Saturday, 15th September 2012
Sam Allardyce started off with the usual 4-5-1 formation when defending and 4-3-3 on the attack, as follows:
Jaaskalainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, OíBrien; Noble, Nolan, Diame; Vaz Te, Cole, Taylor.
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Mccartney, Diarra, Jarvis, Benayoun, Maiga.
There was an early scare when Norwich had a shot just go wide after they worked the ball well past Collins, cutting back inside the box and trying to curl the ball into the goal. Luckily for us, the ball just went wide. Bar that early scare we started the first half very well.
On 13 minutes Diame played a lovely through ball to Vaz Te down the right and for the only time in the game, the Portuguese forward took on his defender before firing a shot at Ruddy.
The goalkeeper parried ball straight onto Coleís head with Coleís heading being cleared off the line. Good defending, but could Cole have done better? To be fair to Cole the ball was behind him.
Immediately after that, the ball fell to Matt Taylor whose right-footed shot whistled wide of the post. If it had been on his left, you got the feeling it wouldíve been a goal.
West Ham's next big chance fell to Kevin Nolan six minutes later, with Joey OíBrien doing extremely well down the left hand side and squaring the ball for Nolan, only for the captain to hit the ball straight at Ruddy.
This was soon followed by a moment of pinball in the Irons' box. Firstly, the ball was squared and Jaaskalainen could only parry straight into the danger zone. Winston Reid did fantastically well to slide in and block and two further fine saves from Jaaskalainen later, the ball was finally cleared!
The main talking point of the game was James Collinsí late tackle just on the edge of the box and whether it was or wasnít a penalty. Collins slid in recklessly and it was a heart in mouth moment for us fans in the away end. Thankfully referee Chris Foy got the decision right; the replays clearly showed that it wasnít a penalty.
There was another shout for a penalty for Norwich when Snodgrass dramatically went to ground following Nolanís challenge; Foy did extremely well on both decisions however generally the refereeing was poor - especially in the second half as he blew his whistle continuously, mainly for West Ham fouls.
Little happened for us at all in the second half and it was Norwich who provided the most noteworthy chances. Round about the 50th minute Simon Jackson had a lethal strike which Jaaskalainen did very well tip over the bar.
The innefective Carlton Cole was soon replaced by Modibo Maiga. Cole just couldnít get into the game although the service he received wasnít the best, with the midfield/wingers not supporting him enough. This remained the case when Maiga came on.
Matt Taylor was subsequently replaced by Matt Jarvis who showed a few glimpses of his class by whipping in a couple of excellent crosses - but the service to the front three still lacked in quality. Finally, debutant (second tiem around) Yossi Benayoun came off for Vaz Te, who had had a very poor game.
Vaz appeared afraid to take on his defender and on the odd occasion he did get into a crossing opportunity he failed to make the most of it either spooning it over bar or delivering his cross too deep. Benayoun, on the other hand looked sharp and ready to go and brought some much-needed creativity into the team.
In the dying minutes of the game Norwich broke on the counter attack after Diameís volley was blocked. It was a three versus two situation and the travelling faithful held their breath, perhaps thinking momentarily that it was game over.
The ball was slid into Harry Kane's path but thankfully the young striker, on loan from Spurs passed the ball right into Jaaskalainenís chest for a comfortable save! The final chance of the game fell to Norwich with Snodgrass also having a shot saved by Jaaskalainen.
During the game the atmosphere was brilliant and overall it's hard to be disappointed with a point away from home against Norwich. Thatís now three games out of four that West Ham have kept a clean sheet which is very encouraging, whilst the defence has been superb so far.
Onto Sunderland at home. Come on you Irons.
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He kept us in the game with some of his saves, however his kicking was awful. At times he just couldnít get the ball off the ground and that nearly cost us.
Defended solidly and kept the Norwich wingers fairly quiet. He was always trying to bomb on in the attack but lacked that killer ball.
Joey O Brien
The Norwich wingers seemed to have the beating of him during the game. There was one moment where all he had to do was put the ball in Row Z but instead managed to lose it, which gave us into a nervous moment.
Played very well. Similar to Winston Reid, he won the aerial challenges and defended well (even if he nearly conceded a penalty).
Absolutely magnificent. He won everything aerially against a tough opponent in Grant Holt and was defensively solid throughout the game.
Typical Noble performance. He worked really hard, always battling in the midfield and giving his all for the team. He was always looking for the ball and trying to start attacks. Interesting fact: of every single player in the Premier League yesterday, Noble covered the most distance.
Just immense. He worked so hard in midfield, played some lovely balls and his energy levels are amazing - he doesnít stop running. He also has such great feet and defenders really donít know what to do when heís running at them.
I didnít really notice Nolan a lot, he wasnít bossing the midfield and to me it looked like he just wanted to play up front for most of the game as he seemed to be closer to Cole/Maiga than the midfield.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Really didnít look good today. Appeared afraid to take on his defender and his final ball was woeful. He just didnít have a good game.
Very quiet throughout the game. He tried to set Cole off a couple of times but the passes were short. Couldíve scored early doors but missed the target from fairly close range.
He never really got into the game and it looked as if he came off injured. Not enough good service to him but he was fairly quiet either way.
(Replaced Cole, 57)
Worked hard when he came on but like Cole didnít get a lot of service or support - but heís still new to the English game and you feel he'll be a good investment given time.
(Replaced Taylor, 57)
Came on and looked sharp - and his crosses very dangerous! Still a lot to live up to given the price we paid for him.
(Replaced Vaz Te, 86)
Only got a few minutes but produced a nice piece of skill and looked to give us some flair and creativity, which is much needed.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Chris Foy.
Man of the Match: Momo Diame.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Joey O Brien, James Collins, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Momo Diame, Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te, Matt Taylor, Carlton Cole.
Goals: None .
Booked: James Collins 41 .
Sent off: None.
John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Leon Barnett, Sebastien Bassong, Javier Garrido, Robert Snodgrass, Jonathan Howson, Bradley Johnson, Andrew Surman, Grant Holt, Simeon Jackson.
Substitutes: Steve Morison (Simeon Jackson 63), Harry Kane (Grant Holt 71).
Subs not used: Declan Rudd, Michael Turner, Wesley Hoolahan, David Fox, Marc Tierney .
Sent Off: None.