Thursday, October 22, 2009

Premiership Preview: West Ham Need Anti-Football To Win Against Arsenal

It's been seven matches since West Ham last tasted the joy of victory. Struggling from defensive lapses, visibly lacking goalscoring power and down on luck, West Ham faces a difficult London derby against "le magnifique" Arsenal. To hope for victory would be bordering on impossible but there is reason to be bullish.

West Ham's performance in the last seven matches have not exactly been bad. In fact, the Hammers outpassed and outplayed Stoke last weekend and were undone by mistakes at the back.

I am sure that Zola and Clarke would have worked on that all week and defensively, West Ham is focused on the tough task of keeping Fabregas, Rosicky, Van Persie and Arshavin at bay. I am yet to be convinced by Julien Faubert at rightback and so for me, a natural rightback like Jonathan Spector should start. Even then, Spector's defensive capabilities will be really tested by Arshavin's cunning and trickery.

To compete with Arsenal, Scott Parker's contribution will be crucial yet again. Breaking up the slick Arsenal passing is a must and that must occupy the thoughts of Noble, Collison and Parker throughout the match. I truly believe squeezing and stifling the Arsenal midfield is the key to a West Ham victory. The Arsenal defence do leak goals so the creativity of Diamanti or Jiminez and the pace of Stanislas can produce chances against the Gunners.

Guillermo Franco finally had his first taste of Premiership action coming on, about 5 mins worth at the Brittania Stadium. Now that Mexico has qualified for the World Cup finals in South Africa, I would expect more game time for Guille Franco. Carlton Cole need a capable partner in attack and Franco, on paper should be able to provide that much needed experience and composure in front of goal.

Guillermo Franco in action for Mexico - Will he feature this weekend?

The Flat Back Four's favoured West Ham lineup (4-4-2):
--------------------------------- Green

Spector --------------- Tomkins ------ Upson ------------ Ilunga

---------------------------- Parker

----------------------------------------------- Collison

Diamanti -------------- ----------- ---- ------------------- Stanislas

------------------------ Cole ------ Franco

But will Franco play? Or will Zola persist with the 4-3-3 formation and hope the likes of Diamanti, Jiminez, Collison and Behrami will provide the support and outlet for Cole's excellent hold-up play?

All I know is that to beat Arsenal, West Ham need to stop the Gunner's fluent passing game, making sure that the tackles are hard and forceful. Zola and Clarke will need to forego their beautiful football mentality and adopt a more anti-football approach this Sunday. I am sure the fans wont mind one bit since winning is everything, isn't it?

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