Well this was certainly a game of two halves. The first half seemed little better than the previous two home games, apart from the superb performance of Mark Noble. The whole tam seemed very nervous and there was barely a shot on goal apart from a Tevez effort. Brighton’s midfield passing was much better than ours but they lacked any kind of punch up front – as did we. Boa Morte looked bright but he didn’t see an awful lot of the ball on the left with most of the attacks coming, bizarrely, through Christian Dailly on the right. Ferdinand and Gabbidon looked solid enough, but then again they didn’t have any set pieces to defend. Ferdinand came off just before half time with what looked like a bad groin injury.
The second half saw a vast improvement. Dailly moved into central defence and the underrated (well, at least by Curbishley) Jonathan Spector had another good 45 minutes at right back. Having had a quiet 45 minutes, Carolos Tevez burst into life for the last half of the game. His flicks and tricks were a delight and his combination with Yossi Benayoun must have pleased his watching manager. It seems to me that Tevez is not suited in the out and out striker role and would ideally play in the hole behind the front two and drift out to the right – a bit like Eyal Berkovic used to.
Carlton Cole gave a solid enough performance and scored a typical poacher’s goal for West Ham’s second. he was subbed with 20 minutes to go but was replaced by a rather anonymous Bobby Zamora, who contrived to miss a goal from about 4 inches. The Brighton fans, who outsung us for the whole match, still love him.
But the biggest plus of the whole game was the performance of Mark Noble. He was everywhere, and was about the only Hammers player to actually WANT the ball in the first half. His tackling was tough, his passing was accurate and he scored the first goal. He showed why he should have been in the team since the beginning of the season. Hopefully he will start next week against Fulham, along with Tevez. And now for the scores on the doors…
Carroll 7 – untroubled, no real saves to make
Gabbidon 7 – solid
Ferdinand 7 – no real difficulties
McCartney 8 – excellent attacking down the left
Dailly 7 – better centre back than right back
Spector – 7
Mullins 6 – still too lethargic
Benayoun 9 – best showing of the season
Boa Morte 6 – some good runs and crosses
Noble 9 – everywhere, super performance
Tevez 8 – anonymous first half but fantastic second when he moved to the right
Cole 7 – powerful but doesn’t win enough headers. took his goal well