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West Ham United v Arsenal

Filed: Saturday, 6th October 2012
By: Preview Percy

Next we return to the Boleyn where we play host to Arsenal. Kick-off is a television-inspired 5.30pm.

A look at the travel sites suggest that the late kick-off may be no bad thing. Much of the District line is out with only a shuttle service between Barking and West Ham in operation between 2-11pm. C2C trains between Barking & Upminster are also off the menu so you’ll have to do a spot of planning. I tend to avoid the District Line myself. When I was last on there I was horrified to notice that my train carried neither first class compartment nor dining car. And the furore that erupted when I pulled the red handle to summon a steward when we fancied a pot of tea was a nightmare.

Arsenal arrive in 8th place having gained 9 points from their 6 games. That’s one place and two points behind us. They drew their opening pair of matches, at home to Sunderland and away to Stoke, 0-0. They gained their first win at Anfield with a 2-0 victory over the Red Scousers. This was followed up with a 6-1 win over Southampton, a 1-1 draw at Man City and, last weekend they were defeated 2-1 at home to Chelsea. Their last outing, in midweek, saw them beat Olympiakos 3-1 in the interminably long and dull group stages of the so-called Champions League, a result that appears to have been better than the performance if my newspaper is to be believed.

Like the first cuckoo of spring, there is an almost inevitable air to the bi-annual ritual of Arsenal supporters – and players – going into print and onto the airwaves on the wireless bemoaning the fact that they haven’t bought anyone much. Ex-defender Tony Adams was the latest to venture an opinion, describing his former employers as a “selling club”. How’s the managerial career going Tony? Adams’ comments were echoed by shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who owns about a third of the club, as well as a box at Chelsea. Note to SuGo: much as one acknowledges your input to our club, should you hold a box at another ground I’d probably keep quiet about it.

In amongst all the hand-wringing over the departures of Van Persie and Song they did actually bring in three players for a combined total of £44m. German Lukas Podolski arrived in the summer window having been a hot favourite to make the move last winter. The 27 year-old striker has been capped over 100 times for the German national side scoring over 40 times in the process, which isn’t bad. As his name suggests, there is a Polish background to his family, who emigrated to what was then West Germany when little Lukas was a nipper. Qualifying for both Poland and Germany at international level, he described his decision to plump for Germany as a difficult one: “there are two hearts beating in my chest” he commented, this probably referring to his divided loyalties rather than any weird Time Lord stuff going on. In the end Germany won his vote, presumably as he wanted some variety in World Cup qualifiers rather than being drawn against England every bloody time.

Not for the first time boss Wenger returned to his home country for his next signing. Olivier Giroud arrived from Montpelier in the summer having scored 21 goals last term for the surprise French champions. This figure put him equal top of the goalscoring charts over the Channel, though Giroud was awarded the “chaussure d’or” (or whatever it is they award over there) over his rival Nene (from PSG) by virtue of having scored more goals from open play in the French season. His start at the library hasn’t been the most eye-catching to date with him failing to net in his first five games. He finally broke his “canard” in the 6-1 defeat of Coventry in the League Cup but concerns about the player’s confidence still remain apparently.

The third arrival of the summer was winger Santi Carzola who, at £20m was reportedly the most expensive of the new boys. The 27 year-old Spaniard spent the majority of his career at Villareal, at one point announcing to the world that he’d turned down a move to Real Madrid. He spent last season at Malaga scoring nine in 38 league matches. He also picked up a winner’s medal this summer in Euro 2012, though he was very much a squad player making only two sub appearances in the process. He is apparently equally at home on either flank, which will possibly mean a spot of fun for both of our full-backs.

Despite the outlay of the £44m during the window, it is the improved goal return from one of the old boys that has caught the eye thus far this season. Gervinho, the Ivorian striker who arrived at the start of last season has picked up 5 goals this season, 3 of which have come in his 5 league appearances. That’s a bit of a contrast to his start to last season when, under the lightest of touches from Joey Barton, he went down in the box at Newcastle, getting himself sent off for the most girly of slaps on the now-exiled bad boy. Gervinho, from whom the writers of the tv series “Red Dwarf” clearly got the inspiration for the “Duane Dibley” character, was also on the mark against Olympiakos the other night and would appear to be the form player. Despite this, at least one Arsenal “blogger” (as I believe the expression goes) reported thus after the Chelsea match: I find it amazing that this guy is paid to play professional football, moreso that he plays for us. You hear Arsene talk so often about the intelligence he prizes in his players and yet Gervinho seems to have none. If we’re relying on him to lead the line more often than not, then we’re in trouble. Sounds like the sort of player that traditionally scores against us then.

When writing these things, the research for what we like to refer as “Crimewatch Corner” can sometimes be a pain. It may be hard to believe but not all football clubs have players who have had close shaves with the law. However, over the years Arsenal is a club that has never been one to disappoint, be it Tony Adams’ spell inside for rearranging a wall using only his car, Paul Merson’s revelations that coke is not just the name of a soft-drink, or daddy of them all Peter Storey whose record includes convictions for counterfeiting gold coins, importation of pornography and brothel-keeping. Strangely, nobody prosecuted Storey for calling his autobiography the wince–inducing “True Storey” – possibly on the grounds that it was only the second most cringeworthy pun for a book title in football history – Storey’s erstwhile teammate the late Alan Ball running away with the medal for his effort “It’s All About A Ball”.

Arsenal like to rant on about their “traditions” so it was heartening to discover that the current crop are keeping up the good work. Midfielder Andre Santos was hauled up before the beak recently picking up a year’s ban and a stiff fine for a spot of speeding on the way to training. There were two rather mystifying elements to the conviction. Firstly, the description of the offence saw the player weaving his Maserati in and out of traffic on the M25 at 140mph causing other road users to swerve and brake sharply. Usually this would be enough to get you on a charge of Dangerous Driving, for which a custodial is often the result. Indeed the player was initially charged with that offence, only for the charges to be mysteriously dropped in favour of the lesser speeding charge of which he was eventually convicted. The other baffling thing is that, even if my old jalopy were capable of such speeds, I’m damned sure that I’ve never seen the M25 so quiet as to allow 140mph speeds. And I’ve regularly driven along the bloody thing at 3am.

And so to us. It was a decent win the other night – particularly in the first half. Here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered we’ve been laughing our socks off at the reaction of the QPR fans’ to the result. Apparently we “bullied them”. Actually guys, no we didn’t. QPR were so bloody awful in that first half we didn’t even need to look at them in a menacing way, let alone go into full on bully mode. I suppose that looking at the raw stats, 8 yellow cards must seem like a bloodbath of sorts. Until, of course, you see that the referee was Mark Clattenburg. QPR’s wasn’t the only inept performance the other night and it is annoying that the club will come under some form of automatic disciplinary sanction rather than any investigation being undertaken into Clattenburg.

Injury news is fairly good. Joey O’Brien, who limped off with a “knock” the other night, is the major doubt with Linda standing by to resume at left-back. Winston Reid should be ok, his bang on the head from his “coming together” with JJ resulting in a mild concussion, which, in the grand scheme of things, probably wasn’t as bad as the jet lag he gets from a home match for New Zealand. Alou Diarra and Jack Collison are the only two long term absentees from the squad, which was boosted by the return of Andy Carroll at Loftus Road.

Prediction? Well this will be the first test against a side playing in the so-called Champions League and so, in theory anyway this will be our toughest test so far this season. However, over the years our manager has enjoyed putting one over on their boss – another who runs home to mummy complaining of “bullying” the second anyone dares to put in a tackle on his little darlings. It’ll all be in the preparation for Mr Allardyce – and that’s one area in which the boss is rarely found wanting. Given a fair following wind and a spot of luck we might take all three points but I think it’ll be a match in which the point would be well and truly respected. I will therefore be off to see Mr Winstone at the Turf Accountants to place the Rest Home’s collection to buy Mark Clattenburg a brain (£2.50) on a 2-2 draw as we start to consolidate ourselves in the top half.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Lost 0-3 (January 2011, Boelyn Ground). A woeful 90 minutes from an injury ravaged side managed by Avram Grant who, a club insider had “revealed” to the press, had less than 48 hours left in the job. If that had been the case the players didn’t seem too fussed.

Referee: Phil Dowd. Last seen huffing and puffing as he pulled his less than svelte frame about Stamford Bridge as we went down 3-0 in our relegation season. Only able to referee this season after being given a second chance at the pre-season fitness test which he managed to fail first time round this summer. That chant about not being fit to referee might actually be more accurate than usual this weekend..

Danger Man: Gervinho. The Arsenal blogger’s reservations about the player makes him more likely to score than not in my book.

Daft fact of the week: There is a website that has a running clock showing how long it is since they last won a trophy at sincearsenallastwonatrophy.co.uk.

There used to be one that showed how long it was since Arsene Wenger last saw one of his players commit a foul. It had to be closed down when it was realised that the processing power requited to run a clock that would go back that far exceeded that available in the known universe by a factor of several million.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 125; West Ham Utd 33, Arsenal 54, Draws 38.

First Meeting
13th January 1906: Arsenal 1-1 West Ham Utd (Highbury, FA Cup)

Biggest Win
7th March 1927: West Ham Utd 7-0 Arsenal (Boleyn Ground, Division One)

Heaviest Defeat
20th March 1976: Arsenal 6-1 West Ham Utd (Highbury, Division One)

Memorable Match
10th May 1980: Arsenal 0-1 West Ham Utd (Wembley, FA Cup Final)

Long before the introduction of modern, counter-attacking systems such as those employed by the likes of Sam Allardyce, John Lyall played a tactical masterstroke in opting to play David Cross as a lone striker. It was a policy that served to confuse Arsenal's purportedly superior team, who despite enjoying long spells of possession often found themselves unable to find the gaps that a more familiar 442 system would have allowed for.

The only goal of the game was to arrive after just 13 minutes through the most unlikely of sources - Trevor Brooking's head. Whilst renowned for his silky skills and uncanny ability to pick out a team mate almost instantaneously, Brooking's only previous headed goal of note had come four years earlier against Eintracht Frankfurt (see above). This time he ducked to convert Stuart Pearson's cross-cum-shot from inside the six yard box to score what would prove to be the most valuable goal of his entire career.

Paul Allen, who became the youngest player ever to feature in an FA Cup Final was left in tears at the final whistle - and not because of Willie Young's disgraceful 'professional foul' three minutes from time when the youngster was free on goal with just Pat Jennings to beat.

September 1950: West Ham Utd 3-1 Arsenal (Gazzard, Johns, Robinson)
January 1960: Arsenal 0-1 West Ham Utd (Bond)

Early Baths
Dave Swindlehurst (H) 1984-85; Alvin Martin (A) 1985-86; Julian Dicks (A) 1995-96; Mark Vivien-Foe (H) 1999-2000; Trevor Sinclair (A) 1999-2000; Steve Lomas (A) 2002-03; Carlton Cole (H) 2008-09; Scott Parker (H) 2009-10.

They Played For Both
Jeremie Aliadiere; Manuel Almunia; James Bigden; Jimmy Bloomfield; Louis Boa Morte; Liam Brady; Dick Burgess; Kaba Diawara; Stan Earle; Bert Fletcher; John Hartson; Fergus Hunt; James Jackson; Fred Kemp; Henri Lansbury; Tom Lee; Harry Lewis; William Linwood; Freddie Ljungberg; Roddy McEachrane; Jimmy Marshall; John Radford; Stewart Robson; Charlie Satterthwaite; Davor Suker; Matthew Upson; Charlie Walker; Nigel Winterburn; Ian Wright; Richard Wright.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Desmond Ruyten
02:54PM 7th Oct 2012
''We are not going to struggle this season and the game against Arsenal will only be decided because of the class of squad that they have and those individuals who can influence play with the cutting pass and open vision style that is their signature this current season. We still need to bring in out-and-out strikers Charlie Austin, Wilfred Zaha, who could ease into Premier goal scoring simply in that it comes natural to score goals as Rickie Lambert has shown at Southampton this season.

With Andy Carroll plus these type of finishers our position in the Premier League would be secure for the foreseeable future.''

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