If you had just landed in your spaceship after a long journey from another planet and looked at the Premier League table, then you might think to yourself that, despite West Ham sitting at the foot of the table with zero points, a match against a newly-promoted Wolves team sitting in fourteenth place, and without a win themselves, would be the ideal game for the Hammers to get off the mark for the season.
If you delved further into what has happened in their first three games, you might not think that West Ham’s task would be an easy one however, although in many respects, despite performing admirably in all three games, Wolves could just as easily be propping up the table themselves, alongside us, without a point.
In their opening fixture at home to Everton, they twice had to come from behind to draw the game with their second equaliser coming just a few minutes from time. However they were helped by a referee (Pawson) who (perhaps) controversially sent off Everton’s Jagielka just before half time. They did look quite impressive, but it is always easier to do so with a man advantage.
In their second game at Leicester they once again had a numerical advantage for the last half hour after Vardy had been sent off, but despite another good performance they failed to capitalise and lost the game 2-0.
Last weekend they were at home to champions Manchester City and after taking the lead were happy to settle for an unlikely draw. Once again they looked well organised; but if VAR had been in operation the Wolves goal would have been chalked off when the referee failed to spot Boly’s handball (and offside) goal. They gave City a bigger test than many sides do, but were fortunate in that they only conceded once, as their opponents hit the woodwork three times.
Our own performance against Arsenal last weekend was much improved, and in many respects we were unlucky to not get at least a point from the game, which could even have been three points if the players had remembered to pack their shooting boots. It was pleasing to see that Anderson began to show glimpses of why his transfer fee was as high as it was.
Against AFC Wimbledon in midweek most of our players had good games, and we ourselves were helped by the dismissal (a bit harsh I thought) of an opponent centre back after 17 minutes. We had gone behind in the second minute thanks to Ogbonna at a corner once again concentrating on trying to block the man he was marking, not watching the ball, and being beaten in the air. I also believe that Adrian would have been disappointed that he could not keep the header out. What I can’t understand is why nobody on the West Ham coaching staff is pointing out to our experienced Italian international the error of his method of defending at corners which was a copy of the Bournemouth winner just a fortnight ago.
For me there were excellent performances from many of the players, especially Snodgrass, Rice and Diop. Hernandez, known for his goalscoring as opposed to his general play, missed several chances to score by not even connecting cleanly with the ball, and even the goal he scored at the end was fortunate. For me he should be an impact substitute at best and certainly not a starter in our best eleven.
Bookmakers expect the game this weekend to be a close affair with 1-1 being the most likely score according to the odds they have set. We are marginal favourites at 6/4 to win the game, although our opponents are priced at around 9/5 with 12/5 for a draw. With my trusty optimistic hat once more on my head I’m predicting a 2-1 win which is priced at 8/1. With more difficult fixtures in the pipeline we could really do with three points from this game, otherwise we are likely to spend some time near the bottom of the table looking upwards, a similar situation to the past two seasons. Five of our next six games see us facing Everton, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester. And even the easiest game of the six (on paper) against Brighton will not be one to look forward to if last season’s two games against them are anything to go by.
One table where we often find ourselves near the top in recent times is the one where they work out how many points teams drop in a season from a winning position. After just three games this time around we find ourselves at the top once again having already dropped six points from being in the lead in two of our matches. Let us hope that this time we can score first and retain the advantage to pick up the much-needed three points and begin to climb the table.