Sunday, February 9

Clucking Kevin sees off Villa

Aston Villa 0 West Ham 2

I’m watching The Invisible Woman, a film about Charles Dickens’ affair with the actress Ellen Ternan, as my silenced phone starts to vibrate with incoming texts. Is it Hard Times after A Christmas Carroll or Great Expectations? Have to wait till the end of the film to discover it’s the latter as West Ham (Grad)grind out a result.

It’s another double from Kevin Nolan and we’ve won two in a row for the first time this season. The Match of the Day evidence shows West Ham missing a couple of good chances in the first half as Downing misses the ball from Jarvis’s cross and then Jarvis bursts through only to shoot wide under heavy pressure from Baker. In response Villa go close with a Lowton volley wide.

Borriello comes on for the second half and according to the press accounts does well. WHU instantly take the lead after the break. Downing turns Bertrand one way then another and crosses for Nolan to produce a great improvised backheeled finish. Kevin goes off clucking to the away fans. A minute later he does it again. The West Ham skipper shows more desire than Delph to win a tackle on the edge of the box and calmly pass the ball into the corner. A piece of pickpocketing worthy of Oliver Twist.

I was all for dropping Nolan and taking the captaincy away from him after the Fulham game, but if he keeps this up he’s going to pay the fans back for those silly sendings off. Andy who?

West Ham have some luck when sub Allbrighton clatters the post and the ball rebounds off Adrian’s heel to safety. Benteke hits the angle with a looping header but our defence holds out to keep another clean sheet. And believe it or not we now have 12 clean sheets, more than any other team in the division. Not even a black coffee stain on James Tomkins’ duvet, a speck of dust on Adrian’s pillow, or a drop of Peri-Peri sauce on Big Sam's black satin sheets.

It would be very like West Ham to now lose at home to Norwich after this, but we’ve put ourselves in a great position. A third win in a row and we’ll definitely be looking towards mid-table.

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