Taking the positives from a hard earned point against Liverpool at Anfield.
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Sometimes in life you have to blow your own trumpet. Well I haven’t actually got a trumpet but you know what I mean. Since the beginning of this season Geoff and I have been writing this weblog and haven’t pulled any punches when writing about our beloved West Ham. But despite our less than convincing start to the season, I have remained optimistic throughout and my optimism was fully justified after our draw at Anfield.
Anybody who has followed our blog will know that there are certain features that are constant. Firstly, we are involved in a prediction competition with Lawro. Secondly, I write a betting column each week. And thirdly, we write a preview of each game that West Ham play.
First things first. If you have read our prediction competition involving Lawro you will know that I am comfortably ahead in our forecasts for the season to date. This, despite the fact that Lawro is actually paid by the BBC to predict the Premier league results each week, probably because they believe he is a so-called expert. If you have followed his predictions you will know that sometimes he has been beaten by celebrities, some of whom confess they know little about the game. Amongst my predictions this week you will also note that I forecast a 2-2 draw at Anfield.
If you follow my betting column you will know that, after this week, I am comfortably in profit for the season to date, even despite some outrageous fun bets. If it hadn’t been for the last two minutes against Tottenham, which I didn’t foresee, then our season profit would have been huge. Nevertheless I was consistent, and believed that we would get at least a draw from our game at Anfield, and a 2-2 scoreline was a good result for the column.
Finally, if you read my preview for this week’s game you will note that I made comments like “What is there to worry about? We faced Liverpool four times last season. We won both league games, drew 0-0 there in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and beat them after extra time in the replay at Upton Park. That is 390 minutes of football, plus injury time, and we scored seven goals to their one. And we finished above them in the league. So why do the bookies make them 3/10 favourites, and offer odds of 9/1 on us winning the game?” I finished by saying “I’ll put my optimistic hat on and say we’ll get a 2-2 draw on Sunday.”
Now forecasting the results of football matches is a bit of a minefield. It’s even harder to predict what West Ham are going to do. You win some and you lose some. Sometimes you win, hence the reason for blowing my own trumpet after this game.
As far as the game goes, then I was extremely disappointed that we conceded a goal in the first five minutes once again. Anybody who read my book, Goodbye Upton Park, Hello Stratford, which is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon, will note that constantly throughout that last famous season at Upton Park, I wrote about our inability to start a game, or indeed to start a second half of a game, on the front foot. And so it proved again, when we even exceeded our first half lapse at the beginning of the second half, by conceding a goal in just two minutes.
Randolph’s lapse was unfortunate and led to calls on social media for Adrian to return to our goal. It is not a belief I share, and I was pleased he had the opportunity for some redemption with a world class save to deny Henderson later in the game.
I note that I also wrote in the preview of this game that “Bournemouth showed us last Sunday that the Liverpool defence can be got at, and their keeper looked very vulnerable.” Payet once again showed his class by scoring from yet another free kick, although I reckon the Liverpool keeper would have been disappointed that his right arm wasn’t stronger, as he should perhaps have kept it out. And Antonio took his goal well, pouncing on a Liverpool defensive lapse, and just for once scoring with his feet and not his head. I liked his post-match interview where he jokingly said that he considered getting down to nod the ball into the goal.
I also noted that the statisticians came up with a new one that I hadn’t seen before “touches in the opposition penalty area”. It showed that Liverpool won this contest 53-5. But whilst it may be an interesting feature for some, the game proved that it really is a meaningless statistic unless you turn those touches into goals.
I’m sure that Mr. Nordveidt, like Messrs. Zaza and Tore amongst others, must have shown some footballing qualities that made us want to buy them in the first place, but to date I haven’t yet seen what they are. I reckon that, despite Mr. Bilic’s admirable qualities as a football manager, which undoubtedly far exceed my own judgement of footballers, I have a better idea as to what makes a decent right back. He persisted with Antonio in this position for far longer than I believe he should have, and his selection of Nordveidt in the full back role leaves me totally bewildered. His positioning is so far out, and Liverpool spotted this in their pre-match planning. It was no surprise to me that their two goals came from attacks down their left flank.
It was good to hear the West Ham away support throughout the game, and in particular their support for the manager, when he has come under so much pressure. Despite his inability to know a right back when he sees one, I hope that he continues to get the support to get us out of the trouble that we are undoubtedly still in. We have just pulled out of the bottom three, and I hope that it is the last time I see a league table this season where we are in it.
When all is considered it was a point well earned, and the players showed a lot of spirit to earn the draw. Let us hope that we now build on that in the relative easier (on paper) four games to come. I’ll keep my optimistic hat on and hope that I get more opportunities to blow my own trumpet in the weeks to come!