Thankfully I miss the first twenty minutes of the game before making it to the Bank of Friendship. Weimann has already blown the chance of the season, shooting wide after Jussi parries the ball straight to him. The first half is terrible, poor passing, scrappy play and one low cross from Demel that is well intercepted by Clark is about all that happens. Matt texts “We just can’t pass the ball. Carroll poor so far. Hard to see how we can score. This is so bad I suspect they will switch to the rugby here.”
Allardyce’s formation is very negative, with Carroll labouring alone up front, three centre backs in Reid, Tomkins and Pogatetz and no Jarvis or Vaz Te selected. Wouldn’t it be nice just for once to attack a team that is in the bottom three, low on confidence and can’t keep leads?
West Ham start the second half with greater momentum and force a series of corners. Joe Cole plays in some decent crosses and Carroll has one cleared off the line by Bent. Though generally we make Villa’s centre backs appear superhuman in the air. Allardyce decides to bring on a flair player in Vaz Te far too late after 67 minutes. And why no £9 million Matt Jarvis?
The game turns on a clumsy challenge in the box by Noble on N’Zogbia after 74 minutes. Benteke coolly slots home the inevitable penalty. Four minutes later Tomkins gives a free kick away on the edge of the box and N’Zogbia, who hasn’t scored all season, curls a brilliant effort over the wall and into the net. Another player whose season we’ve kick-started.
We go for it — too late — after that. Vaz Te has a header and shot wide and a series of high balls drift into the box. Carlton Cole comes on for Noble, but you somehow know that Vila will never blow another two-goal lead against us. Joe Cole curls in a good ball that Westwood backheads into his own net to give the Hammers some hope.
At the end of the four minutes of added time Guzan has to make good saves from Nolan and Carlton Cole, but it’s too little too late.
Five away defeats in a row isn’t good enough, 4-5-1 isn’t working and nor is the plan of playing for a draw against clubs in the bottom three. The football’s pretty terrible to watch too. The only good news is that I’ve made one pint of London Pride last all game, reducing the cost of this lunchtime torment. We desperately need to improve against Tottenham.