Filed: Tuesday, 25th September 2012
By: Preview Percy
The home matches come thick and fast (well two in four days anyway) as we return to action in the League Cup where our third round opponents will be Wigan Athletic.
Kick-off on Tuesday is 7.45pm and, as with all League Cup matches apart from the semi-finals, the tie will be finished on the night with extra time and kicks from the penalty mark available should the scores remain level after 90 and 120 minutes respectively. Yes, I know you know that but you’d be surprised at how many don’t.
In the league the visitors occupy 15th place with four points from five games. An opening day 2-0 defeat to Chelsea was followed up by a 2-0 win at Southampton (their sole league win this season), a 2-2 home draw with Stoke and a 4-0 thumping at Manchester United. Last weekend saw them go down 2-1 at home to Fulham, a side whose away form over the past year or so has been patchy at best. The victory at St Mary’s apart, their only other win came in the 2nd round of the League Cup where a 4-1 win at Forest looked as easy as it sounds.
We’ve gone over the crimes perpetrated against humanity by the club’s owner David “Dave” Whelan ad nauseam in the past so I don’t intend to mention his background in child slave labour, illegal price-fixing, Rugby League wage-cap breaking and dubious share dealing. Apart from this bit, obviously.
It was quite funny seeing the old hypocrite tie himself into knots over the summer over the future of Latics’ boss Roberto Martinez. Clearly there were pound signs in Whelan’s eyes as the prospect arose of making a few quid out of what is arguably the club’s prize asset.
You could barely pick up a paper without some pronouncement from Whelan who, firstly seemed keen not to stand in his manager’s way if Liverpool came knocking, then, when the appointment of Brendon Rodgers meant that prising a few bob out of the scousers was a non-starter, Whelan changed the lyrics, if not the actual tune: “I would now like it to be known that I would not stand in his way if Spurs want to talk to him”.
In amongst being hawked around like something being flogged on eBay (and it wouldn’t have come a surprise had there actually been an advert) Martinez maintained a dignified silence. And Spurs, for their part, just went for the bloke who managed Chelsea for a few weeks last season, thus saving themselves whatever amount of “compensation” Whelan had in mind.
There were some notable departures during the summer window. From our point of view the arrival of Mo Diame was a most welcome addition to the team – especially as he came in on a free. Similarly, the departure of Hugo Rodallega will have weakened the team from last season – again without making any addition to the Wigan (or Whelan) coffers. Rodallega scored against his old club for Fulham at the weekend – something Diame might consider emulating if selected.
It wasn't all free transfers, Whelan would have been rubbing his hands at the £10m received from Chelsea for Victor Moses and a further million or so came in from Derby in return for Connor Sammon. However, Martinez managed to get his hands on most of the money first and laid out £5m on Ivorian striker Arouna Kone and £4m on centre back Ivan Ramis.
Koune arrived from Levante who had entered into an unusual deal with his previous club Sevilla. The deal was that he would be on loan for most of 2011/12 with the deal becoming permanent at the end of the season. There was, however, one added clause. If the player managed to score 18 or more goals he would automatically be sent back to Sevilla.
After netting 15 times, helping Levante to European qualification in the process, he suddenly discovered a minor twinge in something or other which, entirely by coincidence you understand, meant that he missed the last three games of the season. This meant that he didn't have to go back to Sevilla and that Levante could sell him. Which they did. To Wigan. Koune has two goals thus far having netted in the win against Southampton and in last weekend's defeat to Fulham.
Ramis ended up at Wigan having failed to agree terms with our good selves as we turned our attention to the Ginger Pele instead. He had a nightmare start against Chelsea being at fault for both Chelsea goals, including giving away a penalty for the second.
If the previous League Cup match is anything to go by they are likely to go with the modern trend of resting first choice players and give some of those on the fringe a run-out. This may see appearances from the likes of striker Callum McManaman (some sort of distant relative to Steve) and on loan Arsenal forward Ryo Miyaichi, both of whom made appearances from the bench against Fulham.
As for us, we're likely to make similar changes ourselves. Stephen Henderson started the match against Crewe in the previous round as did Modibo Maiga, The noises from Chadwell Heath are suggesting that Yossi Benayoun will get his first start since his return whilst Robert Hall and Dan Potts may also get to stay up late on a school night. All of which means that the side that takes the pitch for this one will bear little resemblance to that which drew with Sunderland on Saturday.
In the cold light of day I reckon that the draw at the weekend represents two points lost, as opposed to one gained, despite the lateness of the equaliser. Although we battered them there were some areas that caused concern. The lack of cutting edge up front meant that chances and possession that ought to have seen us winning comfortably were squandered leaving us dependent on a last-gasp goal.
Secondly, the fact that we were behind at all was, pure and simply, our own damned fault. The loose pass from Collins was compounded by his failure to pick up Fletcher as play continued. It's hard enough to win in the Premier League without giving your opponents a head start and more attack-minded opponents might have gone on to punish our lapses – as Swansea did a few weeks back.
Predictions? Well the changes that both teams are likely to make means that the guesswork will be even more vague than usual. It'll all boil down to whether our batch of youngsters and fringe players are better than their bunch of fringe players and youngsters. Damned if I know but since I don't get my Werthers' Originals unless I make a prediction, I shall be putting the Rest Home's Double Glazing Replacement fund (£2.50) on us to win – let's call it 2-1 after extra time because I fancy another trip to Wembley.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met: Lost 2-3 (a). Had we won this match we had an (admittedly small) chance of staying up. That rather depended on us not shooting ourselves in the foot by, for example, throwing away a two goal lead. Guess what happened. Avram Grant was sacked within seconds of the final whistle. We won the earlier fixture at the Boleyn 3-1 with goals from Obinna, Behrami and Parker in a match marketed as “Save Our Season”. That worked out well didn’t it?
Referee: Craig Pawson. His only Hammers match to date was the 1-1 draw at Bristol City last April that all but condemned us to the playoffs.
Danger Man: Arouna Kone. Difficult to pick a danger man when the teams are so liable to change from the norm but since he's their top scorer I'll plump for him in the hope I won't be made to look silly if they leave him out.
Daft Fact Of The Week: According to the marvellous Meaning Of Liff by Douglas Adams & John Lloyd if, when talking to someone you know has only one leg, you're trying to treat them perfectly casually and normally, but find to your horror that your conversation is liberally studded with references to (a) Long John Silver, (b) Hopalong Cassidy, (c) the Hokey Cokey, (d) 'putting your foot in it', (e) 'the second leg of the Europa Cup', you are said to have committed a wigan. The word is derived from the fact that sub-editors at ITN used to manage to mention the name of either the town Wigan, or Lord Wigg, in every fourth script that Reginald Bosanquet was given to read.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 18; West Ham Utd 10, Wigan 2, Draws 6.
29th November 2003: West Ham Utd 4-0 Wigan (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
15th August 2004: West Ham Utd 1-3 Wigan (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
7th January 1984: West Ham Utd 1-0 Wigan (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
They Played For Both
Roy Carroll; Henri Camara; Bill Wade; Mohamed Diame; Mark Ward; Jimmy Bullard.
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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