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, March 07, 2008

tottenham hotspur vs West Ham United: Match Preview - 09/02/2008

1. Through The Looking Glass

The benefit of having two contributors to The H List (yes, there is one. Just one, mind) is that readers can adopt two slightly different perspectives on the season thus far.

Whereas HeadHammer Shark delivers a considered approach, painting the bigger picture with his ability to keep things in perspective by drawing on experience; mine is a much more alarmist, bile-spitting slice of extremism.

I am the al-Qaeda to his Greenpeace.

2. U.O.Us

Having been left with that all too familiar feeling of deflated dejection after our last two drubbings, the prospect of a similarly comprehensive defeat away to tottenham could have us all reaching for the razor blades.

I would propose that the players owe us a victory at White Hart Lane to make up for conceding eight goals in two games. In the unlikely event they manage to pull it off, it would round off a bitter week with some sweet-tasting resolution.

Spurs also leaked four at the weekend against a Birmingham side battling against relegation. Unlike us, they did not have their full strength team out.

'Neither did we', you say? Let's face it, this is as full strength as we're ever going to be since eczema, mumps and chesty coughs ravaged our treatment room, bamboozling the druids in charge.

I would have taken four points from this trying period had you offered them to me last Saturday morning, but taking three off of Spurs is the next best thing.

3. Broken Record

Put your thinking caps on, step outside the box and hazard a guess at who came up with this little beauty:

"(a factor in our recent defeats) is also the personnel that have been available. The club is sitting tenth, there are a few other clubs that would like to be sitting there."

Am I missing something? Have we got a Kaka or a Messi waiting in the wings ready to turn our season around?

Curbishley's tired old rhetoric almost has one thinking we have some hidden creative gem ready to be unleashed, and that their hitherto absence is the sole reason we have been clutching at straws in the final third these last six months.

I'm starting to draw up a list of those I would like to see replace Curbs, just a few people who could do a more competent job with the resources available.

Thus far I've come up with Slaven Bilic, Kofi Annan on crack (he has to be on crack), Pigeon Street pet shop-owner Mr Macadoo and Helen Daniels from Neighbours - but only after her debilitating stroke.

4. The Opposition

This blog is no place for the comprehensive analysis of tottenham.

Jermaine Jenas remains overrated and looks like a lanky version of E.T that has had his elongated head compacted in a vice to form a punchable cube.

Paul Robinson has returned to goalkeeping duties having been kept out by Cerny for a few weeks. Cerny himself hasn't been seen for some time, adding to speculation that Robinson has regained his appetite for football(ers).

Robbie Keane is still yet to be tested by a sound pummeling with a bat, as was suggested in the last tottenham preview. I think Curbs is missing a trick here - simply get John Pantsil to don his invisibility cloak and the job's a good'un.

Spurs have surprisingly managed to accommodate a couple of the living dead as a centre back pairing in Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King, both of whom are only seconds away from a career-ending injury at any moment.

Their new defensive axis has of course meant that Michael Dawson has been forced to retreat back into the mahogany woodland from whence he came, housing many a birds nest and scrubland dormouse.

5. The Grim World Of Statistics

We haven't managed to take three points from White Hart Lane since 1999. That's almost a decade. The last time we did came courtesy of strikes by Marc Keller and Ian Wright - who had by then signed up for Redknapp's Jolly Boys Pension Fund for over-the-hill former Premiership stars.

The last time we played this lot was on the back of a 5-0 win over Derby. This time round it has taken us the last nine games to accumulate as many goals prior to kick-off.

This is also Alan Curbishley's 50th game at the helm.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. While this exercise is similar to going to a home fixture this year, it has the added benefit of sufficiently blurring your vision so you can convince yourself that West Ham are playing two up front.

Whilst the rivalry between the two clubs is still fierce, in the grander scheme of things this is a nothing game - two sides stranded in midtable with nothing to play for for the remainder of the domestic season.

I have no doubt that a win against The Scum would lighten my mood considerably, but that would swiftly be tempered once Curbishley reverts to his favoured 7-3-0 formation at home to Blackburn next week.

6. Artistic Accomplishment

Yesterday (6th March) was Michelangelo's birthday. By the age of 24 Michelangelo had already completed his mesmeric statue 'Pieta', depicting The Virgin Mary cradling a dying Christ which is still on show in St Peter's Basilica.

Lucas Neill is 29 and only seems capable of impersonating statues as opposition midfielders trundle past him unhindered. Now, why it may seem churlish of me to compare our captain's accomplishments to those of arguably the greatest artist of the Renaissance, I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm 28 and so have a year on Lucas. There's still time for me to either captain my country or to sculpt a modern version of Michelangelo's 'David', modeled on our defensive Goliath, Matthew Upson.

But only if he re-grows his beard. Those are my terms.

7. Yap Yap Yap...

One of the many things wrong with democracy is that tottenham fans are entitled to free speech.

Unfortunately, the filtered dregs of the human gene pool are scattered liberally across London and I'm sure that many of you, like me, are used to scraping the odd Spurs fan off your shoe at work or socially.

Just yesterday I was subject to one of them boasting about his team's "silverware" this season - I can only presume he was referring to the teapot covered in bacofoil that is the League Cup.

I was forced to respond to this mutated piece of plankton with the only response open to me: that we maintain an 8-point gap over them in the League.

This is soon likely to be five and Spurs now have a game in hand, so it could potentially be cut to just two. I'm not sure I could bare not having even the most meagre of statistics to cling to in order to shut them up should (once) they overtake our drab band of coasters.

Ah yes: we are the only domestic team in the history of football to have won the World Cup - the irrefutable H-Bomb of comebacks.

8. Stick Two Upfront, You Dozy C*nt

Our back five, the bedrock of our spectacularly unspectacular season thus far, are wavering seriously. Upson could be a doubt this week and one wonders just how bad Lucas Neill has to play in order to be dropped.

At Anfield our captain once again looked utterly bewildered at finding himself in shorts, socks and boots, standing on one of those big rectangular flat surfaces covered in green hair, with people screaming at him for letting men dressed in red saunter past.

If Upson is out this Sunday, I'd like to see Gabbidon given a run out at centre back instead of Curbishley's answer to all life's quandaries, Jonathan Spector and I'd put Spector in at right back in place of Neill.

Our American friend is often solid, if not spectacular. Another ace up his sleeve relative to Lucas is that he is more mobile than a pissed Stephen Hawking, having the pace to get back and make amends for any errors.

What we've all been screaming, screaming, screaming at Curbishley to do however, is the most basic of things: play two strikers... simultaneously.

4-5-1 at home is as toothless as Wilfred Bramble. Away from home you could conceivably make an argument for it, but in order to do so you'd need to have attacking midfielders consistently supporting the front man (which we don't) and have a front man capable of being both nimble and prodigious (which we don't).

With our back-line in it's current state, attack is surely our best form of defence.

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