Sunday, December 10, 2023

West Ham preview

I have just woken from a bizarre dream in which Matt Law from the Daily Express was sent to jail for life for executing three of our players because they refused him an interview after today’s game (which hasn’t happened yet). Nobody knew who had killed them (Fabianski, Denilson and Chamakh) until he announced it on Twitter and complained that he couldn’t get the blood out of his favourite Blues Brothers t-shirt. Most odd.

Anyway, those players are not dead, not as far as I know (I’ve checked Twitter and nobody’s confessing to anything just yet), and we play West Ham this afternoon. The only player out from Wednesday’s game is Kieran Gibbs and none of the walking wounded have returned. That being the case I think we’ll line up as follows:

Fabianski – Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy – Song – Denilson – Cesc – Nasri – Arshavin – Chamakh

If I were picking the team I’d be very tempted to move Nasri left and play Theo instead of Arshavin but I think the manager will play the Russian again today. Theo’s return means he’ll have to perform though, it’ll be interesting to see if he responds to the competition for his place.

In goal Fabianski continues with the backing of the manager who says:

We always felt that if he could get a run of games, then he could show how good he is.

He also makes an interesting point regarding how people view players when they go through a run of ‘form’ like Fabianski did, saying:

The confidence problem is a very interesting subject in top-level sport. You feel it goes quickly and comes back slowly. If you are an established name and you make a mistake, then it is: ‘you have had a bad day.’ If you come into the team and you make a mistake people say you are not good enough. That’s a massive difference.

Which is a very good point but nobody made any judgements on Fabianski after just one bad day. It was one bad day after another after another after another etc. I suppose the question that many of us asked ‘He can’t really be that bad, can he?’ has been answered to an extent, we’ve seen a couple of quite ordinary performances from him as well as one very good one against Man City. We don’t need Man City style performances every week – that would mean a lot of questions being asked our defence – we just need competetent displays without the confidence sapping errors he was making. It’s early days still but let’s hope he continues to move in the right direction.

The manager also confirmed there’s a new deal on offer for Wojscez©®:

An offer has been made.We are negotiating with him and try to extend his contract. He wants to stay, I want him to stay, so basically [a] plus plus [a] plus should be [a] plus!

Erm … isn’t a plus a, aa? Is he suggesting Wojscez©® is too fond of the hooch? Reading between the lines that’s exactly what he’s not saying. Fingers crossed he signs soon, he’s a player of huge potential and it would be a goddam shame to lose him before he could break into the first team and become crap.

Also up for a new deal is Jack Wilshere:

Jack has 18 months to go. I will try to get him on a longer contract but we are not short, short with him because he has basically two years left. We hope that we can announce that soon.

18 months or two years? What was up with the manager and his crazy maths? Anyway, when you compare a player to Liam Brady you know there’s no room for messing around with theorems or long division. All you need to do is look at how quickly Jack has become integral to this team to know that his contract should reflect that. Hopefully there’s no messing about and we get things done asap because his talent excites me like I was Stan Collymore in a forest car park.

As for the game itself the manager has warned his team that anything less than everything (those maths again) could bring about another West Brom style result. He called that game a ‘lesson learned’ and hopefully that’s the case. Even 10% off can make the difference in the Premier League and West Ham are scrapping for points. They’re bottom of the league, a horrible place to be even at this early stage of the season, so we’re going to have to be on our toes today.

Only Blackpool have conceded more goals than the hammers this season so defensively they’re very suspect. With Cesc back we have that added quality in the final third as well as the ability to open up defences from deeper positions, Chamakh and Nasri are scoring, Arshavin is more than capable if he’s in the mood and with real options on the bench should we require them you have to think we’ll make life very difficult for them today.

We also go into this game on the back of two clean sheets for the first time since September 2009. We set our record for the season then with three in a row (Wigan, West Brom and Fulham), which isn’t particularly great. Another one today would be a boost because as good as we are going forward what let us down last season, and in seasons before, was the amount of goals conceded.

So here’s to inflicting some hallowe’en horror on the hammers, even though hallowe’en is not until tomorrow. You know what I mean though.

Come on you reds.

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