1. The Return Of The King
No, not HeadHammer Shark... but Carlos Tevez.
My main motivation for attending tomorrow will be to show my appreciation to Carlito for his splendid efforts last season. By rights, he should be treated to a stellar reception. I'm sure there will be a few meatheads who insist on booing him, but genuine fans will appreciate the return of a bona fide West Ham legend.
Having witnessed the last couple of lacklustre home performances, tomorrow I shall make an (inevitably doomed) attempt to watch with a sense of detachment as a quality attacking side do their stuff - I fear it will be one of the few examples of creative potency we will see at Upton Park this season.
Hats off to you, Pope Tevez - your silky skills and cheeky simian smile brought us much pleasure.
2. Slim Or None?
Readers, I am in the same puzzled place I often find myself in when the faintest glimmer of hope twinkles on the horizon. Bereft of the cynical detachment that HeadHammer Shark exudes with his cold, dead eyes, I find my heart persistently trying to overrule my head.
Obviously, whenever I succumb to this deluded optimism, the inevitable sub-par performance only cranks up the volume of my brain:
"Idiot! When will you listen, you blithering idiot?!"
Still, indulge me...
Judging by the flat performance on Boxing Day, our failure to beat a 10-man Reading does not bode well for the visit of a full quota of Premier League Champions and there is a part of me steeling myself against the hiding we'll probably be on the receiving end of. However - illogic tells me that our impressive away day form could come into play.
United will be on the front foot for much of the game and will be under more pressure than us to get a result, particularly with such a close title race in prospect. My heart (with all it's Special Needs), keeps banging on about how this plays into our hands and, at the very least, will enable us to escape sans battering and maybe even nick a goal or two.
God, I'm gonna feel like such a fool come 5 o'clock tomorrow.
Last year we did the double over both Man United and Arsenal
(I'll write that again)
Last year we did the double over both Man United and Arsenal.
However, 2006 also saw an axe-wielding Finnish metal band win the Eurovision Song Contest and Dick Cheney accidentally shoot his "friend and lawyer" in the face with a shotgun - what can I say? It was a strange year. (All true, Shark - I'm toning down the libel).
Two 1-0 wins including that unforgettable resurrection at Old Trafford, saw us take all six points and helped steer us clear of relegation. Our home Premiership record against United is pretty good, having lost just once in the 12 fixtures to date - albeit recording only one win and seven draws.
We'd all be happy with a draw tomorrow as it would no doubt mean the 11 men on the pitch in claret and blue would've actually fronted up. I'd personally love to see a red-faced Sir Alex Ferguson fuming in his post-match interview, you can just picture it:
"Unbewievable. I can't bewieve they've taken points of us in the weague. Wonaldo's dive was a bwatent penalty... It's a bwuddy conspiwacy."
4. 'Tis The Season...
...to stuff your face.
I'm sure we've all over-indulged and put on a few pounds these last few days and I'm quite sure that Dean Ashton and Lucas Neill weren't shy in adding another ladle of gravy to their extra helping of Christmas pudding over Yuletide.
They both look heavy to me and are certainly lacking that zip in mobility you'd expect from young professional athletes. Lucas in particular has been a shadow of his last-season-self.
I remember him doing an outstanding job on Ronaldo at Old Trafford last season but I fear he could get a roasting this time out. And not the good kind of roasting - neither sage and onion stuffing nor Micah Richards would be involved.
Ashton looks 'strong' (I'm in the giving spirit, what with the time of year) and you'd still back him to hit the target should the ball drop to him. But therein lies the problem, the ball would have to drop to him as you can't see him outstripping anyone for pace... unless perhaps Sir Alex waved one of his homeland's famed deep-fried Mars Bars next to the ball.
5. In Summary
If we don't show up, we'll be annihilated. If we do show up we could nick a draw and do ourselves proud...
...which will make our capitulation to Fulham at our next league home game even more galling.