Sunday, 20 December 2009
West Ham 1 Chelsea 1 - Back to basics and off the bottom!
To begin, turkey is off the menu for me. I will check out the ingredients for humble pie and pop off to Tesco first thing in the morning. What idiot suggested surrendering the points because there was no way we could get a result? I stand guilty as accused. Pitch in guys, I deserve it!
Secondly, well done to the 12th man. The West Ham roar was back with a vengeance today and it put an extra yard into every West Ham player on the pitch - even Kovac! And amazingly, support for our guys exceeded the hounding of Lampard and Terry.
So how do we explain the transformation? Well here's where I recover some credibility because, of course, Zola came up with the incredibly original idea of playing a left footer on the left side of midfield and a right footer on the right. And what was the result? Suddenly we had balance. Suddenly the ball could be played wide. Suddenly the opposition full backs had something to think about. Suddenly our midfielders were tackling on the right foot if an opponent tried to pass them on the outside. Suddenly we looked like a team. Quite why it has taken Zola so long to hit upon this very basic idea is beyond me. Who knows, he may now stick with it!
Were we unlucky? The penalty was never a penalty and the referee did his best to make amends by making Lampard take it three times. Or perhaps he was just rubbing salt into the wound by forcing us to watch Lampard net three times in the space of two minutes! The encroachment decisions were absurd, we had five times as many players in the box when Lampard connected than Chelsea did! And the penalty decision was absurd too. Upson clearly took the ball, as was shown by where it ended up! But before we yell about being robbed, we should remember that Gabbidon deliberately handled in the box before he limped off and Green got the benefit of a 50:50 decision when he took out Kolu.
1-1 was a fair result on the day and that is to our tremendous credit. In truth, for all their possession, Chelsea created precious few openings thanks to a tremendously disciplined defensive performance. The entire team defended as a unit for the first time this season, I would suggest because, for the first time this season, everybody was comfortable in the positions they were asked to play.
Meanwhile, Chelsea made it easier for us by playing narrow, coming into our packed defensive bodies just as we did at Birmingham. Upson was superb and showed what we will miss if we sell him. Noble was everywhere defensively, as was Parker. Collison won the penalty and ran his heart out. Diamanti was impressive and tackled back with commendable verve, if not too much technique. Even Kovac occupied a space, although I lost count of the number of times he allowed Lampard to drift off his shoulder and out of eyeshot. He really isn't very focused. Up front, Franco was immense and was so unlucky not to head the winner in injury time. As for Parker's block on the line and clearance, that was brilliant. And he followed up by racing out and making a challenge on the edge of our box.
In recent weeks the team have lacked bite and fight but it was back today. The bookings for Noble, Parker and Franco speak of the passion and commitment as we contested that midfield as if we were in a war. Lampard, Bollocks, Cole and co must have wondered how they had ended up playing Bolton on an angry day at Upton Park! How Diamanti didn't get a yellow is a complete mystery - I counted three challenges which could have seen him booked.
The one big concern? Franco's booking. One more and he misses a game - and Cole isn't ready to return yet. That nightmare scenario of playing without either came a step closer!
But no negatives today. The team played for their shirts, the tactics were spot on, and the crowd were superb. If we can keep that going, we can escape!
Ratings: Green 5 (no difficult saves and he risked conceding a penalty. He also made a hash of a corner yet again)Faubert 6, Gabbidon 5 (Tomkins 7) Upson 8 Ilunga 7; Collison 7, Parker 8, Noble 8, Kovac 6, Diamanti 7 - Franco 8
Posted by Hammersfan at 18:13