Tuesday 8 January 2013

Mid Season Report: Steady as she goes me hearties!

A whole half season over and done with and we are much clearer where our Hammers heroes rank in the Premiership scheme of things. Not unexpectedly, we have found the second quarter harder going than the first gaining a further 8 points from the additional 9 fixtures (compared to 15 from the first 9), but this was predictable given the difficulty of the fixture list with Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Everton, Newcastle  and West Brom amongst our opponents –all sides who fancy themselves for a European adventure next year. At 23 points from 19 games we are ahead of schedule, and have a run of relatively easier fixtures ahead. Moreover, the results against Chelsea and Newcastle demonstrate that we can pick up points anywhere if needed.

Injuries have certainly also been an impeding factor – with Carroll, Diame, Vaz Te, Benayoun and McCartney all sorely missed along with longer term casualties in Diarra and Collison, but they are all recovering well and with the bullish attitude of the two Davids heading into another transfer window, things look good.

Player reports:                                    

 Jussi Jaaskelainen has been steady as a rock between the sticks –the relationship with Collins and Reid has flourished.….8/10.

James Collins has been a huge presence in the defence and also a real handful for the opposition at set pieces. Totally reliable but only for 95% of the time as a costly error against Reading demonstrated!...7/10.

Winston Reid has continued to really impress. Solid at the back, calm in possession, and lively when he gets forward. Don’t tell the ‘big’ clubs!....9/10.

James Tomkins has finally got his chance to contribute – and has found himself in a variety of roles from midfield to right back and then his more natural centre back position. No surprise that he has done well and is taking his chance to pose questions about our most effective centre back pairing – Reid and Collins are still shading it though!....7/10

Guy Demel has continued to experience some niggly injuries but has become considerably more reliable when he has played and links well with the attck when he makes those thunderous runs down the right wing. …. 7/10.

Joey O’Brien continues to perform as both Mr flexible and Mr Reliable, and even popping up with a few of his rare goals! Enjoying himself and it shows ….8/10.

George McCartney has been suffering with injury niggles and needs to get some consistent game time under his belt again….5/10.

Matt Taylor has slotted back in after some injury absences and has been solid without extravagant.. …6/10.

Momo Diame was continuing to dominate and impress until the unfortunate Liverpool injury that visibly changed our fortunes this season – on the up side, the injury will hopefully have scared off potential bids from Arsenal and Spurs and even QPR?!?! Back next week or so and sorely missed in the interim…..7/10.

Kevin Nolan continues to pop up all over the place but the goals have dried up a bit – a big factor in why we have picked up just over half as many points in the second quarter as the first 9 games. His career record says this is only a temporary blip….7/10.

Mark Noble has been excellent and forms the very rock upon which the team is founded.  Clocking up the goals as well with his ruthless penalty taking….8/10.

Matt Jarvis has started to deliver on a more regular basis but we clearly haven’t seen the very best of him yet. Crossing still a bit inconsistent.…7/10.

Gary O’Neill has come in and put in quite a number of decent shifts. He looks like an ideal backup for Mark noble both in style and appearance….6/10

Ricardo Vaz Te has just returned and looks lively and keen but has not rediscovered his goalscoring boots just yet as the disappointing miss against Reading showed. The money says he’ll kick back into his best form again soon as the business half of the season is when he comes to life!….5/10.

Yossi Benayoun’s return was spoiled somewhat by his injury problems and he has slipped back to Chelsea. He may yet make another triumphant return. …6/10

Modi Maiga continues to survive of appearance pickings and must be pretty frustrated as he has looked sharp whenever he gets a run out. It would be a pity to lose him to another club in the transfer window. He remains our joint highest scoring forward in all competitions!....6/10.

Andy Carroll has missed most of the second quarter due to injury and also got himself involved in some off the field nonsense in Dublin. At his salary rate he will need to be on the field a bit more but all the same he does bring a certain mayhem to the oppositions half when present.  Got his first goal vs Spurs but then injured just when we hoped that he would kick on. His return is apparently imminent. Let’s hope he stays fit this time…... 5/10

Carlton Cole has impressed with some excellent performances since slipping in to the solo striker role – unfortunately, as much as he has upped the physical side of his game in an effort to match the impact of Andy Carroll, just like Andy he is not a natural goalscorer. Good to see the head in good working order ….8/10

Alou Diarra and Jack Collison have both just returned and will be looking to be a significant part of our season. Fingers crossed for both.

Sam Allardyce continues to win everybody over with his cool demeanour. Refreshingly honest when we fall short, he has clearly created a culture of determination and success amongst the playing staff ...9/10

The Two-Davids have been a source of continued banter and obvious passionate commitment to the club. They’ve outboxed all comers on the Olympic stadium business and clearly want to push the club to another level. Not slow to splash some cash in the Transfer window and the Joe Cole signing is delicious nostalgia for all Hammers faithful. Goldie’s twitter account provides a surprisingly interesting window into what is going on in the minds of our directors and management staff…. 9/10

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