Match Thread

Match Thread: West Ham v Spurs

Please use this thread to comment as the match progresses.

Match Preview

Match Preview: Spurs v West Ham

In the last post I predicted a 1-1 draw. That was me being optimistic. We’re playing against a team that outspent us in the summer by a ratio of 5 to 1. On that basis we shouldn’t even consider the possibility of winning this game. It’s 14 years since we won at White Hart Lane. Those two facts make me rather glad that this match is on TV. And yet, and yet… One must always be optimistic. I remember David Cross scoring 4 in 1981. I remember that gem of a goal from Dani in the 1990s. My head tells me that it won’t happen again, yet for some reason I keep imagining a sweet Ravel Morrison volley into the roof of the net.

Stewart Downing and Joe Cole both come back into the reckoning for this game but I doubt whether either will start. I expect James Collins to come back into the central defence and Mo Diame to continue on the right, allowing Ravel Morrison to continue to flourish alongside Mark Noble. The big question is whether Sam has finally lost patience with Modibo Maiga and will replace him with either Vaz Te or Petric. I’d have thought Mladen Petric must be more or less match fit by now, but if he isn’t there’s little harm in starting and coming off later in the game.

I am afraid I will be spending most of the game with tears running down my face. Not because I am following the game, but because I am visiting a friend who has just been given two months to live. Sometimes winning a football match doesn’t really count for very much.

Match Preview

Briefing The Opposition: A Look Ahead to Spurs

Here’s an interview I did yesterday for the Spurs Fansite Cartiledge Free Captain

EF: Let’s start with a very brief retrospective- what did you make of West Ham’s comeback Premier League campaign last time out? What was the season high, and the season low?

ID: It was far more successful than any of us could have hoped for. To finish tenth was way better than I expected, and frankly it could have been higher had we managed to score any goals away from home. The highlight was the development of the central defensive partnership of Winston Reid and James Collins. At one point, quite a way into the season we had one of the best defensive records in the league. The lowlight was the injury to Andy Carroll. Carroll was fantastic in the games he played and was man of the match in a lot of them. Even when he doesn’t score he brings so much to the team.

EF: We are now 6 games into Sam Allardyce’s sophomore season with the Hammers. Whilst things haven’t quite gone as south as they have for Fulham, Palace and Sunderland (and arguably for Newcastle, who’ve copped a few batterings already despite their two wins), I think it’s probably fair to say that the side haven’t hit the ground running as well as they did last time out. What for you has been the main issue thus far? Is it just the simple lack of Andy Carroll’s presence and the absence of a decent stand-in, or do the problems run deeper than that?

ID: How can any side expect to do well without a striker? I still cannot believe that we didn’t get proper backup for Carroll, who always has been an injury prone player. We could have had Bony, or any number of other players, but to get to the end of the transfer window with only Modibo Maiga as a recognised striker was just madness. We now have Mladen Petric, and I suspect he will play on Sunday, but is he really the class of player we need? No. We should have brought Jermain Defoe back to where he belongs! In every other part of the pitch we’re playing well, but in the end, if you don’t convert your chances you’re always going to struggle.

EF: Rolling it back to the summer, do you think the squad was adequately upgraded in preparation for this new season? Which areas do you think were best tended to, and which if any were left lacking? Who do you think was Allardyce’s bargain coup? And could any of West Ham’s Academy players possibly make the jump to the seniors this year to patch any unfixed holes?

ID: If Carroll had remained fit I’d have been happy with the signings. We have a decent number two goalkeeper in Adrian from Spain. Razvan Rat looks a decent attacking left back and Stewart Downing will hopefully build on the brilliant form he showed in his first appearance. But it is Ravel Morrison that is exciting us most. This boy is the real deal and if he keeps his head together we could have a world beater on our hands.

EF: Moving forwards to the weekend tie. Spurs and West Ham played out two of our season’s most entertaining fixtures last season, with the second requiring a once-in-a-lifetime strike from Gareth Bale to secure the three points in an incredibly open and close match. Obviously with Bale gone now, the complexion of this weekend’s game is going to be very different. But is there still anything Big Sam can take away from last season’s encounters to inform his approach to the game?

ID: Unfortunately I wasn’t at that game but I did see it on TV afterwards and I am still at a loss to know how we came out of that with nothing. I thought we played you off the park at times, but it was just like the 2006 cup final when Stevie Gerrard proved to be the matchwinner. This time it was Gareth Bale. Your team has changed so much since that game that I am not sure Sam Allardyce will have learned a lot from it.

EF: With the resources at hand, how do you see Allardyce lining up his side against Spurs? Are there any tweaks you personally think he should make if he wants to go for all three points at the Lane?

ID: With the exception of Andy Carroll, he’s got everyone available for the first time for a long time. I don’t see him taking many risks, though. Joe Cole and Stewart Downing have come back from their injuries and I imagine they will be on the bench. Jussi will be in goal with a back four of Joey O’Brien (hugely underrated), Rat, Reid and Collins. Diame has been playing out on the right in midfield to accommodate Ravel Morrison and he will line up alongside Noble and Nolan in central midfield, with Matt Jarvis on the left. I can’t think Maiga’s services will be retained so I imagine either Petric or Vaz Te will take the striker’s role.

EF: Who do you think the dangerman will be for both sides?

ID: Morrison for us, Defoe for you. He always scored against us.

EF: Looking ahead to the rest of the season, what ideally do you think West Ham should be looking to achieve in the League and cup competitions they’ll be taking part in this season?

ID: We’re doing OK in the League Cup and we have Burnley next so we have high hopes of getting further in that. I think we’d all be delighted by a finish of 10th, but there is still a mentality that says we’ll settle for 17th! It’s a time of transition for West Ham as we look forward to the Olympic Stadium. Being involved in a fight against relegation is unthinkable, but obviously possible. My gut instinct is that without Carroll we’ll struggle to make 10th and that 14th is probably about the best we can hope for.

EF: Obviously it’s still too early to say anything definitive yet, but under what circumstances do you think the board will start to look past Allardyce and over at new options? Does he deserve extra patience for getting the side up and for securing a strong run last season, or do you think these decisions have to follow the results of the present?

ID: Allardyce has proved himself and the only way he will leave in the immediate future is if we are relegated. Even then I wouldn’t put money on it. The players like him and he has created a real sense of team spirit, which had been badly lacking. He is far from the long ball merchant he is painted as. The good thing is that this West Ham team can mix it up if they need to. We can still play the pretty stuff, but we’re also capable of being physical when we need to.

EF: Finally, could I trouble you for a score prediction?

ID: My heart says we’ll sneak it 1-0 but my head says you’ll win 2-0. So 1-1 then!

Talking Point

Ravel Morrison's £19 million Buy Out Clause

The Sun reported today that Ravel Morrison has put a £19 million buy out clause into his contract. They allege he insisted on the buy out clause himself when he signed from Manchester United last January for a reported deal worth £650,000 which can rise to £1 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if Manchester United also added some sell on clause too.

It was revealed last year that Momo Diame has a buy out clause of just £3.5m.

His agent Willie McKay said at the time: “The only reason some clubs have the players they have is because of a clause being inserted. They may make an offer that is less wages than another club has offered but because they allow a trigger clause then the player will sign with them. Diame was a free transfer and believed he could command a better salary than he was offered so to compensate for that the clause was put in so he could leave in six months time for £3.5million. That way the club can sell him at a quick profit or renegotiate.”

In other news this week Ravel Morrison received his maiden call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 squad. The Daily Mail reported he admitted being an Arsenal fan in an interview. He reportedly said ‘I can’t wait for Sunday, ‘I’m more of an Arsenal fan to be honest, but Tottenham have done really well this season. Hopefully we can carry on playing how we have been playing, but we can score a few goals this time and you never know how things could go.’

We won’t hold his love of Arsenal against Ravel if he scores the winning goal on Sunday against Tottenham.

Guest Post

The Alpari Match Experience by Donna Heuerman

By Donna Heuerman

Being by Iain informed that I had won his website competition for 2 tickets for the West Ham United v Everton was a lovely surprise. To later realise that they were in the Alpari Box was a bigger surprise (must make a mental note to read all of the small print in future!). I had entered the competition hoping to give my daughter a well deserved treat. She had recently received her GCSE result (12 grade A to B) and is always tirelessly supporting her fundraising brother. My husband and son are season ticket holders and always go into the game and us girls don’t normally get the opportunity.

We were a little nervous entering the room on the day but the Alpari representatives and their guests were so friendly and made us feel very welcome. The food and company were great and the view of the pitch was incredible. Taking our seats we decided that West Ham could win 2-1 and when they were eventually awarded a penalty and scored, resulting in our prediction, we did go a little crazy. Sadly the more goals followed and the end result was not in our favour but this did not mar our experience. Fantastic day, thank you so much for a fabulous and much appreciated treat for my daughter.

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