Category Archives: West Ham United

At last a decent home performance – Spurs 3 West Ham 1

After recent results and West Ham producing results to beat our points tally I fancied anything could have happened at White Hart Lane this afternoon. On previous visits I had seen Andy Carroll silenced by Michael Dawson and tweeted as much on our journey to the ground never expecting to see him named in the side.

I got a text regarding the starting line up from a golfing mate saying “AVB must have been listening to us.” “Christ”, I replied “do you think that he heard everything we said…..”

So Michael eventually gets a start and after a tentative opening I thought he had a good game, with some deft headers and decent distribution. Not only that but we seemed to have some leadership across the back and he was talking to Walker who had his best game for some time. I am no way against Billy Gallas but at his age he should be supporting the group not playing every game.

It was also interesting to see Vertonghen moving back to left back. Is this an admission that last weeks back four was misjudged? Whatever, I was a little surprised to see Huddlestone starting after Dembele came on in Rome but he did and in the second half played his best 45 minutes for some time.

At last Bale and Lennon got into the game and combined well to create goals Lennon squaring to allow Defoe to score his second when a shot might have produced a goal for himself. In the first half a great run from Bale produced a blistering shot which smashed onto the crossbar.

Our first half performance saw a number of long distance shots not causing West Ham too much trouble until Defoe who was abused by the travelling fans for most of the afternoon picked up the ball on the right and carried it before unleashing a brilliant shot which flew into the net. Answered in the appropriate manner they fell silent for a period.

Our second from Bale saw him play a deft chip over Jaaskelainen which the keeper knew had beaten him and the result but could do nothing about. The through ball was a delightful chip from Dempsey who played a much better game today. A third followed after we broke and Lennon’s pace outstripped the defence before he squared for Defoe to add his second.       

Unfortunately the clean sheet wasn’t to be after we gave the ball away in a needless manner that allowed a back stick cross that Carroll was able to loop over Lloris leaving him stranded and like Jaaskelainen before him knowing the end result. Apart from one palm out punch Lloris looked more comfortable as the game went on and came and collected more than once.  

We finished with Sandro being carried off and taking oxygen but understand that he will be available for Wednesday when he will certainly be needed. Today West Ham weren’t at their best, in fact in parts they were quite poor, but we needed a performance to clear out the memory banks last weeks defeat. We got that and during the second half Tommy was knocking it around quite comfortably in his best performance for some time.

So the positives, better tempo throughout, no sitting off and trying to protect a lead, playing more as a team than in parts of previous games and scoring some goals and some decent ones to boot. Best home performance of the season so far and we need to continue it on Wednesday night to keep the pressure on those struggling above us.

Come on you Spurs!

Stout defending keeps us out: Tottenham 0 West Ham 0

12.30 and 17.30 games have a habit of being difficult to create atmosphere for the home team but it had little effect on the team yesterday. Our first half performance was a delight as we moved the ball around really well and peppered the West Ham goal with shots. Our only disappointment was a couple of stray passes from Corluka when Lennon was in good position to take further advantage and Defoe failing to take advantage of Lennon’s shot as it came back off the post.

We started well and Dawson was unlucky when he curled a shot towards the top corner only to see it come back off the bar before Defoe was unlucky to flick a shot just wide of the post from Bale’s low cross. Modric and Van Der Vaart were running the show in the centre despite stout resistance from Parker and other West Ham midfielders and the game was free flowing. 

As a consequence it was difficult to find room at the edge of or in the box to create straightforward chances so we were restricted to more speculative efforts, two from Modric and one from Lennon that went across the goal and just wide and a sharp effort from Van Der Vaart from a corner that was just wide. We also had a couple of free kicks but both were tame efforts and easily saved by Green.

Yet it wasn’t all one way traffic. Cole had two opportunities to open West Ham’s account firing tamely allowing Gomes to save and then lobbing over when he was played in between Gallas and Dawson once more. We also had Mike Dean trying to make an impression when asking Gareth Bale to leave the field to change his under armour. 

We’ve all heard of the rule about the same colour being worn and from Paxton Road it was impossible to see that they weren’t right. Yet once he was off the field the shorts came off to reveal dark under armour before they came off to reveal the white pair. Having changed Dean would then not allow him to return to the field until the ball went out which it did when Van Der Vaart put it out. 

Dean also displayed some strange decisions in the second half when Sandro was injured. The ball had gone out and Bale indicated he would throw it to Ekotto who would launch it back towards Green. Not good enough. The ball had to be placed in field so that a kick could ensue producing the same result. Similarly when Parker went for a challenge and ended up hitting the hoarding the game was brought to a halt for treatment despite the fact the injury took place off the pitch and the player remained off the pitch. Yes it was a tough knock and maybe considered a head injury but it looked like Parker was to be welcomed back on before the re-start.

In the second half West Ham’s determined resistance continued and was maybe better as our play lacked some of the fluidity that it had in the first period. They also looked sharp on the counter attack and Gomes was called upon to make some important saves none more so than from Ba when the ball was going in before he tipped it around the post. 

Green too was in top form saving from Defoe at close range when the striker should have been able to bury the opportunity. He also was called into action after Pav had replaced Van Der Vaart on a couple of occasions but kept his best for last when tipping onto the bar Bale’s free kick as the game reached is conclusion. 

So another game with a multitude of chances producing us nothing on the scoreboard but a point to the tally after a clean sheet. On another day this could have been a handsome home win but not yesterday. Yet again stout and determined defending proved our undoing in an extremely entertaining game. Sometimes a less interesting encounter and three points might be more welcome but at least we got a point for it looked like one of those days when a slip might hand them all to our opponent.

Could we have done better? Certainly Defoe would have wished to secure his 100thgoal and could easily have done so. Had he a better left foot he would have also had more chances as on occasions he lost the opportunity trying to force it right to let loose a shot. Yet I had wanted to see him start and was not disappointed that he got a full 90 minutes. Van Der Vaart also played very deep for much of his 70 minutes on the field and had Crouch started with him would not have been in range to convert any assists. 

Elsewhere Bale had an early run but in the second half seemed maybe a little short of match fitness during the second half. Maybe it was a lack of underclothing!

So as in previous weeks we are relying in the performance of others to keep our hopes of fourth spot alive. Recent performances against those drawn into the relegation battle have proved more favourable to them rather than us and we may live to regret this. 2 points out of 9 is not what we wanted but it is difficult to knock yesterday’s performance too much.     

Lets burst those bubbles: Spurs V West Ham preview

We have a really good record at home against West Ham not losing since 1999 yet I have some trepidation about tomorrow’s game. When we lost at Upton Park earlier this year the Hammers put on an extremely committed performance and deserved to win yet before and after were absolutely clueless hence their basement position.

Yet in recent weeks the signing of Demba Ba and fitness of Thomas Hitzelsperger have transformed their side to the point where Robbie Keane must be concerned he will be a permanent bench man at the Hammers should they stay up. Therefore we should expect another tough test where before Christmas we might be looking at the chance of an easy three points.

Unfortunately the problem rests with us due to an inability of our front men to put away the chances in recent times and then when we have our generosity at the back to allow sides back into the game. Yet if we are to finish our season with the required flurry its important that we put this right starting tomorrow. 

Last time out at Wolves we managed to score three with Pav and Defoe in the side.  All our goals were well taken and Defoe’s efforts something out of nothing. But in that game there was no Van Der Vaart so it was easy to go 4-4-2. Tomorrow Rafa is likely to start so this in many ways pushes Peter Crouch forward to partner him and I’m concerned about the damage that this does to Defoe, particularly as he did not feature at all against AC Milan.

West Ham can be sloppy at the back. Tomkins is improving and will be an excellent defender but inevitably still lacks experience. Upson makes more mistakes than he should, Bridge lacks match practice and Green can make as many strange decisions as Gomes yet unless we capitalise on any opportunities awarded we are going to limp home. 

In all our recent games Van Der Vaart has not managed more than an hour which for me points to a lack of match fitness. Yet we still start him irrespective of this fact. I appreciate you should start your best team but if this leads to a lack of confidence in others does it really help. The fact that Defoe scored two brilliant goals and hit a post in the last Premier League game would point to another start in the next game but it never happened. So what happens to his confidence if he does not start tomorrow?

How about leaving Rafa on the bench for the first 60 and giving Defoe a run out?

Looking elsewhere I fancy the midfield will feature Bale on the left for the first time in a while. Against Wolves he looked good during his cameo but understandably had some stiffness afterwards. With Lennon having been our best attacking midfielder over recent matches I am looking forward to see how stretched West Ham get by these two which should allow Modric to come inside and cause them problems. 

That leaves a straight choice between Jenas and Sandro for the defensive slot and after his recent games I would be shocked if Sandro was not asked to continue. With Palacios sidelined after a knee operation it is a straight choice between these two for a few weeks and I expect both to offer strong performances as both look to be in good form.

At the back I would not expect any changes with Gallas and Dawson continuing and Charlie and Benny playing fullback. Interestingly Ledley is listed as injured but I might be wrong but I thought he was a sub against Milan. Behind them Gomes and it might be a busy day for them if Parker, Hitzlesperger and Noble have any say in the matter. 

So the midfield battle must be won and it won’t be an easy one. In this game attack must be the best form of defence but we must make sure that we capitalise upon the midfield chances we create. If we do that then we can win the game comfortably but if we don’t then we make it hard for ourselves at a time when we need to start knocking out the victories. 

My team for tomorrow:

                          Gomes

    Corluka      Gallas     Dawson     Ekotto

 Lennon           Sandro       Modric       Bale

                   Defoe              Crouch

Prediction: I’m hopeful we have our shooting boots on and come through 3-1 after a derby full of passion.