A perfect example of why you shouldn’t leave a game before the end. “Is there a fire drill” sang the cocky self styled Cockney Boys only to find the same refrain redirected back at them less than 5 minutes later.
It didn’t start out quite so well…
Another day another system as Poch tries to solve the shooting blanks problem. Kane and Janssen to start with a diamond shoe horned in behind them. Wanyama at the base with Winks and Dembélé to either side and Eriksen supplying the bullets. So much rubbish. Winks was switched to outside right after twenty odd minutes of dross, poor kid. “Ever played with chalk on your boots son? Never mind, off you go”. Things didn’t improve hugely as even though Winks provided more movement in the big hole between Cresswell and the back three to his right, the other Harry looked as about as short of match fitness as I am, Janssen was giving his worst performance thus far, Dembélé was anonymous and Wanyama’s first touch was generally a ping towards a fast approaching Hamster.
One down at half time Poch surprisingly made no changes and we were treated to more of the same slow moving porridge that allowed us to keep careful possession but rarely caused alarm in the West Ham area.
Oh ye of little faith. A flowing move, Rose into Janssen, a smart turn and shot too firm for Randolph and Winks on hand to prod home the rebound. Cue one very happy teenager.
We were now transformed, and using the full backs to good effect forced the visitors backwards with Dier coming closest to giving us the lead. Enter Mike Dean’s penalty fetish and once again we were behind, this time undeservedly.
Things drifted for a while as we pushed forward hoping that we wouldn’t get caught on the break, Bilic’s replacement of Sakho with the hopeless Zaza helping us there.
Alli and Son were brought on to pep things up but all they appeared to be doing was prove why they’d been left on the bench. Dele provided more movement but none of his tricks came off as he gingerly felt his strapped thigh, Son looked timid and half asleep whilst Kane had absolutely no zip or spring or anything useful.
People began leaving as the unpleasant outcome looked inevitable when the two least likely white shirts tossed the game on its head. First Son wriggled into enough space to drill a cross, via Randolph’s left hand, to the unmarked Kane who sidefooted home. Relief was the main emotion in the stand but Harry’s determined grab of the ball from the net and sprint with it back to the centre spot spoke of a different attitude on the pitch.
Havard Nordtveit hasn’t got the best of press thus far this campaign and so it was nice of Bilic to introduce him in place of Payet, West Ham’s most likely source of a third goal. The former Gooner’s reputation took another hit when he fell for Son’s trickery and Dean once more pointed to the spot. Kane smashed home and after Stephen Reid made the six minutes of injury time his own with his two yellows, we ended up with the three points we deserved but seemed very unlikely for the majority of the game. A 3-2 thriller.
“It’s happened again” rang round the ground.
The injuries continue to take a toll as did the international break. Clearly none of Kane, Alli or Dembélé were anywhere near fit and Son looked barely conscious. We are still without Toby, Lamela and Davies (important as Rose collected his fifth yellow and will miss Stamford Bridge). The result means that it’s easy to be kind about the display but the slow slow side to side build up play wasn’t just down to the half fit and the absentees. The intensity of last season was missing as it has been for most games and the lack of width is a real problem as it makes us easy to defend against.
Harry Winks will be very proud of his debut and deservedly so. Hard working, confident in his passing and of course, in the right place at the right time to bag his goal. Great stuff.
Two very very difficult away games up next. The words ‘dig deep’ will be used a lot in the next 7 days.
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