Liked the blog comment from Frankieboyhammer after the Sunderland game, who wrote: "Panned out like a chick flick, nothing happened for 80 minutes then a happy ending." Not sure which chick flick West Ham should be, though Bridesmaids and Ten Things I Hate About You might suit some recent seasons. Plus of course Clueless and possibly When Harry Met Slaven and Sleepless in Stratford. Any more suggestions?
Thought James Collins was the man of the match on Saturday. The West Ham website has some good stats, revealing that Ginge made 18 clearances, 12 with his head, won four aerial duels and made one successful tackle. It was a poor game, but what West Ham needed was character to get a result, and Collins has that in abundance. He never seems to complain when left out of the team for Reid and Tomkins, but always comes in and does a great job. He had another great game in West Ham's win over Manchester City earlier this season. The whole side showed character to battle their way to a result against Sunderland and what is often overlooked by his detractors is that under Allardyce the team spirit is the best it's been since the days of Alan Pardew. The side look like they want to play for each other and the manager. Hopefully now we have the confidence of a win the style will return too.
Say what you like about Kevin Nolan, but watching the highlights of the Sunderland game on Match of the Day, you do realise how good he is at appealing to referees. First he was held back by Larrsson while going for Matt Jarvis's cross. After this happened he sank to his knees, raised his arms to the sky King Lear-style and then theatrically pummelled the turf with his fists.
In the second half he was held back by Vergini only to be incorrectly given offside because the ball had came off O'Shea. Nolan adopted the shocked expression of a man whose house had just been razed by rampaging Vandals and Visigoths, running to the referee, imploring for justice with his hands and declaring "it came off him!" When our Kevin retires you do feel he might have a career in the dramatic arts ahead of him.
It’s an early dinner in Ken’s Café with my no-longer kids
for a quid daughter Lola. Michael the Renaissance Man and Matt discuss why we
shouldn’t have video evidence in games, which seems to be mainly because it
would spoil the flow of the game and more importantly Matt wouldn’t be able to
shout at the refs anymore. Lola asks where Marlon Harewood is now and Matt is
able to inform us he’s at Hartlepool.
Then it’s on to the Newham Bookshop where Lola buys Ghostwritten by David Mitchell for her
mum’s birthday. Though I always thought he was an old Fulham player. Or was
that John Mitchell?
Inside the stadium we learn that Fraser has been advised by
his doctor to avoid over-excitement, but West Ham games will be fine. While
Nigel looks very pleased with the return of his West Ham hat that I rescued
from a District Line train after the Chelsea game.
FRIEND OR DEFOE?
Sunderland look better motivated under new gaffer Dick
Advocaat, and give West Ham a couple of early scares. Jermain Defoe, who’s frequently
reminded that he’s not a popular man by the Bobby Moore Stand, crosses and
Wickham produces a good volley that is blocked by Adrian. Kouyate is then caught
out of position as a flick sends Defoe clear, but Small Paul Ince volleys over
West Ham dominate the rest of the half, even if it’s a
scrappy game. A fizzing centre from Downing is just missed by Jarvis in the
middle and then Sakho heads Cresswell’s cross wide. Jarvis produces a great
cross into the box only for Nolan to be held back by a defender. Song produces
a good long-range shot that Pantilimon does well to push wide.
The second half sees Nigel change his claret West Ham hat
for a claret and blue hooped version in a desperate bid to bring WHU some luck.
Carlton Cole comes on for Jarvis and does a decent job up front, holding up the
ball and being a nuisance for the Sunderland centre backs.
Cresswell produces another fine cross and Sakho heads wide
when he should score. A Collins punt into the box sees Nolan blatantly held by
Vergini, but the ref gives offside even though the ball flicked off O’Shea.
STOP ALL THE CLOCKS
The stadium clock stops and then moves backwards towards a
singularity. Michael the Whovian believes it’s a time rift in E13.
Adam Johnson comes on for Sunderland and is promptly reminded
by some members of the crowd that West Ham have a very good kids-for-a-quid ticketing scheme for games such as this. He brings more threat to
Sunderland though and Van Aanholt’s long-range shot produces a good save from
At least Matt never gives up hope (much), apart from the odd
tirade at Downing and the ref. I reassure Lola that West Ham will still win,
without really believing it. But then Jenkinson finds Noble, whose first pass is
blocked, but as Nene climbs over Larrsson, the ball comes back to Nobes who
dinks a great ball through to Sakho. Diafra finishes confidently into the
corner, as Upton Park erupts with relief. “Diafra Sakho he scores when he
wants!” sing the fans. Nene has got away with a foul, but we deserve a break
after recent weeks.
The clock stopping has helped. We think there’s ten minutes
left but actually there’s only three minutes of added time, as Big Sam brings
on Joey O’Brien to waste some time. Poor game, great result. The side should
regain some confidence from this and start looking up rather than down again.
Adrian 6; Jenkinson 6, Collins 7, Kouyate 6, Creswell 6; Noble 6, Nolan 5 (Nene 5), Song 5, Downing
6, Jarvis 5 (Cole 6); Sakho 7 (O’Brien n/a).
Well, the good news is that Carl Jenkinson will be able to play against Sunderland and Carlton Cole is fit again. Not so good is the fact that James Tomkins has had an operation on his dislocated shoulder and will be out for several weeks, Enner Valencia is still recovering from his teacup-induced toe injury and Winston Reid is out along with Andy Carroll. Even Doneil Henry has managed to get injured while on loan at Blackburn.
So it looks like Kouyate and Ginger Pele will be our centre backs again. Allardyce should surely give Amalfitano a game as at least he's fresh after his suspension. The options would be a five man midfield of Amalfitano, Nolan, Song, Noble and Downing with Sakho alone up front, or playing Cole and Sakho together and dropping a midfielder. Plus there's always the enigma that is Matt Jarvis. He created two of our best chances against Arsenal but also blazed over a good chance and in the second half consistently crossed straight at defenders again. He's great at finding the space to get crosses in, yet always seems to hit the first defender. At £9 million we've yet to see his proper value and it looks like he'll move on in the summer.
As for Sunderland, we have to assume Jermain Defoe will get his usual rousing reception and score, so we'll need at least two. After that at least the international break will give WHU time to get some players fit. On a more positive note I'm taking my elder daughter who has only seen West Ham lose three times in 33 home games and whose last game was the 3-1 destruction of Liverpool. Let's hope she brings us some luck and a much-needed three points.
Plenty of gossip in the papers today. Following the sacking of Gus Poyet at Sunderland the Daily Mail claims that Poyet and his representatives spoke to West Ham last summer about the possibility of replacing Sam Allardyce. The Mail also claims that Poyet advised his son Diego to join West Ham rather than Sunderland. Meanwhile the Daily Telegraphclaims that West Ham are set to pursue David Moyes in the summer after putting his old Everton scout Tony Henry in charge of summer recruitment policy. The Daily Mirror suggests that although Dick Advocaat has been appointed manager of Sunderland for the rest of the season, the Mackems want Big Sam as their long-term choice.
It's doubtful that Diego Poyet would have been an upgrade on Allardyce and I'm not sure if David Moyes would be either. Both men overachieved with initially functional football and reached one cup final each, though Allardyce could argue he did so at Bolton and Blackburn, smaller clubs than Everton. But clearly there's a lot to to play for in the last nine games, both for Big Sam and the team. Meanwhile it's a shame Sunderland couldn't have kept Poyet in charge for another week. We have to beware the "new manager bounce" effect that might boost a group of players keen to impress a new boss. If they could just go 4-0 down at half time again please that would do nicely.
There’s an ominous start to the day as even Fraser has gone
down with injury, though we're not sure if a teacup is involved. So it’s down
to myself, Matt, Lisa and Michael The Fan of the World’s Longest-Running
Science Fiction Serial Whose Name I Forget. After cups of tea at my gaff we arrive at the Emirates to discover Matt
Jarvis has grown a beard during his extensive spell on the bench. We later learn that Adrian has dislocated a finger in the warm-up but bravely plays on.
Arsenal start off dangerously with Walcott running on to
Ozil’s flick and Collins robbing him with what at the time appears to be a
great tackle, though looking at the replays it looks like it might have been a
penalty. But West Ham defend well for the first 15 minutes and Jarvis is having
some joy on the left. Noble plays a great pass through the defence to Jarvis,
who crosses for Noble to connect well with a volley that Ospina scoops wide of the post.
BIG FAT SAM IN A FORD FIESTA
The West Ham fans enjoy themselves by singing “We hate
Tottenham more than you!” and“Big Fat
Sam went to Barcelona in a Ford Fiesta/He came back with Alex Song and said f**k
The rest of the half sees a series of Arsenal chances.
Chambers crosses for Ramsey to prod towards the roof of the net only for Adrian
to tip it over. The Hammers’ custodian then produces decent saves from Walcott
and a Sanchez volley. He then parries an Ozil effort towards Walcott who slices
The half moves into added time and just as it looks like a
good defensive performance will see us go in level Arsenal produce yet more
high-tempo tippy tappy stuff from Ozil and co, as Giroud takes the ball off Ramsey and
powers a great cross shot into the net. Nothing the heroic Adrian could do
about that. Bugger.
West Ham at least have a go at Arsenal for the first 30
minutes of the second half. A Jarvis cross sees the ball stuck a couple of feet
from the Arsenal line, but it’s scrambled clear. Sakho, alone up front, wins a
corner with no support from the midfield as Big Sam goes mental on the
touchline. From the corner a clearance lands at the feet of Jarvis who volleys
YOU'RE NOT FIT TO REFEREE!
Referee Chris Foy has to go off injured, inspiring a great chant
from the West Ham fans of “You’re not fit to referee!”
Ramsey shoots wide for the Gunners. Alex Song, aided by
Noble, is having a fine game in midfield but we need to get something from this
dominant spell. Instead WHU produce a series of botched short corners, an overhit free
kick into the arms of Ospina and a series of Jarvis and Downing crosses that
fail to find their man.
We know Arsenal will suddenly up a gear. Song misplaces a
pass and Collins has to retrieve the situation by booting the ball away for a
throw-in. From the throw Giroud is too quick thinking for our defence, producing a clever
dummy and playing a one-two with Aaron Ramsey for the midfielder to prod home on
THREE-NIL AND YOU STILL DON'T SING!
‘Two-nil and you still don’t sing!” chant the away fans,
morphing effortlessly into “Three-nil and you still don’t sing!” as a six-man
moves ends with Cazorla crossing and the unmarked Flamini drifting into score
at the back post.
Kouyate at least makes a late surge from defence to fire
over and at the final whistle takes the trouble to walk over to the West Ham
fans and give his shirt away. Arsenal look a quality side, but when we’ve had
chances with corners, free kicks and crosses we’ve failed to produce any
We walk back to May Mansions where north London is full of
beer, beer and more beer (and crisps and peanuts), which is at least a notch up
on the Central. We’re up against a team that has just lost 4-0 at home next
week. What could possibly go wrong?
TEAM RATINGS: Adrian
8; O’Brien 5, Collins 6, Kouyate 6, Cresswell 5; Jarvis 6 (amalfitano 5), Nolan 5, Song 7,
Noble 6 (Nene 5), Downing 5; Sakho 6.