Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Clash of the Titans, II

Posted by hakanrylander on February 3, 2009

It’s time now to start preparing for Sunday’s potential humdinger at Upton Park. No disrespect to Gordon and Rio, but this could be an even more exciting clash. West Ham away is a difficult tie at the best of times, and we lost there in both the previous seasons. In december 2007 late goals from Anton and Upson turned the game around, and a year earlier a goal from Reo-Coker secured a win in what was Alan Curbishley’s first (and best?) game in charge.

This time we face a West Ham side clearly in the ascendency. A few months ago I had the feeling that the WH-players just wanted to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible while their team-mates were hiding, but now they’ve developed a confident passing game under the inspired leadership of Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke (they’ve even convinced Carlton Cole that he can score!!).

During the transfer window they sold Craig Bellamy who was their best player for much of the autumn, but this might not be a big problem for them since the overall improvement lessened the dependence on Bellamy to create chances on his own.

Arsenal only managed two shots on target against WH last Saturday. We should be able to improve on that. I expect Carrick (on his old ground) and Berbatov to unlock the WH defence.

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9 Responses to “Clash of the Titans, II”

  1. I agree with most of what you are writing about the West Ham game, but the absence of Bellamy was very noticeable against l’Arse.
    DiMichele showed against Hull that he will be an asset in games we can dominate and were we can feed him balls in classic striker positions. Against teams where we will not dominate the pitch Bellamy’s way of being a threat to most defenses, as you say, on his own will be greatly missed.

    The mental “collapse” that we have seen when forced to play strictly defense was not there last week. Clarkes influence is obvious, and our defense was more organized and less based on individual impressive performances. Parker was not sitting in the lap of Collins and Upson as he has previously been.

    But you haven’t mentioned our new boy Savio that got 20+ minutes at Emirates. He “get’s passed defenders as if they weren’t there” if you want to believe the hype. Had a bit of a problem to get passed the Arsenal midfielders though. The West Ham academy graduate Rio may want to keep an eye out for him anyway since Zola says “he reminds me of myself at that age”.

  2. hakanrylander said

    The 20 minutes at the Emirates wasn’t enough for me to form an opinion about Savio, but he certainly seemed unfazed by the occasion. Zola must think highly of him to pay something like £9m for a teenager. It will be very interesting to follow how he develops.

  3. Prince H said

    I do also guess Green will have more to do forthcoming Sunday, If not Berbatov falls asleep or moan like a teenager – he seems to do that most of the time. Guess Tevez will stay on the bench. He has never been very commited to beat his old team it seems.

    Joppe has a good point, talking of Bellamy’s importance in these kind of games, but that does not mean that we will not try to win home at Upton Park. Before Cole’s new era, I do actually remember one game in where he was unbeatable. And that was against Rio and Vidic last year. He won every clash. Outside the box. But nowadays when the big man has learnt to go in there and fight I won’t be surprised to see him score.

    But we may need to have a miracle – not just God on our side – on our defensive right on Sunday. So our slow captain finds a super-hero-way to stop the 65 times faster Nani and/or Ronaldo. If so we will have a point!

  4. “Arsenal only managed two shots on target against WH last Saturday.”

    But they stink anyway. lol.

    Nonetheless, I agree that the Hammers will be providing us a stern challenge to rack up another 3 points and take a step closer to the Premier Trophy again.

  5. hakanrylander said

    I know that Berbatov is a “love him or hate him” kind of player, even among United fans, as some consider him lazy and aloof. I love him. At his best there’s no other player in the world that I more enjoy watching, with the possible exception of Messi. Do you remember how Berba went past Collins at Old Trafford a few months ago? For me that’s the highlight of the season so far.
    I also look forward to the battle between Rio/Vidic and Carlton. But I seriously doubt that WH and Neill will have Eric on their side.

  6. Prince H said

    I guess the West ham defense do have to be at their very best.
    But the referee as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7zB6o6nHXQ&feature=rec-HM-fresh+div

    If Man U buy Tevez, which seems more than plausible, you will be the team that has bought for most money, and beats even Chelski, now on top with 200 millions BP. Sorry to say, the days you were seen as a team built with homegrown talent are long gone. Well, like most teams… I know.

  7. hakanrylander said

    Nice video:). I have to admit that I disapprove of Ronaldo’s tendency to dive. That’s one reason why he’s not my favourite United player, even though he’s our best player (or at least he was last season). He also complains too much to the referee. Having said that, he’s probably the player in the PL who receives the roughest treatment from opponents.
    You’re absolutely right, of course, about home grown talent. The era of Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Giggs and the Nevilles is exceptional in recent times, and anything similar will probably never occur again. It’s an interesting thought what a line-up West Ham could have fielded on Sunday, had you managed to keep hold of all your home grown players.

  8. The Gaffer said

    It could be an exciting clash but do you think West Ham will go for a win. I expect a rather defensive West Ham team so I’d think a 1-0 to United is on the cards.

  9. Prince H said

    From the opposition’s point of view.

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