1. The Road Less Travelled
In preparation for tomorrows game I thought I'd take a quick peek at last years Away League table at http://www.premierleague.com/fapl.rac?command=forwardOnly&nextPage=actimStatistics.
Now I knew we were pretty tasty but not to the extent of finishing 5th in the league, with 7 wins and 4 draws. We were better than tottenham, Arsenal and, gulp, Fulham (who managed a whopping 7 points all year). Check out the state of your flabber - because mine was ghasted when I read that. Oh, me of little faith.
Recent contests between these two sides have been fairly one sided. 2004/05 saw us win 3-2 at home and 2-1 at Vicarage Road on the last day of the season. The first game was noticeable for Watford managing the previously impossible feat of letting Sergiy Rebrov score against them. In addition, they let us score from a corner and come back from 2-0 down. Which is Zeus's way of telling Watford fans - "You're not in my good books".
The previous season saw us win 4-0 at home and draw 0-0 away. Anton Ferdinand was on the bench for the second game behind Ian Pearce. No wonder it stormed that day, the Gods were probably trying to kill Pardew.
BUT. Get this kids - in 28 League games between the two teams we've won 20! We also have an unbeaten ten match run at Vicarage Road on the line tonight. Yowzah, that's a period of extended competence that confounds all my previous experience of following West Ham. Of course, this is still West Ham so the last time they beat us they did it to the tune of 5-0, in 1984/85.
3. Take Cole To Watford
Carlton Cole is averaging 1 goal every 5 minutes whilst playing for us. So if starts tomorrow he should, BY RIGHTS, score 18 goals. I suggest you play him Pards, we could get a draw.
4. Promotion Blues
Promoted teams haven't done too well in their first home games in recent years. Last year we beat Blackburn, Wigan lost to Chelski, and Sunderland lost to Charlton. Of course, Wigan and us are professional football teams whilst Sunderland are a collection of Parcelforce drivers so I won't compare us any further.
Reading and Sheffield Utd survived the weekend and Watford will be hoping to do the same. Over the last 3 years the promoted teams have amassed a record of 2 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats so the odds aren't stacked in their favour. But, then we're predictable in the same way that cats are so there is hope for them.
Our first away game last year saw us draw 0-0 at Newcastle. This game was notable for Paul Konchesky getting a red card, later rescinded when West Ham appealed using the arcane argument that tackling a Newcastle player isn't an automatic sending off.
This game marked our first clean sheet of the season away from Upton Park. Our second came on May 1 at West Brom, our last away game of the season. A piffling little run of 18 Premiership away games without failing to concede.
5. Don't Give Him Any Leeway
Lee Bowyer was Gerrardic against Charlton. Now there was precedent for this as he was voted Player of the Year at Newcastle last season. You could say that's a bit like being nominated as the best singer in Girls Aloud, but we should respect them (Geordies, not Girls Aloud) as they love their football up there after all.
We'll win. We'd better, as we're away to Liverpool on Saturday and I'm looking forward to that in the same way I'm anticipating my next trip to a funeral parlour. If we do win, it will be by one goal. The last time we won away from home in the league by more than the odd goal was at Ipswich on Jan 1 2005 in the Championship, and the last time in the Premiership was seemingly on Sep 23 2000 at Coventry when we won 3-0 (I'm caveating that one as our results for 2000-2002 appear not to be listed anywhere on the web. Which is weird when you consider what you can find on the Web........).
Nicolas Anelka and Sam Allardyce? I don't foresee any problems there whatsoever.........tottenham play Sheffield United tonight. The Blades are the only football team I've ever seen who try and play the entire game using only their elbows.........Mrs Shark read this column for the first time last night. Her only question? "What's a Djimi Traore?". My answer? - "French/Malian mammal, latterly found in the UK. Has no discernible motor skills. "....