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, November 29, 2007

Chelsea vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 01/12/07

1. To The Manor Born

Before we get down to business, it's only right to send a note of congratulations to our exalted leader and his good lady wife who this week have welcomed a new addition to their sea-dwelling shiver.

Thankfully, they are not the species of shark where the young actually eat their way out of the mother - the dry-cleaning bills alone would be astronomical. This may also explain why you've read two back-to-back previews without a review of the Spurs match in-between.

I know..... Priorities, Mr Shark??

2. Coming In A Close Second...

So, you wait all season for a bunch of 1st class morons to willingly offer themselves as the target of all your pent-up frustrations, and then two come along at once.

After last week's visit of Tottenham (I'm now in love with Robert Green - Lucas Neill will have to wait), Saturday sees us travel across the capital to Stamford Bridge - the Mecca of fair weather football fans everywhere.

An altogether more taxing proposition than Spurs, they still somehow manage to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season whilst accommodating a roly-poly bucket of chip fat in central midfield.

3. Little Known Fact

Forget Hercules, Big Daddy or even disgraced drugs cheat Shadow from Gladiators - Claude Makelele has recently been proven to be the strongest man in all human history.

Even the feats of Atlas (forced to carry the entire Earth on his back), pale into insignificance when compared with Claude, who has been forced to carry Big Fat Frank these last few years.

4. The Second Coming

Now that Jose Mourinho has walked across the Bay of Biscay back to Portugal (maybe he'll levitate all the way back to Soho Square?), it has been a few weeks since his Israeli successor took the reins.

An altogether less charismatic man resembling a world-weary Mr Toad on the verge of a massive heart attack, Avram Grant seems competent enough having managed to steady the ship after a few big name players blubbed uncontrollably upon Jose's departure.

He deserves particular credit for issuing 10 of his first team with anti-gravity boots in order to combat the huge gravitational pull generated by that planet-sized buffoon in central midfield.

5. How do you spell 'statistician'?

Unfortunately for us, Chelsea go into this game as the Premier League's form side claiming 16 out of a possible 18 points, whereas we are yet to beat a top half team this season having drawn one and lost three of our four matches against those currently in the top 10.

Interestingly, both teams are on the joint longest run of 7 games since conceding more than one goal in a Premier League fixture and we've also kept clean sheets in 4 of our 6 away games this year. But there's a good chance there'll be goals this Saturday one way or the other.

Disappointingly, we have only won 1 of our last 10 London derbies, albeit a season-saving victory away to Arsenal last year.

The most interesting fact of all, however is that seismologists report Stamford Bridge has provided Europe's biggest earth tremors around their central midfield area since John Candy, Hattie Jakes and Luther Vandross rode to town in Monster Trucks.

6. A History Lesson

Last season saw us lose both home and away - 1-0 at the Bridge followed by a disappointing 4-1 loss at home, thanks to a sublime effort from Shaun Wright-Phillips after Tevez had given us an inkling.

We haven't had much joy out of Chelsea these last few seasons, not since Paulo DiCanio took them to school with a glorious brace a few years back (who could forget his left-footed thunderbolt?)

Since then we have often faced up to the challenge with some gritty performances, but have been left wanting thanks to the obvious shortcomings in quality and depth.

For this fixture at least, we will be spared the horror that is Chelsea's luminous yellow away kit - a kit I'm sure specifically designed to mask the innumerable custard stains down the front of Lampard's shirt (I think that was actually in his contract).

You could say we're due some sort of result and perhaps this season, with our newfound ability to look dangerous on the break away from home, could provide that result.

Still, it seems unfair that teams are expected to play against a side who can call upon a porkpie-powered vortex in central midfield with the ability to suck in and obliterate any and all surrounding matter.

7. The Emperor's New Blues

Roman The Shady Oligarch's summer purchases have thus far failed to set the footballing world alight: Pizarro seems nothing special, Sidwell is now a small fish in a big pond and Ben-Haim is still wandering around the Kings Road completely bewildered.

There's no disputing that Chelsea have some top players, but I think it would be inaccurate to classify them as a team of world-beaters.

There are undeniable world class performers (Cech, Drogba), but there are more overrated, above-average players (Terry, that huge pasty that rolls around midfield), topped off with a few former Kings of Europe well passed their best and happy to collect a truckload of roubles each week (Shevchenko, Ballack).

Personally I think that Man Utd and Liverpool wield the more exciting squads and Arsene Wenger could seemingly turn Jossy's Giants into title contenders. It would appear that the dominance The Blues enjoyed from 2004 - '06 could well be a thing of the past, although they do have an annoying knack of grinding out results.

I still maintain that the string of devoured corpses strewn across central midfield, covered in full-fat mayonnaise do provide the home team with an unfair advantage.

8. Pork Chop And Change

Any players lucky enough to survive the avalanche of car-sized biscuit crumbs falling from Lampard's chin, should face up to provide an intriguing midfield battle this weekend.

Sunday saw The Lesser Spotted Scott Parker come on for the last half an hour in place of Mark Noble, who appeared a little jaded after his recent hernia op. Parker looked neat and tidy without being spectacular, but could provide us with the solid foundation from which we could spring into defence for 89 minutes.

Etherington and McCartney did a decent job against Spurs but struggled at times to cope with the pace of Aaron Lennon. Joe Cole doesn't pose the same speedy threat and a bag of tricks is easier to cynically hack down than a flying zephyr. Plus, defensively he's not the best - Matty seemed a little reluctant to take on Lennon's pace down the wing on Sunday.

If we can show up fit, run our socks off and avoid being a part of Big Fat Frank's Cannibalistic Finger Buffet, we could still be in with a shout come the final 10 minutes.

9. Hmmm...

What with Parker, Mullins, Noble and Bowyer potentially filling our central midfield spots, we're crying out for a genuinely creative midfielder come the January transfer window.

10. In Summary

Harry Redknapp and Peter Storrie are crooks.

But we all knew that.


  1. Allegedly, surely?!

  2. Dot Cotton1:35 PM

    Great preview, much better than the dross dished out by Tubs when he can be bothered to write one.

    I bloody hope Santa brings us a creative midfielder. I can't honestly say I've seen a decent home game this season where the passes have flowed and the opposition have been carved open by breath taking attacking football. We saw glimpses in the second half against Boro but that's about it.

    West Ham has always had at least one flair player who makes you move to the edge of your seat in anticipation at what they might do with the ball.

    I would argue that we currently have no one of that ilk in the squad, apart from Boa Morte who has been tremendous for us this year.................

    I would also like to congratulate Mr Riley on his brilliant impression of Keith Hackett on Sunday.

  3. This post brightened my wintry day...I will forever picture Frank Lampard salivating over baked goods and terrorizing opposition with gluttonous habits. My sincere thanks!