The HamburgHammer Column
Another weekend bereft of a competitive West Ham game done and over with, finally we can count the days until another league game for our beloved Hammers kicks off.
And boy, don’t they come any bigger than this one against Southampton! And it’s happening over the Easter Weekend. So it’s obviously tempting to get out all those puns about resurrecting the saviour(s) from the dead, players rising for the occasion, coming back to life, finding themselves in heaven after being nailed to the cross…or should that be nailed by the opposition with a cross ?
Either way our lads can go a long way towards securing their Premier League status by lifting everyone’s spirits and confidence with a win against Southampton.
I hope the long time off has worked to our advantage, we got in some warm weather training in sunny Florida, a practise game against Dagenham&Redbridge and hopefully several productive training sessions, setting our team up for maximum impact against Southampton.
Strangely enough I am looking forward to this game. A lot actually. I would expect our players to be really up and hungry for this one after the long break.
And while the scenes at the Burnley game weren’t exactly a pleasant experience for the players I am sure everyone in the team now has a pretty good idea what’s at stake and what is required here. I expect nothing less than 100% effort, desire and determination on Saturday.
Southampton are in a similarly (fragile) position as us: They have underperformed for long stretches throughout the season, they are fighting desperately for survival and they need wins, draws alone will no longer do. So I’m expecting one hell of a game here, with plenty of incidents and hopefully three points for us, with no unwanted off-field issues, pitch invasions or crowd trouble to spoil the occasion. It’s not rocket science to predict that an early goal or some good football from our lads early on will help to get and keep the fans onside for this one.
We should have a pretty decent squad available for Southampton with Masuaku coming back into the side after sitting out the last six games due to his untimely impression of a llama, performed in the Cup game against Wigan. To say he has been missed is a bit of an understatement. Also returning, after a lengthy spell out due to an ankle injury, is Edimilson Fernandes and while I wouldn’t expect the young Swiss midfielder to start against Southampton he will at least be a useful option to have on the bench.
Let’s not forget that we are still in the driving seat and masters of our own destiny here. Other teams down there have to better our results to get past us in the survival race and while the whole thing at this point is too close to call I’d rather be three points above a relegation place than three points worse off. But make no mistake: Nothing but victory against the Saints will do. Yes, it may be Easter and all that, but this time I hope the Saints will go marching out with zero points when they head back down the M3 after the game.
We can all start to worry about who might be our manager next season or which player we might buy (or sell) in the summer once we know which league we shall be playing in.
Until that happens we can only cheer on the boys in the stadium (or from afar) and hope that this will be enough to get our team over the finishing line.
I am nailing my colours to the mast here, predicting a 3:1 win for us. I don’t even consider a draw or defeat as a realistic option here, maybe against better knowledge, but there you go.
As for my local football, it was a quite unusual weekend for me.On Saturday I decided to watch my other local team, playing away to Barmbek as I like that particular ground and there was no meaningful English football on the telly. With over 400 clubs in and around Hamburg to choose from I am in the comfortable position to have 10 clubs within a 4 mile radius of my flat to choose from, so whenever I am keen for some lower league football there is ALWAYS a match on nearby, throughout the weekend.
The game itself didn’t have many highlights, apart from the famous home made meatball rolls, available in the ground, and my local team playing in their bright orange “Holland-style” away shirts. Game was won 2:0, but was more remarkable for some bad and late tackles rather than breathtaking football moves.
Then again, what do you expect from 8th level football ?
Sunday for the first time in many moons I missed a regular first team Concordia league game, not through illness, but after a deliberate decision to visit my brother at rehab again before he can finally return home on Thursday. As Concordia can no longer finish higher than 5th in the table this season, rendering their remaining games pretty much meaningless, I decided to give this one a miss and spend the afternoon with my bro. Sundays in a rehab facility can be incredibly tedious, so I figured I was of better use to him than Concordia. I must have missed a cracker though, 3:3 scoreline with some absolute stunners. But you can’t have it all.
Although a home win against Southampton surely isn’t too much to ask for really, is it ? COYI!!!