Wednesday, February 3

Below-par Hammers see off Villa

West Ham 2 Aston Villa 0

Inside Ken’s Café Lisa is ordering cheesy chips and Billy is shouting, “I can’t get through I’m trapped!” as he tries to return with his plates past a burgeoning queue. Michael the Renaissance Man arrives late and in a triumph of optimism over experience orders a big breakfast thinking he’ll make the kick-off. His Irons constitution manages to cope with some remarkably rapid ingestion before we leg it down the alleyway. As the café empties Carol offers to give Michael special treatment next time and ensure he makes the kick-off, while there’s a rare appearance of Kenneth himself from the back of the kitchen to greet his best customer.

YOU'VE ONLY GOT TEN MEN
Inside the East Stand the big news is Fraser’s opted for the Steptoe and Son look with a rakish neck scarf. West Ham start very slowly and the whole side looks jaded — possibly not surprising after a testing game at Anfield and with Tomkins playing with 13 stitches in a head would and Kouyate still feeling Saturday’s injury — with Villa shading it in the first ten minutes. An optimistic penalty appeal against Antonio is turned down after the ball hits his hand. Villa’s gameplan is ruined when Jordan Ayew stupidly elbows Cresswell in the face after 17 minutes. The crowd in the corner certainly spot it and the ref gives Ayew a straight red. He wasn’t provoked and it’s absolute stupidity. It’s noticeable he didn’t try to do it to Collins or Tomkins.

Nothing much else happens in the first half. Tomkins’ shot is headed over by Valencia and Enner hits a 40-yard free kick just wide and that’s it. Even Payet is anonymous. Playing against ten men who are bottom of the league, what could possibly go wrong? Surely it won’t be like the Hull game two seasons’ ago.

WHEREFORE ART THOU, ANTONIO?
Part-time Nigel turns up in the bowels of the East Stand at half-time complaining about the tube and saying he’s almost glad we’re going to the superior transport hub of Stratford. He hasn’t missed much. Matt is preparing for his night shift by watching the game in the pub and seems to have lost all his positivity, texting “Have our players bet on who can play worst? Think Antonio is winning but it’s very close.”
  
But the Hammers start much more positively in the second half, penning Villa back. Mark Noble produces a tremendous volley straight from a corner only to see it brilliantly saved by Bunn. Payet hits the post with a free kick and Richards makes a great clearance from Collins’ header.

Just as we’re thinking WHU will do everything but score, the breakthrough comes. Mark Noble swings in an inviting cross and Antonio does really well to head the ball into the far corner. Bunn appears to think it’s going wide as he barely moves. Phew. Mystic Matt has worked his magic on Antonio again.

CHEIKH MATE 
We still struggle to get a second, with Cresswell going close and Noble shooting just wide and Payet much more involved. The game drifts as Nigel asks me to tell the bloke from the Treasury in front of us that Carlton Cole scored for Celtic against Stranraer. Meanwhile having to drink soft drinks in the pub is clearly affecting Mystic Matt, who is texting, “Bilic could substitute 8 or 9 of them. Song, Valencia and Kouyate could all be hooked.” He’s done it again. From a Villa corner Valencia breaks and plays a perfect pass through to Kouyate who chips over the keeper to make it 2-0.

The Villa fans unveil a couple of anti-Lerner banners and we join in their chants of “sack the board!” They’ve been pretty noisy for fans of a team that are doomed and deserve better.

After three very late substitutions from Slaven, we head to the Central where Nigel is befriended by two angry cockney Villa fans raging at their defending for Kouyate’s goal. Michael the Whovian has an anecdote about holding a pub door open for Steven Moffat. As Nigel and Michael discuss David Cameron’s problems over an in-out referendum and whether British teams will still be able to play in Europe after Brexit, I’m able to quip, “It only took West Ham six games to get out of Europe this season.”

An important three points. A poor performance in the first half, but we’ve seen off a struggling team with ten men. That’s progress and we remain sixth. And on 39 points I think we’re safe…


PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 5; Tomkins 6, Collins 6, Reid 6, Cresswell 6; Payet 7, Song 6, Kouyate 6 (Obiang n/a), Noble 8, Antonio 7 (Jelavic n/a); Valencia 6 (Moses n/a).

6 comments:

Jacob Waller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacob Waller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacob Waller said...

we won 2-0, very comfortable game, we dominated possession.

Would you rather fat Sam in charge, hoof it up and allow villa to counter attack, or have our players pass it around like a training game, getting three points and saving alot of energy for Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Also, under Sam we would have gone 1-0 and sat back, inviting the ten men of villa to attack.

Maybe Sam was right, West Ham fans like you are deluded.

Jacob Waller said...

we won 2-0, very comfortable game, we dominated possession.

Would you rather fat Sam in charge, hoof it up and allow villa to counter attack, or have our players pass it around like a training game, getting three points and saving alot of energy for Liverpool on Tuesday night.

Also, under Sam we would have gone 1-0 and sat back, inviting the ten men of villa to attack.

Maybe Sam was right, West Ham fans like you are deluded.

Pete May said...

Not sure what you're getting at. We didn't play well in the first half - the team is at the stage of the season where they may well feel tired - and played a lot better in the second. A decent result, as I said...

mj said...

And if Sam had been in charge for that first half he would have been absolutely slaughtered - we did a lot of passing around to no effect and a lot of mis-placed passes. We were below par but improved second half.