Any points won against the likes of Bolton/Stoke and now apparently West Ham are hard earned. The tactic of chucking it forward to the throwback as quick as you like, collecting the knock downs and putting a shoe in, it’s an approach that generally causes us trouble and did at Upton Park. Allardyce, Nolan, Taylor and Jaaskelainen have thwarted us before and know the score.
It was our worst performance for a while (jittery and square in defence, hurried in midfield) but also perversely one in which we created a recent record number of clear-cut chances. We won it at the death but with more clinicality would’ve had a cigar on well before Bale’s headline stealing screamer. The design of the up-and-at-em approach is to knock a possession based side out of its stride and into the hoardings and it worked as we struggled with our passing game from the off. We still took the lead though. The Standard at least reported that Allardyce had a special plan for Bale, one that involved letting him shoot at will apparently, how else to explain Demel’s pass to him for our opener?
Parker’s over-enthusiastic tackle/block in the box led to a home equaliser but to find ourselves 2-1 down with half an hour to go after a good start and a number of point blank misses was galling. Joe Cole had exploited the fragility in our back line (Assou-Ekotto must feel more than confident of gaining his place back for Sunday) to put us behind but Adebayor should’ve given us the lead a minute or so before when following up after Sigurdsson’s shot was deflected against the post. It could’ve been worse but Lloris made up for committing himself too quickly for Cole’s goal by haring off his line to thwart Taylor when he was clean through.
Sigurdsson’s appearance in place of Holtby was designed to bolster a midfield that was getting overrun and it worked as we piled on the pressure. He’s done well lately when brought on as sub and deserved to be the right man in the right place after Caulker and Adebayor had helped turn the West Ham six yard box into a mosh pit. Jaaskelainen continued to keep us at bay (particularly from Caulker who wasn’t far off a hat-trick) and it looked like we were going to have to settle for a point until the great man picked himself up from O’Brien’s body check, watched the Hamsters back off for a second and then pinged a dipper over the keeper’s left shoulder from way out. Cue mayhem.
There was no danger in the last few minutes as Allardyce’s subs and tactics for the last quarter of the game were all about sitting back and soaking up. Oh dear. We weren’t at our best, we didn’t need to be though as West Ham aren’t very good and play with a style that must frustrate those who remember John Lyall and Ron Greenwood, Trevor Brooking & Alan Devonshire.
The Academy my arse. Have your boys met our Gareth?
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