A Much Improved All-Round Performance
Finally a performance to be proud of on Saturday. Played at a much higher tempo with good movement and penetrative passing. Playing three at the back worked very well and it also uncluttered the midfield of the Kouyate-Noble partnership allowing the ball to move much more freely and with real purpose. The returning Cresswell meant there were options on both flanks and his understanding and interplay with Payet can be devastating at times. Excellent performances (in no particular order) from Cresswell, Reid, Obiang, Kouyate and Lanzini. On the other hand, Noble still looks a little lost and well off the pace and must be coming under pressure from Fernandes who from his various cameo appearances looks assured and full of energy.
A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever
The Manuel Lanzini goal was a rare thing of beauty. This is the type of goal I love to see. I know they all count the same but, as far as goals to admire go ,the beautifully worked team goal trumps the 25 yard torpedo every time in my opinion. A flick by Payet, the wonderful pass from Obiang to Cresswell, the patient exchange between Cresswell and Payet, the teasing Cresswell cross and Lanzini’s perfect run and clinical finish. I have yet to tire of watching it. Elsewhere at the weekend I also came across fine well worked team goals by ex-Hammer Junior Stanislas for Bournemouth in their annihilation of Hull City and from last season loan reject Victor Moses netting the third for Chelsea against Leicester. The type of action that makes the game great to watch.
The Consistency of Inconsistent Refreeing
I have to admit that I have lost the plot as to what does and doesn’t constitute a penalty these days. If there is a foul tackle then it should be a foul regardless of how anyone reacts. Whether a player goes down (too) easily or not is besides the point. Clive Allen, the pundit on the commentary I had, thought Cresswell had ‘gone down too easily’ although it didn’t look theatrically in any way to me or, in fact, most other observers. The mistake was compounded by a booking for simulation and then exacerbated a minute later by the second yellow card from a marginal tussle with Zaha.
I wrote before the game that Atkinson had yet to issue a red card this season so maybe he was behind on his targets. There really is no consistency. In the Middlesbrough – Watford match referee Roger East yellow carded Boro’s Barragan for a foul (not too dissimilar to the Creeswell one) on Isaac Success but then when the defender committed almost a carbon copy on the same player a little later it went unpunished.
Sometimes decisions can be seen as harsh but Cresswell’s dismissal was simply wrong and it’s a travesty that the decision cannot be corrected and a suspension must be served.
– Graham Poll writing in the Daily Mail
Knowing Me, Knowing You, Zaza!
I would agree that Zaza probably had his best game in a West Ham shirt although to be honest the bar was set fairly low. Possibly he has worked on his fitness and he is getting closer to the levels required to operate in the Premier League. However, with the appearances clock ticking on the apparent ‘obligation to buy’ clause he still looks a long, long way away from being a £20 million striker (even at devalued prices). An off form striker is one getting into positions but being unable to finish whereas I can’t recall a serious Zaza goal attempt yet this season. I have heard people talking about him playing upfront with Carroll which seems laughable to me not only for the combined lack of mobility but also for the way it would by necessity weaken the midfield. If you are going to play with a lone striker I believe you need someone who is fast, brave, mobile and strong. It is puzzling how Bilic sees this as his striker targets don’t seem to follow any template. I was concerned by his comments that he had been interested in Benteke who is just another one dimensional player. As well as we defended on Saturday, Palace with Benteke were very predictable (as Pardew sides often are) and I hope that we can eventually find a striker to support a more fluid style of play; the type of job that Callum Wilson performed for Bournemouth in their game.
The purpose of sending young players out on loan is to aid their development by giving them game time and experience playing in the lower divisons. So, how are our loanees shaping up. Fresh from his first international goal for Norway, Martin Samuelsen was given a rare start for Blackburn but lasted for just over the hour in their goalless draw against Ipswich; Stephen Hendrie did not make the squad. Reece Burke (and I believe Kyle Knoyle) are both injured and so missed Wigan’s draw with Burton Albion. Josh Cullen played a full 90 minutes but couldn’t prevent Bradford surrendering their unbeaten record at Oxford while Lewis Page lasted 24 minutes for Coventry in their defeat at Charlton before injury required him to be substituted; at least it was all square at the time. George Dobson was an unused substitute in Walsall’s home victory against Shrewsbury. Doneil Henry was a second half substitute for AC Horsens in the 1-1 Danish Super League draw with AGF. Verdict: nothing to get excited about.