We got exactly what we deserved from this game. A victory. To bounce back after two less than inspiring performances was incredibly important, and we started this game with ambition, intent and commitment.
This was one of the most physical encounters I can remember at Upton Park, but we gave as good as we got. The referee, Mike Dean, was the worst we have seen at West Ham this season. He was totally inconsistent, failing to punish terrible fouls at all and then dishing out yellow cards when they weren’t warranted. I lost count of the times I saw him with his arm around a Man City player.
The great thing about this performance was that, again, as in January’s games, there was no weak link. There was a consistency of performance right across the team. The lowest mark I gave any player was a 7. One of the main differences to the last two games is that we managed to play with some width. Collison and Ilunga were superb down the left in the first half, and Savio really made a difference when he came on. The goal resulted from his shot from the left hand edge of the area.
The BBC gave their Man of the Match to Rob Green and it is easy to see why. He made two point blank saves which would have been certain goals – both from the otherwise anonymous Robinho. It was Green’s best performance of the year so far.
Defensively, we were awesome today. Lucas Neill had Robinho in his pocket and put in a very aggressive performance. He was just as good going forward and I’d say this was his best game of the season. James Tomkins had a fantastic game. His constant stream of clearing headers were Collins-esque.
In midfield Scott Parker was imperious again, and his early yellow card for bringing down Micah Richards seem to spur him and the rest of the team on. Kovacs was industrious and player far further forward than I was expecting. He’s not the quickest, but he was at the centre of everything. Collison, though, was for me the man of the match in the first half. He was all over the pitch and just as effective in defense as attack. Has he actually ever had a bad game for us? Maybe being left out at Middlesborough gave him an added incentive to do well. He faded a bit in the second half, but that should not obscure how well he took his goal. It was not an easy chance. I think that was his third goal of the season, which is not a bad return at all.
Up front David Di Michele had a good match. He combined well with Cole and had a couple of good chances. He also tackled back and buzzed all over the pitch in the first half. He tired towards the middle of the second half and was then replaced by Spector who, although he was only on for fifteen minutes, did superbly well in shoring up the midfield. Savio, who came on for Behrami, showed that he is going to be some player. The way he controlled a very difficult clearance and then ran half the length of the pitch with the ball was brilliant. The way he took his shot from the left forced Given into an instinctive save, which left Collison with the task of lobbing the ball home. I can’t wait to see Savio start. It can’t be long before that happens.
But I want to reserve huge praise for Carlton Cole. He was immense today. He didn’t have many clearcut chances, but the way he played others in and held the ball up contributed hugely to this performance. If anyone scored him at less than an 8 they can’t have been watching the same game as me.
So that puts us in 7th place. If Man U win today and a top 4 side wins the FA Cup,. 7th place guarantees a European spot. On this evidence, we can do it. We’ve now got matches against Wigan on Wednesday and then West Brom the following Monday. Six points would put some pressure on Everton, who at the moment are 8 point ahead of us. We can but dream!
Di Michele 7
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