Friday, December 25, 2009

Franco Injury Leaves Beating Portsmouth a Herculean Task

News have filtered through that Guillermo Franco was hurt in a freak training ground injury. This leaves West Ham and Gianfranco Zola short of striking options. So far goals have been hard to come by since the loss of Carlton Cole and now with Franco also out for two games, the situation is now extremely dire for the Hammers.

This makes the must-win match against Portsmouth an extremely hard proposition. So what should Zola and Clarke do to prepare and put a team out to face a determined and fired-up Portsmouth? Carlton Cole, Zavon Hines and Kieron Dyer are all on the injury list and thus there are no recognised strikers apart from youth teamers, Frank Nouble, Terry Dixon and Freddie Sears.

Looking through the player roster, one option is to play Alessandro Diamanti up front with Luis Jimenez as the second striker. With Junior Stanislas playing in the left midfield position vacated by Diamanti, there is every possibility that West Ham can get something out of this crunch match.

Alternatively, if Luis Jimenez is deemed too "soft" to face up to Tal Ben-Haim and Marc Wilson, then perhaps Zola can consider Jack Collison up front. The Welsh lad has notched two goals and three assists in 14 games this season. On evidence of his performance against Chelsea, he is regaining his form and confidence. With Diamanti feeding the balls through, this could be a winning combination. Julien Faubert, despite his inability to deliver crosses, can do the hard work on the right side of midfield.

Because the Hammers need to win this match, I would abandon the safety first tactic (we ARE playing at home!). Zola should drop the defensive-minded Kovac and play a more attacking midfield of Parker, Noble, Stanislas and Faubert.

Here are my two suggested possible lineups.

The Flat Back Four's Alternative #1 lineup (4-4-1-1):
--------------------------------- Green

Faubert --------------- Tomkins ------ Upson ------------ Ilunga

---------------- Parker--------------------------- Kovac

Collison -------------- ----------- ---- ------------------- Noble

------------------------ Jimenez

-------------------------- ------ Diamanti

The Flat Back Four's Alternative #2 lineup (4-1-3-1-1):
--------------------------------- Green

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

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

Faubert -------------- Noble ---- ------------------- Stanislas

------------------------ Diamanti

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

Heck, if Arsenal can win playing without an out-and-out striker, then so can West Ham! Though Zola and Clarke have to contend with a crippling injury list, if the Hammers play with passion, determination and an attacking mentality, we can get three points from this game.

Come on you Irons!

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