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

West Ham 1 - 1 tottenham (And Other Ramblings)

1. An Apology

This review was quite considerably delayed by a minor case of pregnancy, and a major case of "WhothefuckwassupposedtobemarkingMichaelDawson?".

Having, quite reasonably, claimed all the credit for our 5-0 victory at Derby as a result of a previous contre temps with Billy Davies (by the way: whose laughing now Billy-boy?), it is only fair that I hold my hands up and accept the blame for our failure to hold on to this lead.

A prolonged 18 month mocking of Michael Dawson culminated in Mahogony Mick wandering aimlessly into our box, inadvertently being struck in the head by a Jermaine Jenas cross, and somehow equalising whilst Robert Green performed an admirable, if ill timed, impression of a bipolar swan.

I admit - it was my fault. You can't just thumb your nose at Karma like that and expect to get away with it. My only consolation is that Karma is obviously imbued with a decent sense of humour, hence the Jermain Defoe penalty miss. I might mention that again later.

2. Science

When Michael Dawson scored I naturally enough assumed that the sky was filled with fire, locusts were at my window and the World was about to end. I therefore packed my good lady wife and daughter off to the bomb shelter in anticipation of the Earth being destroyed. Regrettably, this stress proved too much for my wife who went into labour and subsequently gave birth to Miss Shark Junior Minor.

This in turn meant that I missed the deadline for writing this review, and Boleyn Beluga went ahead and published the Chelsea preview. So now we're all out of whack for the first time ever in H List history.

Logically as Michael Dawson is the worst footballer in the history of the cosmos, I guess this is the Chaos Theory in action.

3. In A Galaxy Far, Far Away..

I had a great analogy all lined up for this match. If our 2-1 win on the last day of the 05-06 season was Star Wars (fantastic at the start and end), and last years 4-3 defeat was The Empire Strikes Back (loads of bad stuff happens, but when you look at it objectively it was probably the best one) then it follows that this game should have been Return Of The Jedi (not as good as the previous two, but still brilliant, and with the right end result for the good guys).

Clearly, this reckoned without the Dawson Chaos Theory, which ruined the whole bloody thing.

So let's move on.

4. The Statistics

Interesting set of numbers for this game. Listening to the analysis of this game would lead you to believe that tottenham dominated for long periods. Well, read this and then see if you still think that : http://soccernet-akamai.espn.go.com/scoreboard?league=eng.1&date=20071125&refresh=45&cc=5739.

We had 58% of the ball, which is as big a gap as I've seen for a while, and converted that into 15 efforts on goal, as against 9 for the visitors. So far, so "what kind of dominance is that?", but perhaps most mind boggling of all, we conceded 33 (thirty three) fouls in this game, compared to an amazing 5 for tottenham.

I can't even really comprehend how a team can have the ball for just 37 minutes (42%) of the game and essentially be given a foul every single minute. Jermaine Jenas drew more fouls in this game than our entire team. Jermaine Jenas! This man is a fungus. Who the hell is fouling him? And more importantly - why?

Elsewhere, Lucas Neill and Carlton Cole each committed more fouls alone that than the whole tottenham team. I think the message here is that tottenham players fall over with very little encouragement and Mike Riley should be condemned to forever use bags with broken handles. Imagine the frustration.

5. The Opposition

With the exception of our vaguely glorious defeat against Arsenal, this was our toughest home test of the season. tottenham may be mired in a relegation battle but these are always tasty affairs.

Clearly tottenham shouldn't be in the position they are with the quality of players they have available. Keane, Berbatov, Defoe and Bent are all proven Premier League goalscorers and despite having Jermaine Jenas in their midfield they are usually an offensive threat. That wasn't really evident today as they foundered on the twin rocks of Upson and Gabbidon, and were mostly reduced to falling over unconvincingly in our box.

Elsewhere, however, their defence has regressed to a point where Luis Boa Morte could be made to look like a bona fide competent professional footballer.

I had thought it impossible that another centre back could be found in the Universe with as little ability as Michael Dawson. But God Bless 'Em if tottenham haven't found a pretty decent contender in Younes Kaboul. He was directly at fault for our goal, and was eventually removed to - and I must stress this - prevent him continuing to be roasted by our front two of Boa Morte and Carlton Cole. He is my new favourite tottenham player.

6. The Referee

Mike Riley is a hopeless referee. This is not news to anyone who has ever seen a Premier League game officiated by him. He achieved the fairly remarkable feat here of managing to annoy everyone involved in this game.

Now, any decision made by a referee in our favour (The Forces of Good) against tottenham (The Forces of Pure Evil) is intrinsically Right, even when it is not right. Therefore, despite all of the furore around the two penalties, and Robbie Keane's incredible anatomy, Mike Riley was Right, even if perhaps he wasn't right. See? No, I thought not.

Controversial as it may seem, I actually thought that he got the two major penalty decisions in this game correct. Keane was put clean through in the first half and was involved in a challenge with Robert Green. He was clearly offside, but tottenham fans aren't letting that get in the way of some really rather splendid self righteousness. Anyway, although Keane's abdomen was lightly brushed by Green's trailing leg, I have yet to see a human being who loses the use of their legs in that scenario. It was a partial dive, partial anticipation of contact, and never a penalty.

The latter incident saw Lucas Neill give a tug on Jermain Defoe's shirt and despite it being a soft award, it was probably correct. "Justice" was served by Green's marvellous save from the resulting penalty, as 35,000 West Ham fans yelled, waved and pointed in sympathy for our former idol. Welcome back Jermain. Hell of a career move that puts you behind Mido, and then Darren Bent in the pecking order.

7. Cole Patrol

The resurgence in fortune of our favourite scapegoat continues apace. In a match featuring Berbatov, Keane, Bent, Defoe, Ashton and Boa Morte he was, by a distance, the most effective striker on display. No, really.

Quite apart from his goal, which was created after some fine work by Boa Morte, Solano and, most of all, Kaboul, he turned in a splendid all round display. In a memorable barbecuing of Dawson, he won everything in the air and laid the ball off very nicely when in possession.

I'm not suggesting that Dean Ashton is going to spend the rest of his days watching Carlton Cole fire us into the Champions League, but I could go so far as to say that we may have found ourselves an actual proper Premier League striker.

Incredible as it may seem, he was ably assisted by Luis Boa Morte. He was all action, as ever, but unusually he was not all useless either. A very neat lay off lead to the goal, and he was unfortunate not to increase our lead shortly after, particularly as it required a display of actual skill from Paul Robinson.

8. Kudos

To everyone really. I am especially impressed by Nolberto Solano who would seem to be exactly the kind of neat, incisive midfielder that would really help any team unless they were managed by Sam Allardyce.

I especially have enjoyed seeing Matthew Upson turn into an actual living breathing Premier League centre half. His handling of Berbatov was commendable - his jumping in competition with Michael Dawson less so.

And yes, Robert Green rules ok..............

1 comment:

  1. Who are you and why are you posting on my blog?