Friday, February 23, 2007

West Ham Preview

It's being billed as our biggest game for years. It's certainly our biggest game since the FA Cup quarter-final last season, and admittedly it's hard to recall this type of anticipation leading up to a Premiership fixture since we returned in 2000. Then again, with six seasons of midtable mediocrity behind us, maybe that's not very surprising.

I'm concerned that we are getting ahead of ourselves here because a victory might secure us bragging rights, but we will still be 17 points away from probable survival. I'm not trying to belittle the occasion, but merely pointing out that our fate will be sealed over the next eleven games (each of which offers the same three points), and not just on Saturday. Indeed, if we win but then Wigan win on Sunday, then we will barely be any better off, and arguably we'll be worse off. For us to survive, we realistically have to assume that if we finish above Wigan, we'll also finish above West Ham regardless of tomorrow's result; March 31st is the bigger game.

By building the game up and thus causing a feverish atmosphere, we run the risk of playing into West Ham's hands because as I indicated on Sunday, the nerves should be all theirs (or more pertinently, their owners). If we play our football and calmly execute our game plan, I am confident we will get a result. However a crazy game full of bookings, tension and panic will not aid our cause. So to use the old cliché, let's just treat like any other game, eh?

I can't be bothered to write much more about Curbs; we've all said our thanks in the appropriate fashion, and we've both moved on. If West Ham's short-termism has permitted us to have the 'proper' manager we deserved then great, but what happens to Curbs and West Ham now is of no interest to me. This Pardew/Curbishley situation that is causing such interest in the media is a bit overplayed because a) Curbs did not leave us to go directly to West Ham, and b) Pardew did not leave West Ham to go directly to Charlton. It was merely a coincidence.

Darren Bent's return is very welcome and I would expect us to play 4-4-2, though it implies that (probably) Faye drops to the bench to allow Song to pair Holland in central midfield. West Ham have obvious weaknesses at full-back, and if Thomas/Ambrose/Rommedahl are in the mood then we can put them on the back foot from the get-go. At the back it seems that Bougherra is doubtful so Pards may revert to the lower-risk option of Hreidarsson and El Karkouri again. The probable appearance of Luke Young meanwhile would be another boost as Pardew's genuine 'first eleven' finally comes close to taking shape.

Derek 'Killer' Hales (KillerWatch© -£671) fancies either a 2-0 or 2-1 home win, and I'm inclined to agree with him, and I'll be watching live on TV in the US hoping for the best. NY Addick predicts Charlton 2 (Bent D, Bent M), West Ham 1 (Cole)


At 8:31 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Not sure that Hreidarsson is fully fit

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous KEN J said...

Could Faye play back there ?


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