13 March 2015

Hammer-time: how to drop the Hammer and other idioms...

The week began with a triumphant trip to Old Trafford, which is not to say that it will conclude with a similar result at the Emirates. Fresh off of our first win at Old Trafford since 2006 might suggest that we’re in fine form, but it also could mean that we’re ripe for an emotional letdown. Once upon a time, West Ham looked to challenge for a top-four finish—but have plummeted to tenth.  Winless in their last seven matches, it would be all to easy to overlook them as we look ahead to AS Monaco on Tuesday.

Big Sam’s men got off to a great start, but to say that the wheels have come off recently might be a bit of an understatement. Whether it’s down to fatigue, injuries, overachieving, or other clubs actually taking them seriously, among other issues, the Irons have regressed to means and may have to worry more about staying out of relegation than about loftier aspirations. A visit to the Emirates to face in-form Arsenal hardly looks like the tonic they seek for frayed nerves. Making matters worse, injuries seem to be piling up. As it currently stands, they’ll be without Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole, and look like they’ll also be without Emer Valencia and Winston Reid. The first three comprise the heart of West Ham’s attack, but we’d do well to beware the threat posed by Diafro Sakho, who has singed Man City, Man U, and Tottenham while leading West Ham with nine goals scored. Last but not least, of course, Carl Jenkinson can’t face us, of course.

All of this leaves Allardyce a bit short on options as he tries to piece together a lineup. Of particular interest to us might be his selection for right-back. He may have to go with 33-year-old Guy Demel, who’s made just three starts all season. He’s a big, burly player, but he may struggle against the pace and work-rate of players like Alexis or Welbeck. If Winston Reid can’t find his fitness in time for Saturday, we might see even more discombulation to exploit. Further afield, we’ll likely come up against Allardyce’s favored 4-3-1-2 formation, with Stewart Downing trying to pull the strings and former Gunner Alex Song shielding the back four.

As for us, a few fresh injury-knocks can’t take the afterglow off of our FA Cup win—but continuing the momentum will be crucial. This has all the hallmarks of a banana-peel kind of match, sandwiched as it is between two higher-profile matches (sorry to have mixed the metaphors back there). We can’t afford to squander the energy we all no doubt still feel. Despite their recent struggles, West Ham are still capable of giving us more than we’d bargained for.

  • West Ham 1-2 Arsenal (28.12.2014)
  • Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (15.04.2014)
  • West Ham 1-3 Arsenal (26.12.2013)
  • The two clubs first met on 27 August 1923, a 1-0 win for West Ham.
  • West Ham have suffered four red cards in their last six matches.
  • Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their five matches against West Ham.
  • Gabriel and Oxlade-Chamberlain join a list that already includes Diaby, Debuchy, Flamini, Arteta, and Wilshere. Rosický is apparently ill but available.
We simply have to take it to West Ham early and often , and they seem to lack the manpower or motivation to hold us off.

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