 points to Hammers. For once a comfortable win, to confirm their top half league aspirations, and extend their current form to 4 wins, one draw and only one goal conceded. And a game where the score was about right. If Diame’s speculative shot near the end hadn’t just hit the bar, but had gone in, the scoreline would of been unfair to Southampton. This game has probably won Sam the manager of the month award for Feb as well, without Andy Carroll for most of it. Things are looking good for the Hammers, and with Newcastle and Southampton slipping up more than expected currently, I don’t think we have finished our table climb. I was eyeing up Man U yesterday but their win against Palace probably makes them an unrealistic target now.

So some points of note. Sam has maintained then when the team is fit we can match anyone, and despite my reservations, he may be right. One other point is one I started last game. Adam Lallana on Sky commentary this morning, was being lauded as a cert for the plane to Brazil. Mark Noble played him off the park, and once again dominated a game with tackles, pick ups and directing play. He deserves a look in, if nothing else.

I have also decided to add a new feature to the blog, The Bloke Behind Me. Now this guy has been there some time, and comes out with the most inane nonsense,  week in week out .

So for the in inaugural TBBM, we have “James Collins has probably been our best player this season, but i wouldn’t have him in the team” Nice one mate. The only thing that will stop this feature is the 67 year old Angry John clumping him , so I have that in my influence sphere ! Nice to see Aussie John yesterday as well, coming back for a beer, even though he does live the far sticks of Essex these days.

MOTM for this week was once again Mark Noble. Another game dominated.

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The Italian Hammers contingent, gets even bigger

This man wears the no 1 jersey next season. Without a doubt.

This man wears the no 1 jersey next season. Without a doubt.

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WHUFC vs Cardiff City 17/08/2013 EPL 2013/14

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment

The new season has finally come round and where better to start than against a recently promoted team? Two years ago we entertained CCFC in our first game in the Championship. This time both teams are in the Premier League, but one has an extra years experience.

This summer Sam had been quietly going about his business. Securing Carroll, picking up Ratz and Downing, reintegrating Morrison back into squad. The net result of this pitchside was exactly the same team from last year with Maiga replacing Carroll / Cole.

BUT…. we looked fit. Joe Cole and Nolan for example had definitely dropped some timber over the summer. Ravel had made the bench, along with Downing. RVT was there as well, but Downing coming in might accelerate his exit (hopefully). I will also mention at this point that i was wearing shorts, the first time in nearly 3 seasons. About time !

West Ham started the game looking assured, and Cardiff started at pace, moving the ball around snappily. But after a while it was apparent where the experience laid. One thing i noticed in our first year back in the prem was the fact that the game, although slightly slower than the Championship, is way more accurate and bad passing is punished. This was happening to Cardiff who made a sequence of bad passes, particularly when in attacking positions. Nolan and Noble seemed to be picking up presents everywhere simply by closing down quickly.

One of these led to Matt Jarvis getting down the wing with 13 mins on the clock. His cross was looking all the world like a normal ball into the air until he cleverly cut back and found Joe Cole with a well placed pass. Cole collected, spun and smashed it past Marshall to open the Hammers account for 2013/14.

The game pattern had pretty much been set. Cardiff attacks breaking down and West Ham keeping Marshall and the Cardiff back four busy. As usual the second half came around and we still hadn’t got the second goal we needed. Cardiff showed signs of reinvigoration through Bellamy and Campbell’s interactions, but with no other assistance, most of this effort came to nothing.

We were also looking stale so Sam mixed things up a bit. He brought on Downing after 70 mins. JC should of made way as despite his goal, Jarvis was tearing Cardiff apart on the left. But BFS being BFS he took off Jarvis (is Sam scared of big name players ?).

For a fella who had reservations about coming to WHU, Downing looked like a man reborn, getting straight into the game. Just four minutes into his hammers career, he shot down the right again, and fed in Mark Noble. Nobes in turn pushed it into Nolan who wasted no time in firing past Marshall to double the score. This left the result in no doubt.

I have it on good authority that Cardiff have not finished spending and on watching this game, this is really needed. Some of those lads need to adjust quickly if they are serious about staying up. Their fans will follow them everywhere though, and this must help. Special mention to Craig Bellamy. A firm favourite of mine in his short spell at WHU, he still makes those lung bursting runs, and still looks a class act. He also got warm applause from the West Ham fans when he was substituted.

On the subject of fit for premier league. Maiga? Please. He was getting shoved off the ball all the time. If he has been kept in favour of Carlton Cole, then someone really needs to have a word with BFS.

In short a great start for the Hammers and a 3 point lead on a team we could be struggling against come the end of season. Will Cardiff stay up ? Judging on one game is harsh, so i’ll just say investment is required.

MOTM: On the first half performance, JC by a mile. But over 90 minutes, it has to go to the new trim Kevin Nolan. A goal, loads of blocks, tackling and running back,  he gave the Hammers a real captain’s performance.

My view of the new season.

Can I leave you with this. You really need to take a look at yourself if you are wearing a shirt with the name of a player on the back who is younger than you.

Oldie with Moore 6. Acceptable. 30 years old with Greaves 9. Fine. 40 years old with Wilsher 10 (saw 3 on the way home). Sad and unacceptable. You are not 12.

End of Season Report WHUFC 2012/2013

May 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Overall, our first season back in the prem has been a success, with Big Sam steering the team to a top 10 finish, in allegedly the best league in the world. We have a become a hard team to break down, but we do have a limited attack, unless Andy Carroll is playing. This means our league position is about right. For Sam then, we have to take on board that in the last two seasons he has done exactly what has been asked of him, and delivered in both years. But he needs to liven up play to get more fans on side.

Sam Allardyce 8/10

For the players we shall go in shirt number order.

2. Winston Reid. Bit of a shame to start any article at the top, but this is where we find ourselves. The Kiwi has been outstanding this season, and has won the club’s Player of the Season award, and mine. Which may come as a surprise as I wanted him out when we first took him on. 9/10

3. George McCartney – Only played about 25% of the season, and looked OK, but then injury struck, not OK. Probably should be offloaded this summer. 5/10

4. Kevin Nolan. Big Kev ended the year on a high, with a hatrick against collapsing Reading. Seems to drive the team, but could do with getting in the gym a bit, if you ask me. Double figures from midfield not too shabby though. 7/10.

5. James Tomkins. Really disappointing season for the young defender as Sam obviously doesn’t rate him, which is a shame. Would do best to leave, but i would like him to stay and prove Sam wrong. 6/10

7. Matt Jarvis. Our record signing has been everything we needed this year once he got going. Balls flew in from all angles from the feet of the small winger. More to come I hope. 7/10

8. Andrew Thomas Carroll. Where would we of been without Sam’s inspired loan signing. Not just his goals, but his teamplay and willingness to get on the end of everything has been nothing short of amazing. If he didn’t have a spell out injured, we would of at least been knocking on the door of Europe. If we can hang onto him permanently, colour me a Sam fan ! 9/10

9. Carlton Cole. This season sees Carlton leaving West Ham a cult hero and a West Ham fan. Never gave less than 100%, but just cannot fit into Sam’s system. I’m really sorry to see him go, but wish him luck wherever he ends up. 7/10

10. Jack Collison. Jack has had another injury hit season, but when he has played he still hasn’t lived up to his early potential. I would give him one more season, but there are rumours about an early retirement. 6.5/10

11. Modibo Maiga. Failure, except for a last minute cross for Kevin Nolan to get his hatrick against Reading. Back to France for this recruit. 3/10

12. Richardo Vaz Te. The enigma continues. The guy who scored our last championship goal, gets one in our last game of the season. RVT is just not good enough for Premier League football. He gets shoved off too much and gives the ball away too easily. Another one for the exit door. 4/10

14. Matt Taylor. Seems to give his all, and has the mark of a premier league player. Used sparingly this season, might see more action if RVT leaves.  6/10

15. Yossi Benayoun. Couple of appearances pre christmas and won a Europa League winners medal. Fair play. Don’t come back. 5/10

16. Mark Noble. The local boy had been an ever present until an injury took him out for a few games. Lots of puff, not nearly enough end product. Can do it, and once he gets it in his head he can do it. Needs to realise he is not the best player in WHU and just needs to get his head down and crack on. 6/10.

17 Joey O’Brien. Last years freebie becomes this year’s secret weapon. Plays really well on the right, not so good on the left but capable.  A good addition to the team. 7/10.

19 James Collins. Started the season really badly, not sure where he was playing, not linking up with Reid, got mauled by Swansea and kept Tomkins out of the side . Post Xmas was indispensable. Kept Man U quiet on his own. Well played Ginge. 7.5/10

20. Guy Demel. His rampaging down the right seem to be more controlled now and his tackles better. Needs to stay . 7/10

21. Mo Diame. Absolutely fantastic all season. His goal against Man U was sublime. Held us to ransom a bit during Jan, but hopefully with that behind him and a better midfield to come in, he will improve again (before he leaves !). 8.5/10

22. Jussi Jaaskeklainen. Robert Green’s replacement played every PL game this season, and won us about 10 points in my estimation. A couple of mistakes are allowed in a season like this. Well played Sir. 8/10.

26 Joe Cole. If I’m honest I really wanted this to work, and it sort of did, if only from a raising the spirits point of view. Needs more game time, and needs to get his mojo back . You can see why Liverpool moved him on though, as by rights he should sit square in the Brendan Rogers camp. 6.5/10

32. Gary O’Neill. Never let us down as a sub, but really took his chance in the middle when Noble was out. Should get more game time next year. 7/10.

Special mentions.

Abou Diarra – nice one.

Dan Potts. Your time will come.

Elliot Lee. Maybe, lets see.

Chamakh. Lol. Lets hope he wasn’t expensive.

Last but not least the Chairmen. Lets not forget, this season we have gained a new ground, as well as bankrolled the signings (re signings) of Carroll, Cole, and secured Diame. Also, for a man in his late 70’s David Gold is fantastic on twitter (dg). The other Dave has kept his self out of the media and left it to Karen, which is probably right. If the 3 of them play this ground business well, we could be up there in a few years.

See you next season (this year was 7.5/10).  COYI.

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Take a bow son !. Sir Winston of East London (and NZ)

WHUFC vs Wigan Athletic 20/04/2013

April 21, 2013 Leave a comment

After our well earned point (some would say moral victory) against the Champions elect earlier this week, I really fancied us to continue on to win against Wigan this weekend. It’s always a close game, in fact we were two nil up and then went on to lose to a last minute goal in May 2011 which saw WHU relegated, and Avram Grant getting home under his own steam.

This time around, we are on an unbeaten run of 4 games and Wigan are staring down the barrel of relegation, with an FA Cup final to look forward to.

Sam made no changes to the starting line up, but Joe Cole was added to the bench. The opening salvos from both teams set themselves out to attack. West Ham a chance with a flashing header from Collins just going wide from a corner, and Maloney for Wigan got on the end of a great through ball only to be blocked by Jussi. From then on WHU seem to take control and it was only a matter of time, although the inevitable goal was a little unexpected. Matt Jarvis seem to be having a field day down the wing, and once again in the 21st minute he crossed in the ball after a great burst out of the midfield by Diame. This cross missed about 2 Wigan players, Diame and Nolan lashed at it to no avail, and then the Latics goalie let it go past him, to open the scoring for WHU. For all their dominance, WHU didn’t capitalise on this lead.

The second half was more of the same and then Sam did as Sam does and swapped out the whole midfield, with quick succession, O’Neill, Diame and RVT (who was woeful) were replaced by Noble, Joe Cole and Collison. Notice Nolan was not replaced, even though he seemed ineffectual if I’m honest. Again.

Anyway, WHU went into free fall  and if it wasn’t for Jussi, we would of been behind, as Wigan threw everything at us, and we had no way of stopping it.

This game had draw written all over it until with 10 minutes to go a long free kick found the ever impressive Carroll who moved it on brilliantly for Nolan to volley it in for his 100th premier league goal, and some justification for him still being on the pitch.

So WHU win 2-0, and Wigan might not get out of the hole this time. They did not have the luck, and being a WHU fan, I know what happens when you are down there. You cannot buy luck or goals. However you can buy players and there are a couple I could see playing in claret and blue if Wigan do go down ! Maloney for one.

We have all but secured our position in the league for next year, and can look forward for a change. Being in the top half has a nice feel to it as well, so lets hope we can stay there.

MOTM: Jussi Jaaskelainen. Just pure class again and kept us in the game when BFS block replaced a midfield unit. Gary O’Neill gets a shout as well, for his performance up until he was subbed.

Ton up Kev

Ton up Kev