Tuesday, 11th February 2014
First, a couple of random stats, courtesy of the BBC. Norwich had only won on four of their 24 visits to Upton Park and their last victory came back in 1987. Chris Hughton had made 60 substitutions in league games this season but not one of those changes had resulted in a goal or an assist. Those are the sort of stats I fear. If memory serves, Anelka scored his first Baggie goals against us. That's the sort of thing that happens to us...
Chris Hughton will undoubtedly complain the Canaries have been mugged tonight. In all truth, I can't disagree with him. The goals aside, Norwich had three or four really good chances. Hughton will probably also think they should have won. He's wrong there. I felt we had more of the pressure, without creating anything really clear cut for the most part. Overall, a draw would have done neither side much good, but would have been the fair result.
Before going any further, a word or two of praise for the ref. Preview Percy was a bit snarky about him (we had him at Anfield), but I thought he had a decent game. There were one or two times I was "how is that / is that not...", but I yell at our players for getting it wrong too. Everything I could argue he got wrong was an arguable decision. He didn't give a perfect performance i.e utterly anonymous, but he was mostly unnoticeable, which is what you want from a ref.
If we were going to go off the boiling point of the last few games, tonight was probably a good night to do it. We rode our luck at times. Not only did we get away it, we even pinched two goals, and a win which, on balance, we didn't really deserve.
The effort wasn't lacking tonight, but we didn't seem to be able to retain possession. The passing was misdirected too often, the tackles not quite crisp enough. A humdrum day at the office, if you see what I mean.
Another clean sheet is not to be sniffed at; the fourth consecutive. But Norwich had chances on nine, 22, and 45 minutes. Adrian made good saves on the first and last; Tomkins absolutely saved us on 22 with a challenge better than the one on Bony against Swansea.
We started to exert some control and some pressure from about 20 minutes, but failed to fashion a really good chance. The shots we put on target were easy for Ruddy. Our best passage of play, around 38 minutes, was spoilt by Cole going down easily in the box (definitely no penalty), then lying there protesting when he should have been getting his arse off the deck. The ball came back in several seconds later, and he was still horizontal & protesting. Not what I want to see. If he'd been on his feet...
The first third of the second half was scrappy. Borriello for Cole at half time, again, was no great surprise. The trouble is, whilst he, as an Italian international, unsurprisingly looks a cut above the unfortunate Maiga, he still faces exactly the same problem. He wants the ball passed in to his feet, not aimlessly banged up somewhere near him. AC thrives on that, but it looks like another "square peg in round hole" signing by Signor Allardici.
Although there was a period of 10 minutes or so in the last third of the game where we were looking a bit wobbly; certainly the more likely to concede & it took another good save from Adrian to deny Hooper & Norwich on 68; the introduction of Diame for Jarvis on the hour did make a difference.
Mo looked lively & purposeful when he came on. As always, half of what he does results in not a lot, but he had our first really decent chance on 76, only to draw a great point-blank stop from Ruddy. Just a few minutes later, a good Mo cross ironically tempted Ruddy into his only mistake of the game & Ginge's flick header gave us a welcome if undeserved lead.
Norwich didn't fashion another decent chance. One free-kick straight down Adrian's throat was the best they could manage. In the last minute of stoppage time, a break, a bobble, a deflection, a goal for Diame. A 2-0 win that really was rather harsh on Norwich and on Hughton. Given the luck we've had this season.. I'll take that!
In advance of Wednesday's games, we're in nose-bleed territory, having risen to 10th. Happily, we have the ice-pack of still being a mere four points above relegation to cure that! If anyone wants to offer me two draws in the next two games, I'll take them right now. If I'm honest, odd though it sounds, I'd rather have two points than a win and defeat...
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Three excellent saves, but on two of them, Hooper made it easier than he should have. Which is why Tomkins beats him to MotM. Also thought he might have held Norwich's first chance on 9 minutes.
Not one of his better games, but got away with getting beaten a couple of times...
A little lacklustre in comparison with the last couple of games. Just like practically everyone else.
Nice flick header for the first goal, not overly tested in defence tonight, long balls forward dodgy again.
Man of the Match. Brilliant challenge on 22 mins to stop Johnson. Several other important interventions, no errors. Top man!
Made one nice break to the edge of the Norwich box, but couldn't get his shot on target. Another one below the standard of the last few fixtures. Worked hard, but passing was a little off tonight.
Worked as you would expect, but less effective at breaking up the opposing midfield than he has been in the last couple of games.
Manoeuvred himself into some nice positions, but wasted them. Worked back well, but not great going forward. Don't think he's quite recovered the form he was in when he got injured at Liverpool.
Nothing awful, nothing particularly great either.
Misfiring on all cylinders. Effort was there, product wasn't.
Not so much carthorse as donkey tonight. Struggled to impose himself on the defence, couldn't retain possession, lay on his back asking for a penalty he didn't deserve when he should have been getting to his feet.
For the second game running showed nice touches & glimpses of quality, but unless we try to play to his strengths, he's another Maiga - a player stuffed by Sam's inflexible unimaginative tactics.
Only on for 30 minutes, but looked much more like last season's Mo. Made a real impact on the game.
Picked up a booking for I'm not sure what. Once again ran around a lot, & scores for enthuiasm, but had little chance to really make a difference.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Man of the Match: James Tomkins.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Guy Demel, George McCartney, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Matt Taylor, Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis, Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole.
Goals: James Collins 84 Mo Diame 90 .
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..