So, here we have it; the un-Happy Hammers at home. Along
with Villa (home) and West Brom (away), this game stands out as one of
those where we now have to grab the 3 points. We'll pick up points
elsewhere too, but the enemy are starting to win a few now, and we must
keep mixing it with Chelsea; this is a must-win!
A bald, thumping, Lee Carsley header was enough to confine West Ham to
another home defeat back in October, and was part of the solid six-game
winning run that saw the pride flood back into our beloved club.
That was no fluke; to be going into this match 4th in the table is
testament to a great season. However, as David Moyes reminded us
recently, unless we finish with a flurry, there'll be a few 'what might
have been' groans in the pubs on Walton Road on the last day of the
season. Seventh position just doesn't seem acceptable now.
The manager has respectfully stuck to the rule of keeping a winning
team together but — with us crucially failing to take all 3 points on
offer at The Riverside — 'red-hair-we-don't-care' has the option to
change it around a bit. I hope he does!
The big question is will The Moyesiah stick to one of his beloved
Scottish prodigals, Gemmill, or go for a more energetic midfield duo
fuelled by Gravesen and the battling Bruce Li? I would certainly
give this one to the Dane and Bruce, as Gemmill's patient approach would
only ease the pressure on a still very youthful West Ham midfield. I
say Moyesy has to enforce his high-energy policy and stamp our game firmly
on the away team from the first whistle.
This should also be the first home game for a long time where Kev will
partner Radz from the off. SuperKev had an indifferent appearance at
Boro but at home I'd like to see their mix of cleverness and pace
unleashed on West Ham's rocky defence.
Our own defence will need to stem the flow on Saturday. It's not
what I'd call dodgy — not by a long way — but goals at the right end
are disguising a lack of clean sheets of late: we have conceded 4 and
scored 4 in our last 3 games. This is a key area of the park — the
ever-nimble Defoe can be a threat with the right service. Yobo
handled him well in October but is unlikely to be in the starting line-up
Talking of dodgy defences... Gary 'I can't even tackle a rod' Breen
finally played in West Ham's first team last weekend. This ex-World
Cup mercenary chose to openly snub an offer from us last summer and can't
expect a Champagne reception. Kev, Radz and a sell-out Goodison will
be his living nightmare.
And what will Glenn and Co offer going forward?
Firstly any manager that doesn't play Les Ferdinand at Goodison should
be sent off for psycho-analysis. Clearly, Sir Les is West Ham's best
chance of scoring this weekend. He only had his arm in a sling last
time he scored here! I reported in January that we might have to
face the Goodison goal-grabber again, we'd just finished playing Spurs
twice and he signs for West Ham; typical! If he scores on Saturday,
that'll be 16 goals against the Blues from one player — a record!!
Roeder recently said "As for Les, I use the description that he has
been a breath of fresh air — especially to Jermain." Does
In all seriousness, the signals are that we welcome a poor team on
Saturday. They're not half the side that finished 7th last year and
we stormed them 5-0 at home with Gravesen man of the match — it was a
true blue party!
The only bad omen is that there'll be no West Ham strikers left to
catch their crosses this time round. Stubbsy will have to nod them
out because Special Agent Di Canio had another row with his manager.
Will the Hammers mirror a Sheff Wed freefall under Di Canio's
curse? And can EVERTON reside in that well-earned Champions League
If the mental Dane and Bruce Li disrupt the potential of Lomas and
Carrick, I predict 3-1 to the Toffeemen. Scorers? For us the 3
R's: Radz, Roon and Rhino (pen), with guess who scoring a late consolation
for the Clarets.
Disappointing Blues fail to Convince
Living down here in Ipswich, I get to see the Blues far less than
I would like. Needless to say, having witnessed the other 0-0 bore
at Goodison this season against Bolton, I was present and not very
correct again for an even more desperate display against Roeder's
Our league position virtually exempts David Moyes from criticism.
However, I was baffled by the return of McBride to the starting line-up and by the continued perseverance with Gemmill with the more
accomplished Li Tie on the bench. Good though it was to see Hibbert
return, it looked a little soon; to be fair, the news of
Pistone's surgery explains this change. Otherwise, despite Moyes's
apparent intention to freshen things up with a few changes, it was as
Booked: Thomas Gravesen. No further incidents to report.
It was good to see the triple substitution take place early in
the half. This was a radical move on Moyes's part, and really does
emphasise the utter poverty of the first-half display.
When we're poor, we can be very poor, and the limitations of the
'wide midfield' players being defenders — and particularly when the
full backs are the useless Unsworth and a half fit Tony Hibbert — result in little or no threat down the flanks.
With Gemmill in the
centre, there's not a lot coming through the middle either... so we're
reduced to hoofs in the direction of a striker. With McBride's
consumate inability to hold the ball up, that invariably means lost
Anyway, the substitutes livened proceedings up, but even
Rooney appeared to be having an off day, with his first touch
deserting him on several occasions.
Probably the nearest we came to scoring was from a Stubbs diving
header which went a foot wide. Other than this, we were mostly
restricted to long-range efforts which Calamity James dealt with
comfortably enough. Only a typical Radzinski effort, cutting in from
the right, offered him a serious test. On other occasions, our
shooting was just woeful; Li Tie shanked one horribly of his shin
pad when well-placed, and Watson made a poor effort at a finish,
the ball hitting his standing foot after some good work to get into
the position for the shot.
Really, that's all there is to be said about it.
While others complain about fixture congestion, I'm sure our
current form isn't being helped by the stop-start nature of our
season at present — and we have another two-week break looming...
Given the season we've had, and how far above expectations we've
performed, this just goes down as a bad day at the office. However,
after maintaining a top-six position since November, it would now be
a huge disappointment if the season were to end in anti-climax.
go into a tough run in in pretty poor shape. Moyes, however, will no
doubt have had some strong words to say, and a game against the
stuttering Champions has to be big enough to lift the players.
Let's hope for an unlikely double over the Gunners to keep us
above the other lot.
Come on you Blues.