Co-chairman David Gold frequently takes to Twitter to officially report all the major activity at West Ham United and on Monday night he gave the fans an update on the latest injury situation ahead of Saturday’s trip to Burnley.
Gold stated that Guy Demel, James Collins, Ricardo Vaz Te and Mark Noble are set to be involved at Turf Moor. I am particularly pleased to see Noble’s name back in the frame because, as I mentioned in my previous article, in the last two games we have certainly lacked leadership and that is what Noble gives to the side.
Burnley may currently be in the bottom three but will be tough opposition this weekend. They are renowned for targeting the opposition’s weaknesses and it will not have escaped their notice that Alex Song, despite his obvious class, can at times be guilty of giving possession away cheaply in dangerous areas.
Clarets’ boss Sean Dyche, affectionately known by the media as “the Ginger Mourinho”, has developed a style that is hard to break down but ready to take advantage of any defensive lapses.
Noble rarely allows the game to drift and is constantly on the case of his teammates if he sees that they are not pulling in the same direction. In the recent home game with Liverpool, Reds’ striker Mario Balotelli clearly got under the skin of goalkeeper Adrian, who usually keeps his composure pretty well. On this occasion he was close to losing it completely and it was stand-in skipper Noble who was quickly in to stop a bad situation getting worse. His presence is also key to the team because he is a combative player and not afraid to show his tenacity in a tackle.
It has become clear that competition for places at the club has become fiercer this is particularly the case in midfield. Noble may not be a first-team regular for much longer once Cheikou Kouyate returns to fitness. In an interview with West Ham TV, assistant manager Neil McDonald claimed “Mark Noble has been a staple of the team for a number of years, but Alex Song has come in. So we’ve had to make a decision about having one or two sitting midfielders”.
Burnley are an uncompromising team and it is always tough when coming up against a newly promoted side at their own ground. My feeling is that if the Hammers are harbouring ambitions of winning this game then Saturday is not the time for experimentation.
Providing both Song and Kouyate are fit, perhaps next week’s home game against Manchester City might be the best time to change personnel. While the team is winning it can often be dangerous to disrupt their rhythm and certainly Sam Allardyce believes if you currently hold the shirt you deserve it.