Firstly, I’m quite proud of the title of this piece, it can function in multiple ways, take a second to think about that, oh you agree it’s quite brilliant, ok good.
Last week was monumental for us all, there is no denying that, and the amount of “firsts” we seemed to accomplish was rewarding, but mainly relieving. First win of the season, first away win since August 2009, first league point, first win against “Arry, and first win against our bitterest PL rivals Spurs in what seems to be an eternity…and this time around there wasn’t a dodgy East End lasagna in sight.
So, I gave Avram a bit of a hard time in one of my previous posts, but the positives coming out of this club in the last week or so also earns him a pat on the back. The draw at Stoke, the win in the cup against Sunderland, and now a display that was unmatched in passion and fervor for as long as I can remember against our arch enemies, have all contributed to a nice feel good vibe amongst us fans. It’s still a long way to Christmas though, and that should be when we really know what kind of season we’re looking at.
But hey, lets stay on the positives, and relish this result for a little, it’s been so long since we’ve beaten Tottenham, and been so long since we’ve seen our team play that well, that I just have to let it marinate.
Greeno – Rob was a giant in goal with a couple of classy saves, and one world class “howthefuckdidhegettothat” reaction save from a 2000mph flying volley from inside the box. His decision making was excellent, his distribution was good, and he flipped off the press box at the end of the game earning him extra brownie points. In fairness he’s been slaughtered by the press in recent months, everything from his slip up in the USA game to him seeking a priest in his personal life has been inked all over the back pages of some of the rags, and I can fully understand his anger against the way he has been treated. Rob, you’re a great keeper, and your charity work in Africa shows that you are a good man, I’m proud to have such an ambassador at our club. 9
Jacobsen – What a difference having a real right back makes eh? Lars has been brilliant so far, his positional sense is excellent, and he’s fitting in well at the back. He made one brilliant last ditch tackle against Crouch on Saturday that was noteworthy, and he doesn’t give the ball up nearly as easy as Faubert (who always seems to have the ball stuck under his feet). He’s not gonna light the world on fire, but I’m more than happy with a competent RB that doesn’t leak goals and steps up when called upon which is exactly what he did on Saturday. 7
Gabbidon – He’s not a natural left back, but fair play to him he’s doing well there. He’s got pace too which helped to subdue Lennon, and he uses the touchline well to pin his opponents in. Good performance. 7
Upson – Decent performance from our captain, looks a lot more competent with Da Costa next to him. Won a good amount in the air, and commanded the line. 7.5
Da Costa – For me has been a revelation since coming back in to the starting 11. 7’13” Crouch won one ball in the air that I counted, and he countlessly won ball after ball on the deck too, breaking down Spurs’ movement and just being a royal pain in the arse. His distribution from the back is also very good, and there’s a noticeable difference in Upson’s performances since he has partnered him. He’s earned his starting place in my book, and our whole defence looks 100% better in the course of seven days. Brilliant stuff…how high can that man jump?!! 9
Defence Overall: Much much better, playing as a unit, they got stuck in, and made Tottenham revert to long distance shots. Superb.
LBM – The three people who read this blog will know that I’m not the biggest fan of Luis, but to his credit he’s knuckled down and not looked like half the crazy BSE-infected bastard that he did last year. Against Spurs he made some nice passes, pressured their players, and filled the job that Avram gave him. Credit where it’s due. 7
Dyer – Off early again due to “dizziness”, he must’ve had the lasagna, and of course the one place our medial staff didn't check him in the last 3 years was his ears. Shame, because he’s been looking good, and you just have that feeling that once he gets one goal he could be on his way to a great season. 5
Parker – I will admit that I spontaneously joygasmed when we kept Scott Parker during the end of the transfer window, he is a solid player and has the attributes and attitude that others need to emulate. His work rate on Saturday was excellent, he was everywhere, tackling, passing, breaking down the play, and his game can only get better with strikers that give him either a pass or a foil. Right now he is Mr. West Ham. 8
Noble – This may be the best performance Marky has put in, he did everything that Parker did and more. If not for a top class save from Cudicini 9
Midfield Overall: They didn’t stop, tireless, aggressive, passionate, and just brilliant all day long. Parker and Noble had their best game together.
Pokemon – Great performance, well taken goal, and seems to be an intelligent striker who can create some space and is good in the air. He worked his socks off and for that alone gets a 9
Obinna – Change I can believe in. He was immense and a constant threat all day. He’s not afraid to shoot, he passes well, and his link up play with Pokemon and our midfield really made a difference. The shot where he out muscled Hutton and took on his left on the bounce was excellent and deserved a goal. If he can put in that much effort every game he will get goals. 9
Strikers Overall: I honestly believe that our strikers made the difference in this game. Having two strikers that make runs, get into space, keep the ball, hold it up for support, and are inventive takes a lot of pressure off of our midfield and defence. Just having the ball up the opponent’s end of the field for longer can make a difference. But now you see that given an outlet our midfield can produce some excellent opportunities, and Saturday we looked more than ever this season that we have goals in us. This change was much needed, and not to slate Carlton Cole who has done a hard job on his own essentially up top, but these two are both mobile, they both like the ball, and they’re not trying to out muscle people on every play, they also use their wit, speed, and skill – having these extra tools in your belt gives us more options and makes our attacking play more potent. One more thing, they look to be on the same wavelength, when was the last time we had two strikers we could say that about? Hartson and Kitson?
Barrera – Played ok, he slid two beautifully weighted balls into the box causing confusion between the defence and the keeper that nearly paid off. Looks comfortable on the ball, just needs to realize that in the PL you’re going to get hit, it aint continental football, so needs to be a little stronger. Can’t fault him though, came on for Dyer, got stuck in and did a job. 7
Cole – Came on for Pokemon late in the game, but did well to slow the game down and run the clock off when he was in possession. His off the ball movement is still incredibly frustrating. 6
Kovac – Came on for the tiring and always on a yellow LBM. Hustled and bustled and generally made a nuisance of himself, but can’t say he stood out. 6
Man of the match? Who knows there were a couple of them. I suppose I’d have to say Noble edges it, but Da Costa gets man of the week for me.
Overall a brilliant team performance, we had leaders all over the pitch, and it’s nice to finally get 3 points and get off the bottom of the table. If this is the kind of performances that we can expect then who knows, we could be pushing for a top 6 place this year. Consistency is going to be the key, and us being West Ham, keeping injury free too will determine a large part of our season. Upton Park needs to return to fortress status, and going away should be a little easier now that we’ve beaten our year long duck. Like I said I’ll reserve total judgement until Christmas, years of being a West Ham supporter has taught me patience, but it would be wrong not to be optimistic after Saturday. Our reaction to playing Fulham next week should be interesting, after all it’s not hard to get pumped up against a team you know every supporter hates like Spurs, but it will be the results against teams that no one really gives a toss about like Fulham that define our season.
Never a dull moment.