Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Portsmouth vs West Ham: 14 October 2006 (Match Preview and Other Ramblings)

1. Gathering Gooners

Back to the grind then. Another rudimentary away trip against the Premiership's 4th place team, who exude those most un-Redknapp like qualities of being both sound defensively and hard to beat.

One thing that has always characterised Harry Redknapp's teams is his determination to fill them with ex-Arsenal players. Winterburn, Campbell, Wright, Kanu, Merson and Suker have all popped up with him at the end of their careers and I'd be willing to stick a few quid on Thierry Henry finishing with one last, horrific season for Pompey at the age of 37.

He'll still score against us though.

2. History

Not much to go on here. Last year we drew 1-1 at Fratton Park, utilising the always deadly James Collins for our equaliser (we went 1 down, naturally). The reverse fixture ended in a 4-2 defeat, featuring a perfomance so dismal that I was forced to pour battery acid down my neck. I can confirm it does smart a little.

3. Ancient History

While we're on the subject of trips to the South Coast I can also confirm that the coldest I have ever been in my life was on 8 December 1990 at Fratton Park. We managed a 1-0 victory courtesy of a late Trevor Morley header, and I lost all feeling in the lower half of my body, an afliction that appears to affect Jermaine Jenas to this day.

Another reason I recall this game vividly, aside from my heroically inadequate wax jacket, was that Ian Bishop broke his ribs after about 70 minutes and had to play on through the blizzard as we had used all our subs. Never let anybody tell you that he was a soft touch. By comparison, Rio Ferdinand once missed a game because he strained a knee whilst watching TV.

Anyway - I can never return to Fratton Park. Just thinking about it makes my teeth chatter and I involuntarily yell "Why wouldn't you put a roof on, you buffoons!" at passing strangers.

4. The Case For The Defence

Pompey have played 7 games and kept 5 clean sheets. We have played 7 games and kept none and are currently on a run of 1 clean sheet in 21 Premiership away games. I can honestly say that a boring 0-0 draw would be a step in the right direction tomorrow, although there is more chance of George W Bush using the word "verisimilitude" in it's correct context than that happening.

Whilst I am opposed to changing players simply for the sake of it I would replace Danny Gabbidon with James Collins if the latter is fit. Gabbidon has been coasting for a while now and still doesn't look fully recovered from his summer hernia operation. He was also a part of the Welsh team that lost 5-1 to Slovakia in the week and I'm assuming post traumatic stress disorder is not good for footballers.

Anton Ferdinand was arrested yesterday on suspicion of assault. Good to see he is trying to acquire the mother of all footballing accessories - a criminal record. Of course, what's truly criminal about his whole affair is that he was at Faces nightclub in the first place.

Anton - you earn good money, get yourself down to Chinawhite with the rest of the Premiership, son.

5. Customs and Exercise

Apparently, John Paintsil will not be available for this game because he went back to Ghana in the week and upon his return to Heathrow was stopped from entering the country by Immigration officials, as he only had a copy of his work permit. Aside from the startling revelation that we actually have Immigration officials in the UK what is really interesting about this is that it makes him only the second stupidest right back in the fixture.

You see, everyone's favourite ex Hammer and new Pompey defender Glen Johnson turned up to Heathrow last year without his passport. For a Champions League fixture. At Barcelona. And you can imagine Jose Mourinho being his usual laid back self about that.

6. You're Not Very Good

Pompey are a tad inexplicable in that they feature players with the dubious qualities of Andy O'Brien and Benjani Mwaruwari, yet they are still doing very well. Now I think regular readers will know that this column does not lower itself to sweeping generalisations or smart arsed comments with no factual basis. I would hope that you all know me well enough to realise that anything on this list is backed up by hard statistical evidence. I am merely a window for you all into Premiership life, if you will.

Therefore, when I say that Andy O'Brien is comprised entirely of chewing gum you should know that I have hard data to back it up.

7. The Drugs Don't Work

Francis Lampard is apparently on the shortlist for FIFA World Player of the Year. Hang on a minute. Who's on drugs here? Me - because I can't tell if I'm hallucinating, or them because I might not be? 'Cos someone sure as hell is.

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