Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just Like Last Season - Deja vu For The Hammers

In West Ham's second game of the new 2010/2011 season, there is a feeling that they will struggle again. Whatever that Avram Grant have managed to instill into the team, it still looks like deja vu all over again for the Hammers. Just like last season, West Ham plays well in the first half and then capitulate in the second. I remember vividly how at one stage last season the Irons were in 8th league placing based on first half performance only. The same situation seemed to be recurring and is not improving.

Beaten again by bogey team, Bolton once more at home, this defeat makes it three losses in a row against the Trotters at Upton Park. Some may say that Bolton got lucky and that West Ham were all over them in the first half. Although it is true that Grant's players were great in the first half, the developing pattern is frighteningly familiar. I fear the phrase "West Ham turning the corner very soon" will once more be a well-used statement to describe how good the boys are playing but that "corner" will remain, like last year, elusive.


West Ham were brilliant in the first half, denied only by an excellent Jussi Jaaskalainen. And to think that this 35-year old keeper was snapped up by Bolton for only £100,000! The Finnish keeper is turning out to be an immense legend for Bolton Wanderers. He made seven saves against West Ham, the pick of which was denying Kieron Dyer when put through by Parker.

Mexican Pablo Barrera lit up Upton Park with an extremely competent display. He looks a genuine article and it has been a long long time since the West Ham faithful have seen a more polished performance out on the right flank. "Dynamite" Barrera was a constant creative threat against Bolton, showing all that he could run with the ball and provide accurate and dangerous crosses. Diamanti (assuming he is staying) on the left could generate the same kind of excitement. If nothing else, at least the Irons will have a specialist penalty taker on the pitch.

Stuart Holden, for me, was the standout player in the Bolton team. Fully recovered from his broken leg, he showed excellent mobility, passing, vision and anticipation. Stu was clearly missed by Bradley's Team USA at the World Cup 2010. In contrast, Noble and Parker played much too deep for my liking, it will be interesting to note which player will be dropped once Hitzlsperger is ready to start.

In the end, Avram Grant got the right performance from his team but not the result. With Manchester United and Chelsea to come in the next two games, it will need a ten out of ten performance from ALL eleven players to get anything against the Red Devils and the Blues. The positive point is that Wigan is leaking more goals than the Irons, but though it's early days, the relegation battle is shaping up already...worryingly.



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