Friday, January 2

Hampered Hammers drop New Year points

West Ham 1 West Brom 1

The day begins with “West Scam United” emblazoned on the front page of the Sun. Apparently a representative of Daley & McCann Festive Gifts Plc arrived at Chadwell Heath offering cheap Fortnum & Mason hampers. The lads duly parted with their cash and the iffy hampers never turned up. Meanwhile Big Sam’s told the press that moaning Mauro Zarate wasn’t good enough to make the team more often and that his dropping of Kevin Nolan is evidence of his ‘clinical’ team selection.

Inside Ken’s Café Fraser has made a rare appearance and Nigel has been at the quiz books, asking Michael, Lisa, Matt and myself to name the 12 capital cities in the world with only four letters. We get Lima, Oslo, Doha and a few others before losing the will to live.

West Ham make a bright start to the game, going ahead with a fine ball. Downing chips a good ball through to Amalfitano who does well to find Cresswell on the left. He puts in a good cross and Sakho beats two defenders to glance home. “Diafra Sakho he scores when he wants!” chants the Bobby Moore Stand.

Downing makes another good break down the left but elects to shoot rather than find Sakho and we wonder if this might be costly against a Pulis-inspired Albion. Sessegnon looks dangerous whenever he breaks and slowly WBA edge back into it. We receive a warning when Adrian makes a great save from a Baird volley. Kouyate is having a bit of a ’mare, and Song is off form too, as they fail to shield our defence. Then West Ham commit too many men forward and it’s a two versus two break from Albion. Berahino finds Sessegnon on the left and runs into the middle to get behind Reid and covert with a calm finish.

WHU look really jaded in the second half as Malumbo hits the side netting. Cresswell miscontrols it a couple of times on the flank and Jenkinson’s crosses aren’t finding their man. Three games in a week looks too much for Andy Carroll who has his least effective game since his latest comeback and is easily marshalled by the impressive Lescott.

West Ham’s best chance comes when Sakho is brought down and Cresswell thumps a fine free kick against Foster’s post. There’s also a scramble around the line as Sakho nearly puts it in only to get kicked in the back and leave the field injured. Sub Matt Jarvis makes a difference and does well to beat his men and get in a couple of dangerous crosses, only to play the ball just behind the strikers. It’s a mystery why Big Sam doesn’t bring Noble on to improve the midfield.

But it’s generally poor fare and Albion continue to impress on the break as Collins makes several late interventions. In the end a draw looks a fair result. Teenage Kicks comes on the PA, but there haven’t been many kicks today, teenage or otherwise.

We retreat to the Central, with a guest appearance from The Gav and Michael waiting for his mate Godot, who mysteriously fails to show. Matt rages at the PA for playing Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel who are bloody useless. Quite right, apart from changing the face of 1960s popular music and Paul Simon’s 12 Grammys over a 40-year career what have Simon and Garfunkel ever done for popular music? Nigel quips that Matt thinks the Beatles are overrated too. Rather than discuss the game we then return to trying to name those four letter capital cities.

Being charitable, at least we got something out of the game against a desperate side trying hard to impress Mr Pulis. But that’s one point out of nine now. Sakho, Kouyate and possibly Song might be going to Africa so we need to regroup quickly to aim for that top six finish. Though at least we're unbeaten this year.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Jenkinson 5, Collins 6, Reid 5 Cresswell 6; Amalfitano 5 (Jarvis 6), Kouyate 5, Song 5, Downing 5; Carroll 5 (Cole n/a), Sakho 6, (Valencia 5).

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