Saturday, 18th November 2006
Great f*cking thinking. A major Christmas shopping weekend in the West End and 40 odd thousand fans converging on Scumford Bridge and the tw*ts decide to shut down the District Line. What is even more amazing is that someone managed to convince the International Olympic Committee that all will be well with London’s transport system by 2012. Either the IOC is dumber than I thought or some very special sexual favours were dished out in London hotel rooms on their assessment trips.
Fortunately I had set the DVD recorder for the coverage from my Egyptian friends at ART, so I was able to catch the bits I missed later on. Incidentally, in case you didn’t catch the news in the week, ART has lost the rights for next season and they’ve been given to some outfit in Dubai called Showtime. For f*ck’s sake don’t waste your money on a 12 month ART card. Apparently I am going to have to look at a 2m dish to replace my rather modest 80 cm one to reach the deserts of the Gulf. The next door neighbours will love that.
Alan Pardew decided that a variation of the set up that beat Arsenal should be tried for this one. This put Mullins, Bowyer and Reo Coker prowling around in the middle of the park with Tevez out right and Matty out left. Zamora was the centre forward. Green was in goal with a back four of Konch, Gabbidon, Anton and Spector. This looked like an interchangeable 4-5-1/4-3-3.
Two minutes in and the first real attack came from Chelsea via Robben down the left. His cross in led to two consecutive corners but Terry was adjudged to have fouled Anton challenging for a header.
Tevez was looking supercharged and shot forward on four minutes, but his cross in from the edge of the box was blocked.
Good counter-attacking play on 6 minutes saw Etherington break free down the left. A deep cross came over which Zamora managed to retrieve. The ball was passed by Tevez to Bowyer who hit a shot on the turn but this went way over the bar.
Excellent build up work on nine minutes saw Bowyer find some real space in the box, but he pass back across goal was far to near to Cudicini who gathered easily. Much of the promising play was coming down the left and we won a corner on 11 minutes. Spector tried a late run in to meet the corner, but he headed over from the edge of the box.
Irons never forget
“You fat b*stard” greeted Lumpalard on 14 minutes as he took a corner down the West Ham left. Terry was waiting in the middle and got a pretty free head at the ball which went just wide of Green’s right hand post. Two minutes later Chelsea won a free kick about 25 yards out but Bowyer
Lumpalard got booked on 17 minutes after a clash with Spector. It was a foul but hardly a yellow, but it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. The ball that was sent in from the free kick led to some uncertainty between Terry and Cudicini.
The overpriced Ukrainian found some space on the edge of the West Ham box on 19 minutes but he fired in a shot against the flab of Lumpalard and the ball spun behind for a goal kick.
The surprise package
Gabbidon decided to take out Drogba just outside the D following a lay off by Shevchenko on 20 minutes. Drogba, Lampard and Shevchenko looked ready to take it, but we looked totally surprised when Geremi ran up and hit an absolutely inch perfect free kick into the top left hand corner. It was a training ground move and unfortunately it was brilliantly executed.
The game slowed down after the goal and it was not until the 31st minute that there was a move of note after Drogba found some space just outside the box and curled a shot in which Green held comfortably in his midriff.
We were battling hard and on 34 minutes Reo Coker ran loose with the ball after a series of crunching 50/50 tackles. His shot was very poor and sliced away towards the corner flag.
Robben won a free kick down the West Ham left on 36 minutes after Mullins caught him with a late tackle but the ball in was comfortably taken by Rob Green.
Chelsea’s back four looked far from calm with balls coming in from the left and Cole had to head behind with his keeper nowhere in sight. Unfortunately nothing came from the corner.
It looked like we had gone 0-2 down on 41 minutes as Gabbidon struggled to deal with Drogba from a long throw in. The ball fell loose to Robben just on the edge of the 6 yard box and his stabbed shot went just wide of the far right hand post.
He’s here, he’s there, he’s everyf*ckingwhere
Just after this incident Reo Coker and Drogba clashed and the ref had a word.
The best route was once again the left hand side on 43 minutes as Konch sent over a good cross which Bowyer managed to flick on to find Reo Coker. Ashley Cole was alert to the threat and made a fine tackle to block the goal-bound shot. The corner saw Cudicini in no man’s land again and Drogba had to clear.
With a minute left, Drogba and Reo-Coker had another dig at each other leading to another warning from the ref. “Where’s John Moncur when you need him?” said ESM Jnr.
Probably the best West Ham chance of the half came two minutes into added time as Tevez showed great persistence down the right hand side to win a ball and lay it back across the goal. Etherington was waiting centrally outside the box, teed up the pass that came out and shot about two yards wide of the left hand post. He should have at least troubled the ‘keeper as he was not under any challenge.
Down but far from out
The real difference between the two teams in the first half was the set piece play, but with a bit more luck we would have gone into the interval level. The industry of Tevez was promising, although you really wanted to see him getting into the box a bit more. The defence had been pretty solid as well. A few weeks previously we may have been destroyed after quarter of an hour, but we looked pretty solid in all departments and Chelsea seemed vulnerable down our left with Matty and Konch beginning to look a bit like the way they worked together last season.
One area where we were well in front was in the crowd. It’s hard to believe what a soporific place Scumford Bridge is these days. To think you used to go down there on a London derby day and have a real cacophonous exchange with the home fans. No longer. There’s more atmosphere on the Moon. The travelling Irons kept the songs going throughout with the occasional shhhhhhhhhhhhh to allow the silent West London ranks to have a go. There was no response.
The half time ‘entertainment’ underlined what a joke it is down there with some jerk on a microphone having to cajole the crowd into a response to some no mark ex Chelsea player that was paraded around. The loudest chant came from the Shed end - “Who the f*cking hell are you?”
Boulahrouz came on for Carvalho at half time.
A mistake on 51 minutes by Gabbidon almost gifted a goal as he made a very unconvincing pass out of defence which went straight to Shevchenko. He laid it off to Lumpalard who fired just over from the edge of the box. It was fortunate that the salad dodger made such an average shot in a good position.
Tevez tried to weave a way through two Chelsea players on 54 minutes and did well to put in a pass into the box but Z-man couldn’t control the ball. Then we got opened up down our right with Cole pressurising Spector. Essien got hold of a bouncing ball and passed it straight along the six yard line. No-one was waiting but the ball was collected by Lumpalard on the edge of the box and Bowyer did well to fling himself at the shot to block it.
Green made a flaky punch on 59 minutes as a cross came in from the West Ham right. Essien latched on to the ball, but ended up skewing it wide. Then Anton did very well to see a slanted pass into Shevchenko and he beat the rather sluggish looking £30 million waste of money to it.
On the hour Matty foxed Geremi who slipped over. A dangerous low cross was driven into the near post and Lumpalard had to clear behind. From the corner we probed around the box trying to find a way through but the move broke down when Konch ballooned a cross into the air.
Boulahrouz gave the ball away badly to Mullins just outside the box on 63 minutes and he looped a pass over to Zamora who had few options. He tried a shot but this went poorly wide of the mark.
A free kick awarded against Essien 40 yards out after he barged Reo Coker gave us some hope of a chance on 66 minutes, but the Chelsea defence was looking impenetrable. Bowyer tried a snap shot, but this was sliced about five yards wide.
Reo Coker got booked on 67 minutes for what appeared to be a swipe at Shevchenko about a minute earlier when a Chelsea break was on. The Ukrainian was taken off for Joe Cole, the £6.5 million gift from Terry Brown three seasons earlier.
Mullins came blundering into the back of Essien on 70 minutes and got a yellow card for stopping what might have been a dangerous Chelsea counter attack. Then the change came with Z-man making way for Marlon. Tevez was sent into the middle as a supporting striker in a 4-4-2 formation with Bowyer taking up position on the right.
The change in formation was almost immediately exploited by Essien as we looked a bit open in midfield. He took a pass 30 yards out and had the time to measure a shot which beat Green and struck the outside of the left hand upright.
Tevez then got booked on 73 minutes as he wrestled Essien to the ground in the centre circle.
Terry came piling in to meet a corner on 75 minutes as Anton stood leaden footed. For some reason he wasted the free header by directing it into the ground and over the bar.
Spector made a nice cross field pass to Matty on 76 minutes and he in turn fed a sideways pass to Tevez. He teased Makele by putting his foot on the ball and jiggling it around, but then tamely sliced it into the Shed end. These were the areas where the Italian master Di Canio used to excel, confusing defenders with sublime trickery. The Argentinean would do well to get the maestro over for some tips.
Matty was still trying and a run forward on 77 minutes looked promising but fizzled out after an overhit chip through by Reo-Coker.
Spector blocked out Robben again on 79 minutes to mark an accomplished performance. Then Makele broke free in the box and tried to lay off a pass which Gabbidon read well.
With ten minutes left, Pardew tried a last roll of the dice with a double substitution. Off came Matty and Bowyer and McCartney and Teddy were introduced.
Spector made a slip on 82 minutes, allowing Robben to beak into the box, but Drogba couldn’t turn the ball goalwards. Mikel came on for the Dutch winger immediately afterwards.
The otherwise cadaver-like Chelsea fans were brought back from the dead on 84 minutes after they thought Drogba had scored but he was ruled offside as the ball was laid off to him on the left hand side of the box. We were crying our eyes out about that one.
McCartney was set free in space down the left on 85 minutes as Tevez made a pretty reverse pass. His cross was good and was headed backwards to the waiting Sheringham who couldn’t do anything with the ball.
The one real last chance came at the death when Anton was pushed up into the box to try and make something happen. He rose well to cushion a header back, but no-one was on hand to pick up the loose ball and score a goal which would have launched us all into a total frenzy.
The game ended with Lumpalard engaging in a poorly concealed taunt of the travelling fans, taking off his shirt and waving his fist at the Shed end. So he’d taken a bit of abuse during the game, but he really needs to get a life. He'd hardly pulled any f*cking trees up as well. It was incitement and as a result it looked like it was on the brink of kicking off outside as we left to try and navigate a way home via our busted public transport system.
No-one likes losing to that mob, but I left that ground content that we had given it a good shot. They had created few chances and our defence had coped pretty well with a very expensive attacking set up. It had taken a set piece to undo us, and one which was so well delivered that no keeper could have stopped it.
No end product
We did open them up a few times, but the disappointment was that after getting into some decent positions, there was little end product. The quality of the final ball was lacking, with Konch looking like the biggest culprit. We lived with ‘em for large parts, but had no shot on target.
On this evidence, Tevez is beginning to look like he might be settling in. He certainly looked up for it, but if you can’t be up for that game, then there must be something very wrong. I am inclined to start him against the Blades next week, which already has the quality of a ‘must win’ game. It’s no good living with the Premiership Champions if you can’t go on and beat a team that surely must be down the bottom at the end of the season. Let’s see if the attitude and team spirit of today can come out again next weekend. We need three points badly after two consecutive 0-1 defeats.
(Player ratings by Graeme Howlett)
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Surprisingly rarely called into action although he won't be happy with his positioning for the free-kick.
Had a fairly decent games against one of the world's trickiest wingers. Rarely had the opportunity to burst forward.
Defended solidly although made little impact when pushed up late on in the game.
A couple of lapses in concentration could have proved costly but for Chelsea's profligacy in front of goal.
Another solid performace, last year's POTY is rapidly finding his form.
Worked extremely hard and made his fair share of tackles.
Ran into a number of blind alleys when in possession and provided little in the final third of the field.
Struggled to get into the game, although against one of the best midfields in the world; nothing to be ashamed of.
Ethers worked hard on the flank although all too often the final delivery was sub-standard.
He's played on the left, today he was on the right - not bad for someone who apparently thrives on playing down the middle. Worked very hard for little gain.
Absolutely worked his socks off - but didn't manage a single shot on goal.
(Replaced Zamora, 71) Never really at the races after coming on with 20 to play.
(Replaced Bowyer, 81) Anonymous, barely had a touch.
(Replaced Etherington, 81) Made a few late bursts down the flank but again the delivery was poor.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Danny Gabbidon.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Jonathan Spector, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora.
Booked: Danny Gabbidon 21 Nigel Reo-Coker 68 Hayden Mullins 71 Carlos Tevez 74 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Cudicini, Geremi, Carvalho, Terry, Cole, Makelele, Essien, Lampard, Robben, Drogba, Shevchenko..
Substitutes: Boulahrouz (Carvalho 45), Cole (Shevchenko 69), Mikkel (Robben 84)..
Subs not used: Hilario, Wright-Phillips..
Goals: Geremi (22)..
Booked: Lampard (18)..
Sent Off: None sent off..