Friday, February 19, 2010
After a much needed home win against Birmingham, West Ham start again this weekend with another "winnable" match against Hull City. In fact, it's more than just a "winnable" match, Saturday's encounter with Hull is really a must-win crucial match for West Ham. Considering that it's a trip to Old Trafford after this, successive wins will instill a whole lot of confidence among the players.
Hull's decent run of form dipped against Blackburn recently and have won only once in their last 12 matches. Further to this, the Tigers have not won in 18 away matches. West Ham must be motivated and hungry enough to ensure that this wretched run of theirs will continue. Form guide suggests that there is little to separate these two teams, each having picked up six points from their last six matches. Hence, West Ham having home advantage should give them the edge in this basement battle.
This is how I see the players matching up:
West Ham goalkeeping vs. Hull City goalkeeping
In World Cup year, Rob Green have hardly instilled confidence between the sticks for West Ham. Nervous in corners, he has not been commanding his penalty area this season. Since the turn of the year though, his performances have improved markedly, and three of his six clean sheets have come in the last two months. He has made 88 saves over the season including one penalty. England's no. 1 goalkeeper will need to make sure that he does not allow the bigger and stronger Hull strikers get the better of him.
Boaz Myhill is expected to be marginally the busier goalkeeper, given the talent of the Hammers attack. He has made 94 saves so far this season in 20 starts.
West Ham defence vs. Hull City strikers
James Tomkins and Matthew Upson have taken half of a season to gel and build that much needed understanding. This central defensive partnership is looking now very formidable and well capable to fend off Amr Zaki, Jozy Altidore and Jan Vennegor of Hesselink. Herita Illunga's injury will mean that Jonathan Spector will be asked in to fill in again on his weaker side. The fullback area still remain the achilles heel of West Ham and Stephen Hunt is wily enough to exploit any space behind the fullbacks.
Though in relegation trouble, West Ham have let in the least goals (40) among the bottom nine clubs. It is goal difference that has allowed the Hammers to stay out of the drop zone and the defence must take half the credit for that. At times, West Ham's performance on the pitch is let down by schoolboys' errors, and this must not be repeated in this encounter.
West Ham midfield vs. Hull City midfield
Scott Parker has been the shining light and positive driving force for the Hammers this season. With traits of Paulo Di Canio, Alessandro Diamanti remains the most creative outlet for West Ham. The indefatigable Valon Behrami has impressed Manchester City and clubs from the continent with his superhuman workrate. These players have toiled blood and sweat for Zola and the team. There is no shortage of skill, industry, graft and enthusiasm in the West Ham midfield. The same cannot be said of Hull, unless Jimmy Bullard is rushed back into action. Bullard was the difference when we met in November, let's hope we will not see him in this match.
The West Ham midfield is a class above Hull.
West Ham strikers vs. Hull City defence
Carlton Cole finally got off the mark against Birmingham. It was his first goal since returning from injury. With Mido, Ilan and Franco as well, West Ham have superior firepower to make the Hull net bulge. I think the old Cole-Franco partnership could flourish again against a Hull defence that is the most porous in the Premier League. The Hammers attack is the best among the relegation threatened team, having scored 32 goals which as many as 7th placed Aston Villa. A Hull defence of Gardner, Mouyokolo, Dawson and McShane should not prove too difficult for West Ham's strikers to breach.
It's finding a way past Hull goalie, Boaz Myhill that will swing the match in favour of the home side. The imposing custodian has the potential to thwart anything that West Ham will throw at Hull.
My Saturday will be all about Claret and Blue thoughts, a weekend that will end in triumphant fashion I believe as West Ham have too much quality and ability to lose at home to Hull.
Come On You Irons!
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