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

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blackburn Rovers vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 09/12/2007

1 . Three Strikes And Out

So, this is the third preview in a row.

I thought to myself, 'HeadHammer Shark has just become a father for the second time, so he's bound to be off the radar for a while and will rightly be taking some time away from his other responsibilities'.

Then I read that Mr Kipling was having a yard sale and it all clicked into place. My patience wears thin.

2. Happy Birthday To You

This weekend marks the first year of Alan Curbishley's tenure as West Ham manager.

It's hard to fully assess his time at the helm as the first 6 months were spent desperately trying to cling to top flight football - something he achieved and for which he must be given credit.

Having been given the funds Pardew must have been hankering for, Curbs has now been able to build a squad of his liking and with that comes added responsibility should they not succeed. He has been vocal in his opinion that a top 10 finish would be a successful season, but I think we're all secretly hoping for ever so slightly more than that.

Another season finishing with us hovering uncomfortably above relegation would surely see Chairman Eggert Magnusson in an altogether more ruthless mood and a guaranteed withdrawal of the chocolate Hob-Nobs from the canteen.

3. Mettle work

Personally, I think that our next two games (away to Blackburn and at home to Everton) will provide us with a more accurate assessment of our current status than any other fixtures so far this season.

Invariably you can rely on West Ham to show up against the big teams, as Saturday's game against Chelsea proved with an energetic, feisty display. It's when we come up against the lesser sides that we seem to take our foot off the gas and coast our way to the unremarkable.

It's obvious, but if we can beat those teams who have similar ambitions, we should find ourselves with a decent chance of European football come next May.

4. Form And Function

Despite their recent good form, I've managed to uncover a few stats which should give us hope going into the weekend.

Firstly, Blackburn have only managed to keep one clean sheet in 10 League outings. Hopefully Ashton will be fit enough to start and can get involved, perhaps even over the full 90 minutes. I fancy our recently impressive midfield to contribute as well.

Blackburn have won just one of their last five games and failed to score in three of those. In marked contrast, we have avoided defeat in five of the last six.

With Bentley (their recent creative fulcrum) missing out, hopefully Robbie Savage will start and be mercilessly slaughtered by one of the many dozens of contract killers who must surely be on his tail.

5. The History

Last season's corresponding fixture was a cut and dried affair.

Having gone 1-0 down (as was becoming something of a pre-requisite), Tevez slotted home a penalty and then further cemented his status as an Upton Park legend. Carlos managed to miraculously clear Zamora's shot off the Blackburn goal line whilst in an offside position, only to then run off in celebration prompting the goal to be awarded.

The man is a mercurial football genius.

This undeniable slab of good fortune lifted us off the bottom of the table and began to kindle the dying embers of Premiership survival. We shouldn't need such outrageous luck this time around to get a result, but we will need a solid performance.

6. B&B

Benni McCarthy and David Bentley are two examples of genuine goal threats.

McCarthy was a West Ham target for some months but opted for the stinking, barren, industrial wasteland of Blackburn over the fragrant, multi-cultural utopia of Green Street. Perhaps no bad thing as he doesn't appear to be the most loyal of fellows.

Upon being told by a local crack-head that there was a 4% chance he could be reunited with Mourinho at Chelsea, Benni quashed those rumours and warmed the hearts of Rovers fans everywhere with a declaration akin to: "I'd walk out on these whippet-racing inbreds in an instant."

Apparently he drove straight home having been substituted against Newcastle last weekend - Big Sam asked if he could keep the engine running but McCarthy had a table booked at Nando's.

Bentley is in good form at the moment, as his two goals last week testify. Off-loaded as a promising youngster by Arsene Wenger for a rumoured attitude problem, he has flourished with first-team football at Blackburn and is the kind of player I wish we would've gone in for a couple of years back instead of the likes of Tyrone Mears.

Occasionally prone to petulance, he's still a good player who should give the current stale England line-up something to think about over the coming months. Luckily for us, that petulance saw him pick up his 5th yellow card of the season against Newcastle last week, meaning he misses Sunday afternoon's game.

7. Hughes Your Daddy?

Blackburn have enjoyed a good start to the season and whilst only 2 places above us, there is a 7-point gap.

We can write off our game in hand as it's away to Liverpool - we haven't won that fixture since Martin Luther King 'had a dream' and Jackie Kennedy's lovely pink ensemble was ruined by her husband's face (you can't say this blog isn't educational).

Mark Hughes has assembled an unremarkable yet combative squad together with a few players capable of making the difference when needed. They certainly appear to have been infused with their manager's former playing attitude of committed lunacy.

Having beaten Spurs away, Newcastle at home and drawn with both Arsenal and Liverpool, Sparky's team have been pulling out the kinds of results that we would hope for ourselves. Only an unsurprising 2-0 loss to Man Utd and an uncharacteristic and by all accounts undeserved 4-0 drubbing at home to Villa have blighted their UEFA Cup aspirations.

Despite his rapidly greying hair, Mark Hughes is proving to be a good young manager. Besides, the only thing at Ewood Park greyer than Mark Hughes' locks will be Boa Morte's complexion after another night on the Class A's.

I would consider a West Ham away victory this weekend to be a potentially season-defining effort.

8. PS

Shout out to Ricky Hatton this weekend - paste Mayweather's mug all over Vegas!

(I'd do it myself but, you know, I've got previews to research).

9. In Summary

Robbie Savage is a c*nt.

Don't worry, Shark - there's not a court in the land that wouldn't agree with us.

1 comment:

  1. Special shout out to Ricky Hatton's support act. Apparently there was an English football-style trumpet band at the pre-fight press conference, and they played Steptoe & Son when Mayweather walked on stage. Classic.