I know I’m not the only one that was left aching after the game against Liverpool. A 3-2 loss is always going to hurt, especially when you play well and all the goals against you come from former players (though to that point, Shelvey can stop celebrating like an idiot, that was an own goal).
It was, I imagine, a great game for a neutral, and in retrospect I did enjoy it in the “can’t sit down, cursing and yelling at the TV” kind of way. We deserved something from the game, no doubt.
Liverpool did their thing, passing the ball around for the sake of statistics, often with no incisiveness whatsoever. Their first two goals seemed to come from nowhere, despite the fact that they had double our passing and 61% of the ball (stats via FourFourTwo’s Stat Zone app). We played really well, and certainly deserved something from the game. Diame going off injured certainly hurt, and seemed to shift the balance in Liverpool’s favour.
I feel that Gary O’Neil should have been brought on rather than Tomkins, as O’Neil can play as a central midfielder assigned to hassle an opponent’s passing game, whereas Tomkins, being the technically sound but defensive minded player he is, prefers to sit deep and central and break up moves as they get into the attacking third. Either way, losing Diame is a major blow, and it’ll be interesting to see how we can cope.
On a positive note, and to echo Big Sam’s sentiments, we’re through 7 of our toughest games in a horrible fixture list and we’ve got 8 points out of it. We’ve still got a few tough games ahead, with West Brom on Sunday, followed by Everton at home and Arsenal away, but then again they’re all tough games in the Premier League.
West Brom have turned the Hawthorns into a fortress under Steve Clark, and getting points this Sunday will be extremely difficult, but it is possible. West Brom tend to defend deep (and well), hit on the break, and efficiently dispatch their chances. Long and Morrison will be dangerous, and they have Lukaku at their disposal as well. They’re solid at the back and efficient going forward. Remind you of anyone?
We are going to have to keep it tight, because it will be a nearly impossible task to reverse a deficit at the Hawthorns. Fortunately, West Brom are coming off the back of three straight defeats, so they, too, are looking to regain momentum. My gut tells me that we’ll be more than happy to let West Brom have the ball, and try to hit them on the break, while West Brom will be more than happy to let us have the ball, try to hit us on the break, resulting in an awkward 0-0 draw.
What I’d like to see happen, however, is for us to control the middle of the park, knock the ball around, and remain patient while we work hard for a 1-0 victory, with Mark Noble dictating the play, of course. Again, Diame is a big miss, with his drive and energy tough to replace. But I’m in an optimistic mood, and I’m going to say that if there’s ever a game where Diame may not be suited, it’s this one. If we are going to protect ourselves from West Brom’s great counterattacking threat, then we must be careful in possession, and Diame has shown that he can be a liability when he carries the ball for too long by often getting pick-pocketed.
I’d say O’Neil pushed a little ahead of Mark Noble would be ideal, as he is an ideal central midfielder that is a highly underrated passer of the ball. Any sloppiness in the middle of the park will cost us dearly on Sunday, so I can only hope that whoever is in the starting lineup brings their best game. It’ll be a tough match, for sure. But like I said, I’m in an optimistic mood. This cold medicine is doing wonders. We’ll go up to the Hawthorns and win 1-0 with a late goal. You watch. Yeah. I feel good.
West Brom v West Ham – Match Statistics
3 – The last three meetings between the two sides have been draws.
1 – West Ham lost just one in their last nine visits to the Hawthorns.
0 – The Hammers are the only team in the Premier League yet to concede a headed goal this season.
3 – The Hammers are also the only side in the top-flight who have used all three substitutes in every game so far this season.
13 – Thirteen percent of West Ham’s shots so far this season have come from inside the six yard box, which is a divisional high.
58 – The Hammers also have the highest percentage of shots inside the 18 yard box in the Premier League with 58 per cent.
30 – However, the Hammers have the lowest percentage of shots outside the 18 yard box in the top-flight with just 30% of their efforts coming from long range.