Friday 2 January 2015

El Grincho Calls it Spot On for Hammers

Heading into the festive period, placed a lofty fourth in the Premiership, and with a full squad available for selection, Hammers fans were ready to celebrate a cracking holiday. Even better the fixture list provided opportunities to pit our best against top of the table Chelsea, then Champions league place competitors in Arsenal, before a 'soft' home game against West Brom to further consolidate.

As we prepared for Chelsea, That old grinch Jose Mourinho commented that there was no Christmas in the Premiership, but we scoffed as we prepared for a no lose encounter with Chelsea at the Bridge. Big Sam elected to play it crafty and rested Song and Sakho, and we were comprehensively outplayed with the late flurry during which Amalfitano hit the post from three yards after doing everything else perfectly was merely a blip. 

Still, not to worry as we didn't really expect much better and the home clash with Arsenal was clearly targeted as the crucial game of the period. 

We started well, dominating Arsenal with a fluid passing game and as Alex Song wheeled away to celebrate a stunning strike from outside the box it looked like everything ewas going according to plan.

But it's rarely so against the Gooners and we fell victim to a bizarre decision by the referee who disallowed the goal. We still dominated albeit without product until just before half time in a crazy four minutes we gifted the visitors two goals. Half time and 2-0 down despite outplaying the visitors, still we hoped......this team has fight.

And so it was, we fought back gamely. Arsenal are perfectly designed to seize upon the opportunities that come when you push on to them but still we got one back before the game slipped away from us to the cameo of a series of set pieces where Adrian came forward seeking the chance for Hammers immortality, but it wasn't to be.

Slipping towards mid-table obscurity, but with the rudderless Baggies visiting Upton Park we expected to get back on track and again we got the start we needed with a super goal involving a classy interplay between Amalfitano, Cresswell and the irrepressible Sakho. Time to let it flow.

But we stuttered and seemed to be trying to force things. Then the Baggies scored a super counterattacking goal and we were on the ropes, stumbling into half time. In all honesty, we looked second best in the second half and a draw was a mercy. 

With a single point from the Christmas campaign and three of our best performers so far this season about to depart for a month of international duties, this is just the time for an away-day at Goodison Park (NOT!!!). Have we EVER won there? Just as everything seemed set for a productive holiday period, it now seems bleak...just the time for a change of fortune...

Meanwhile, El Grincho got it right - not only for us at West Ham, but also for Chelsea, who apart from the victory over us stuttered at Southampton and then got walloped 5-3 by Spurs......yes, a Mourinho team conceded five goals in one game!!!

And against Spurs??? ....well it is Christmas - a time of magical and improbable happenings!

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