Tuesday, December 22

Stick your blue flag…

West Ham 1 Chelsea 1

“What hope is there?” ask Jo, Nigel and Gavin as we sit in Ken’s café. Lose and we’re bottom at Christmas.

The News of the World says that players are commenting on Zola’s “hangdog demeanour”. And a formers "Hammers ace" has described Diamanti and Franco as "five-a-side players, the sort that get you relegated". While elsewhere in the NOTW someone called Paul Ince writes, “I fear for my Hammers”. Nigel has a premonition of life in the Championship reading out the future score: “Preston 3 West Ham 1.”

All the hope we can muster is that we have nothing to lose and at least John Terry is on the front page of the NOTW in a sting about dodgy club tours, following up their story on his dad’s iffy dealings.

In the East Stand Fraser’s wearing his lucky flat cap. “We go 16th if we win,” he says perkily. “You’ve calculated where we are if we win?” asks an incredulous Nigel. Joe Cole gets a mixed reception, Lampard the usual boos.

We start off looking up for it. Upson is back bringing some much-needed composure to our defence and the work rate of Noble is making a difference in midfield. Green makes a good save from Lampard’s shot. We survive a penalty appeal when the ball hits Gabbidon’s hand and Parker chests it off the line from Ivanovic’s header. But we are denying them width and Collison has a shot parried only for Franco to be ruled offside.

Gabbiddon goes off injured after 21 minutes —after mystic Morris has said we never thought he’d be back — and on comes James Tomkins. He fits into the back four with some aplomb.

“John Terry, you’re mum’s a thief!” chants the Bobby Moore Stand with seasonal ill will. And then something unprintable about Simon Cowell and a certain player's wife.

It’s fairly even for 45 minutes. In added time Franco plays a nice little ball through to Collison, who is bought down by Ashley Cole. Penalty! Allesandro Diamanti shows he clearly has the big-game mentality by coolly slotting it home.

We’re worried they’ll be angry second half and Ancelotti makes two substitutions. Drogba goes close with a stunning Van Basten-like volley from near the corner flag.

Then Upson tackles Sturridge and from the East Stand we can clearly see he makes contact with the ball. It’s a great tackle but the linesman is jumping up and down like Chris Hollins on the Strictly Come Dancing judges’ table, and it’s a sodding penalty.

“We’ve been f**king robbed… fu**king robbed!” exclaims the political analyst beside me, clearly unaware we’re sitting close to a vicar’s son.

Lampard steps up to score. But no, ref Mike Dean wants it re taken for encroachment! Does he now realise he made an error? This is the chance for Rob Green to make up for that calamity at Bolton. But Lampard scores again. Only the ref wants it retaken a third time. This is getting farcical. Big Fat Frank shows what a god penalty taker he is by scoring again.

But even a point is a good result against top of the league Chelsea. We could wilt, but the lads certainly seem to be playing for Zola today. Diamanti has a shot palmed away by Cech, and from the melee Noble chips up and over. The Italian then produces a fantastic bit of Di Canio-esque skill in the box only to be robbed by a last ditch Terry intervention.

Franco is assaulted by Carvalho from our corner, but the ref says play on. Scott Parker is everywhere and going on rampaging runs. Faubert is playing well going forward and Illunga is looking better too. Even Kovac has a much better final 20 minutes. If we play like this we’ll stay up, no problem.

I’m still imagining a 97th minute winner for Chelsea though, but thankfully there’s only three minutes of stoppage time. We win two corners but still manage to concede a free kick right at the end, only for Chelsea to waste it. A point! Stick your blue flag up your arse!

This just might give us renewed hope. And Father Christmas, if you come down my chimney, any chance of putting in a bid from your Lapland consortium?


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matt said...

After the Spurs debacle I have to say we need a complete overhaul of the medical and physio staff, as suffering 4 hamstring injuries in the first 20 minutes, in the last 3 games would not be tolerated by a pub team. We brought in these much hyped people who were supposed to reduce the number of injuries and they have failed utterly. Pardew's staff had a much better record.Perhaps we could poach the Birmingham staff, as they never seem to get injuries. Other than that, Jiminez is woeful, and Spector nowhere near good enough, and Green gives away far too many goals by parrying shots straight back into the penalty area. And why do our players never shoot? Their second goal came from a corner where we tried to walk it in as ever and failed, but when they broke you knew Defoe would just be looking to get a shot in. We now really are down to the bare bones for Arsenal, and could be heavily beaten, but it is the Wolves game that matters now. Zola needs to show he is a real manager, rather than just go on about how hard his players tried, and refusing to take any responsibility or any decisions.
Just needed to get that off my chest...