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, January 04, 2008

West Ham United vs Manchester City: FA Cup 3rd Round - Match Preview - 05/01/2008

1. In Pantsil We Trust

Having systematically taken the Premiership Champions to pieces at the weekend, I was a little late in publishing a preview for our visit to The Emirates, for which I apologise. Those of you interested, it went something like this:

"We'll concede twice in the first 20 minutes but won't embarrass ourselves, John Panstil will bedazzle all with his over-head kicking prowess and 60,102 spectators will attend."

You'll agree I'm something of an oracle.

2. "In The Beginning John Pantsil Created The Heaven And The Earth"

Having been born in 1979, I am too young to remember John Pantsil's no-nonsense storming of the Iranian Embassy in the Spring of 1980. I am, however, old enough to be scarred by the memory of our woeful opening day performance against Manchester City.

There was much anticipation on that glorious August day in light of our extensive Summer spending, only for the players to simply refuse to show up, leaving a packed Upton Park to trudge home despondently.

Man City have since managed to maintain their lofty league status despite the assumptions of many that they would falter. In typical Mancunian fashion, they continue to exercise their 'squatters rights' in the top four, even though our opening day defeat remained City's sole away win prior to their recent victory at Newcastle.

Thanks to the conspiring fates of the FA Cup, we have been granted a chance for vengeance. Again, I am inclined to think that the up 'til now impossible task of being expected to break down comparable teams at Upton Park should be dispelled, as this is a Cup tie and should therefore be more open.

3. You Say 'Pomme De Terre', I Say 'Spud-U-Like'

It's quite amazing the difference some prudent use of a Chairman's millions can make to a football team. On the one hand, you could divide it evenly into manageable sums of £20 and under, then set about buying up every ex-Gooner from the 1950's - a 'la Redknapp.

Or you could make some headline-grabbing, big name signings and worry later that they're as injury-prone as a heroin-addicted hedgehog with cataracts - right, Alan?

On the other hand, you could do your homework and pick up some relative bargains. Elano is looking a snip at £8 million and Petrov looks a bit tasty (not literally, I'm not Frank Lampard) at £4.7 million.

Time will only tell if our comparable purchase of Julien Faubert will be as inspired.

4. Walking Wounded

By all accounts, there's a chance that Lee Bowyer and Matty Etherington could feature this weekend. This would be welcome news as the aforementioned have been our main goal threats from midfield this season. Etherington too seems to be the only player capable of providing some genuine width.

Of course, with West Ham it's one step forward, two steps back and so Ljungberg, Parker and Solano have all been ruled out thus far. It wouldn't surprise me if a couple of others contracted bird flu between now and 3pm Saturday afternoon.

Annoyingly, City's playmaker Elano has recently returned from injury and scored at St James' Park in midweek. He will need watching... as will Sven Goran Eriksson should any of you be taking your wives and girlfriends to the game.

5. "If Music Be The Food Of Love, Get John Pantsil On X-Factor"

A consequence of having to watch the opening game of the season was to witness Manchester City's competent centre back pairing.

Micah Richards was dominant all day long and Richard Dunne has been voted City's Player Of The Year three seasons in a row - despite HeadHammer Shark's personal protests and hunger strike (which lasted all of half an hour).

City have looked about as solid as us at the back this season, save their 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea. They have of course looked infinitely more creative going forward. I think we will need another stifling midfield display akin to our last home performance, lest our clean sheet be threatened.

I remember a time from my youth when my safety was indirectly threatened by an unsavoury gentleman in a flimsy black plastic hat. Thankfully, John Pantsil was able to fire his Proton Torpedoes in time and intergalactic tyranny was averted.

6. Sven Will I See You Again?

Sven 'The Scandinavian Sex Pest' Eriksson has done a good job steering City through stormy waters and up onto the crest of a wave.

I remember many a football fan shuddering at the thought of him taking the reins at their respective clubs when his services were being touted, but he has gone on to confirm that he is a far more successful club manager than an international one.

His sizeable budget and prudent forays into the transfer market have enabled the Swede to strengthen his squad considerably and cement their place as a top half team. His managing credentials can no longer be in question, which is more than you can say about his fidelity.

Weathergirls, secretaries and former hosts of Gladiators beware - Sven's back...
John Fashanu must be permanently looking over his shoulder - Awooga!

(Any opportunity to use the word 'Awooga!' must be fully capitalised upon. This is now an established policy of The H List).

7. "There's Only One Way To Beat Capone - He Puts One Of Your Guys In
Hospital, You Put John Pantsil Up Front"

We have met Manchester City only twice in the FA Cup, both away from home and both resulting in 2-1 victories. City are in good form being undefeated in their last four games, whereas we have won three of our last seven.

It probably all comes down to whether we can stem their creative players whilst giving them something to think about with some penetrative forward play of our own. It has the potential to be a great cup tie, but equally to be a frustrating afternoon for us Hammers fans.

It can be taken as a given that the Blue half of Manchester will supply some impressive away support, unlike their Red rivals. City fans have long been among the most ardent in the League and it would spark a crackling atmosphere if the Claret and Blue Army get behind the team from the off.

8. In Summary

Joey Barton should be in prison.

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