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West Ham United v Southampton

Filed: Friday, 19th October 2012
By: Preview Percy

Our next fixture is a home match against Southampton who will be making the trek up the M3 for a 3pm kick-off at the Boleyn.

The good people at TfL are spoiling us again. Realising that there has been an international break and that you might be getting withdrawal symptoms, they have kindly laid on some engineering works on the District Line. For a change. Not. That there are no trains running direct between Barking & Upminster on either the District Line or on the rubbishly-named C2C line. There’s a shuttle between Grays, Upminster and Pitsea which means you can go the long way round if you’re coming from stations east of Upminster but otherwise good luck.

The visitors arrive in less than the rudest of health. They are separated from the drop zone by one place and one point at the moment having taken four points from their seven games. An opening day 3-2 away defeat to champions Man City was followed up by a 2-0 home reverse to Wigan and another 3-2 defeat to the other half of Manchester. They then shipped 6 at the Emirates before finally opening their account with a 4-1 win over Villa. Norma; service was resumed with a 3-1 defeat at Everton whilst last time out they required a late equaliser to nick a home point against Fulham. Only the poor form of the equally annoying Reading is keeping them from a position in the relegation places at present.

Few who witnessed the play-acting and diving at the Boleyn last season will be too upset at their poor start to the season. The refusal of manager Adkins to condemn his players’ antics when invited so to do won them few friends, particularly amongst the gentlemen of Her Majesty’s press corps, one of whom was involved in a Paxman-esque exchange with Adkins on the subject after the corresponding match last season in which the Southampton boss repeatedly refused to answer a simple yes/no question regarding the performance of that night’s referee.

As we have often seen, a certain not currently in full time employment manager has not been slow to mobilise his chums on what was once called “Fleet Street.” Despite a total lack of any indication that Adkins’ job was in any way in danger, the name of H Redknapp started to be bandied about as a possible replacement. I suppose that, being on the South coast it must be slightly closer should one want to hop across the Channel to visit one’s money. However Southampton Airport isn’t one of the busier aerodromes I have ever visited and I don’t suppose there’s the most regular of services to Nice (change here for Monaco).

They’ve had a few goalkeeping issues. Veteran ‘keeper – and nearly a Hammer – Kelvin Davies was dropped after the 6-1 thrashing at Arsenal, though he’ll probably be able to claim that his absence is down to injury – either backache or post traumatic disorder. He was replaced by Paulo Gazzaniga. The 20-year-old Argentinian made his debut in the win over Villa and has been in possession of the different coloured shirt ever since.

To add to his options, Adkins also picked up the ex-Celtic custodian Artur Boruc who was on the “kicking my heels waiting for a phonecall” list having been released by Fiorentina during the summer. Having had a few weeks to build up some fitness since his arrival towards the end of September, the 32 year-old glovesman may be pushing for a start, especially if Adkins were to revert to the more traditional managerial view that ‘keepers improve with age.

Defensively they’ve been suffering – on Adkins own admission he’s been a bit cheesed off with some of the goals they’ve shipped. “We need to start learning from our own mistakes” he grumbled after the Fulham draw. One player who is seemingly slow to get the point is Dutch defender Jos Hooiveld. His own goal against Fulham was his second of the season, having previously netted at the wrong end against Arsenal. The clues were there when he did the same thing in pre-season, though he came out with a great post match “clarification” on that one: “The last time I scored an own goal in pre-season we had a great season” he claimed.

As form pointers go it’s pretty lame – I remember the last time I scored an own goal in pre-season I got a kicking from my team-mates that kept me out of the side for several weeks. In fact it was so hard to regain my place I had to remind the manager that I knew where he really spent his Wednesday evenings when his wife thought he was out doing extra training. Hooiveld started the Fulham game from the bench but was called into action as part of the defensive reshuffle caused by injury to right-back Frazer Richardson, whose hip injury is likely to keep him out of this match.

Hooiveld’s defensive colleague Jose Fonte has at least got his bearings right. He was on target twice in the Fulham match his header from a 4th minute corner giving them the lead and his 89th minute header from a free-kick rescuing the point. File under “keep an eye on at set pieces then”.

There’s been a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of midfielder Jason Puncheon. This time last year he was very much on Adkins’ “pariah” list. Over the past couple of years the two have barely been on speaking terms and Puncheon was being shipped out on loan to anyone who would have him (ie Blackpool and QPR). The spell at QPR saw little in the way of first XI action and when he got back to Hants he was pointed in the direction of the muddy pitches where the youth team was training and told that the nice pitches were for first team squad members only.

Inevitably this led to the player having a tweet (is that the phrase?) in which he dug out the chairman and threatened to see out his career at the club doing the bare minimum until his contract was up. Then, suddenly, all was sweetness and light. Possibly galvanised by the thought that they might lose money on the player Southampton started picking him again. And, possibly galvanised by the possibility that nobody actually wanted him anyway and that Winston Bogarde might want royalties on the contract idea, , the player started to knuckle down and sort his attitude out. We were even linked with him at one stage this summer, though frankly, we were linked with everyone at one stage or another this summer.

There have been a few changes over the summer. Billy Sharp, whose playacting in the corresponding match last season got Matt Taylor sent off, has gone out on loan to Forest for the rest of the season. They spent a few bob on attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez who arrived in the summer from Bologna. Even being a (reportedly) £12m player doesn’t protect you from injury and, following a training ground injury, he has a dead leg which will apparently keep him out of action for a few more weeks yet. So, unless Adkins is playing silly buggers, we won’t see him for this one.

The equally-exotically-named-but-somewhat-more-prosaically-backgrounded Jay Rodriguez arrived in close season clutching a thermos of hot Benedictine from Burnley, where he had enjoyed a prolific career up front for his local club. Always useful at second tier level, it’s early days for the striker who has one goal to his name in the league this term.

Then there’s Rickie Lambert. He recently went into print bemoaning the fact that in his younger days he perhaps didn’t look after himself as befits a professional footballer of this day and age. “When I lived in Liverpool I ate and drank whatever I wanted” he said, which, unless Liverpool’s changed a lot in recent weeks, probably means burgers, Southern Fried Chicken and lager. For breakfast. “I’ve cut right down on the beers now” he continued, possibly hinting at the cause of his Suarez-like unsteadiness on his feet when in the box over the past few years.

It is up front that we turn to for this week’s “Crimewatch Corner”. Brazilian Guly Do Prado is currently cadging lifts to and from training following his ban for driving his Porsche erratically down the High Street with 57mg of alcohol in his breath. It was the car that got him caught. Having spent a chunk of my youth in that part of the world I can confirm that the quality of driving in Southampton is so poor nobody would have noticed had the player been pottering along in a Ford Focus. Whilst his 12 month ban (9 months if he turns up to have someone wag their finger at him for being stupid enough to drink and drive) and £2,600 fine hardly puts him in the Gary Charles class, it’s still quite heartwarming to see an overseas player doing so much to fit in with the British way of life, and Do Prado is a worthy entrant into the Crimewatch Corner Club.

And so to us. Here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered we weren’t too upset about the result of the last match. Of course that’s partly because the game was two weeks ago and most of us here have difficulty remembering what we had for breakfast this morning. However, having been shown the match again on the box, there was much about which to be encouraged. If we hadn’t shot ourselves in the foot and managed to get to half time without conceding I reckon we’d have had a different result. As it was a couple of defensive lapses cost us dear. Still we pushed a decent side all the way and the game was still up for grabs until quite late in the proceedings.

Team news is that Ricardo Vaz Te is out for quite a while – possibly until next year – having dislocated his shoulder. Guy Demel is also a doubt following the hip and/or thigh problem that curtailed his evening against Arsenal. Joey O’Brien’s “knock” should have healed though so he should be available for selection. Collison and Diarra will continue to keep RVT company in the Kieron Dyer Long Term Treatment Wing of the Physio department.

Other than that we should have a full squad to pick from. The main threat to Andy Carroll’s fitness over the past few days has been the possibility of catching his death in the wretched weather they’ve had this week. Bit of a farce all that wasn’t it. One does wonder at what stage it was that somebody realised that the stadium actually had a roof. Probably just before the water reached that level I expect. They’d have been a bit quicker in closing the roof had there been a threat of Cliff Bloody Richard singing to them.

Prediction? Well despite their lowly position they still have the capability to cause problems, particularly if certain of our defenders continue to have lapses in concentration as they have in recent games. However, we still ought to have too much for them – we’re unusual in that we can take more out of a defeat in our last match than they can from a point in theirs. So, based on probable confidence levels mixed with a touch of “gut feeling” I shall be putting all of the Rest Home’s Charity of The Week Fund (This week’s charity: The Campaign To Send Cliff Bloody Richard to Poland. Or Anywhere) on us to win. That’ll be all £2.50 on a 2-1 home win please Mr Winstone.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: Drew 1-1, February 2012. Aided by a woefully compliant referee in the form of Lee Probert, Southampton sneaked a point at the Boleyn against a Hammers side at reduced to ten men after Billy Sharp went down clutching his face after a slight push in the chest from Matt Taylor.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick. Last seen handling the first leg of the Play-Off Semi-Final in Cardiff, which was good. Also did Reading away last season. Which wasn’t.

Danger Man: Rickie Lambert. A player capable of sticking them away. Also takes penalties which he has been known to 'win'.

Daft Fact Of The Week: The bloke who is the drummer in Coldplay comes from Southampton apparently. And someone who won something called the X-Factor a few years ago. And Craig David. There are secret contingency plans to entice Cliff Bloody Richard to play there and encase the whole place in 20 billion tons of concrete in order to protect the rest of the country from further punishment.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 93; West Ham Utd 36, Southampton 30, Draws 27.

First Meeting
10th January 1920: Southampton 0-0 West Ham Utd (The Dell, FA Cup)

Biggest Win
19th April 1952: West Ham Utd 4-0 Southampton (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)

Heaviest Defeat
4th February 1967: Southampton 6-2 West Ham Utd (The Dell, Division One)

January 1962: Southampton 2-6 West Ham Utd (Tindall 3, Musgrove 2, Scott)
June 1968: Southampton 4-2 (Best, Hartley) - played in the USA
April 1981: West Ham Utd 4-3 Southampton (Cross, Ferguson, Barnes, Pearson)
August 2008: Southampton 2-2 West Ham Utd (Davenport, Hines)

Early Baths
Mark Ward (H) 1987-88; Matt Taylor (H) 2011-12.

They Played For Both
Bill Adams; Eyal Berkovic; Iain Dowie; Richard Hall; Robbie Slater; David Connolly; Paul Allen; Jim Harris; Joe Kirkup; David Speedie; Justin Fashanu; Vic Watson; Wayne Bridge; Nigel Quashie; Richard Wright; Walter Pollard; Calum Davenport; George Kitchen.

Bossing It
Former West Ham United players Harry Redknapp and George Kay have both been
managers at Southampton.

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.

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