With the kiddies destroying a full strength Newcastle, to give us our sixth victory in a row in all competitions, and our seventh of eight games this season, confidence is sky high at the club. Everyone has that warm glow at the minute, and it’s wonderful. However, we have it all to lose this weekend. So far this season we’ve corrected one major flaw of last season, we’re winning home games. Relatively comfortably. No more going 1-0 down and struggling to create anything till the last five minutes when we nick a draw. But that wasn’t our biggest downfall last season. That honour was reserved for our calamitous away form, the last minute loss at Upton Park last season being our second of seven losses away from home, and the first of three in a row. A win here would be a nicely timed Fuck You to last season.
Against Blackburn, while we didn’t look completely in control, we also didn’t look like conceding until Jens took matters into his own hands. Or, er, out of his own hands. And, as jolly as the win at Three Point Lane was, we gave Spurs plenty of opportunities to win the game, with Berbatov rounding Almunia but being denied by Captain Kolo, his shot that hit Clichy on the line, Bent’s amusing array of misses (more expensive than Henry? Fuck off), we could have quite easily lost and already be ruing the day this league ever began. It’s obvious to say that we need a win this weekend, because we need to be thinking we can win every game, but two away wins in a row, with our next away game being at Anfield, and the game after that being last seasons champions at home, a win really is vital. Plus, I fucking hate West Ham.
The last team to beat us in the league was, oh yes, the hammers. This is our joint best start to a Premier League season, the last time we managed sixteen points from the first six games was in 2004/2005. A win on Saturday would be the first time we’ve won five league games in a row since that season too.
West Ham have beaten us three times in a row, the last time we got all three points against them was in January 2003. Since the Premiership’s inception, we’ve won seven times at Upton Park, drawn five times, and lost only twice. In all competitions home and away, it’s fifteen wins, six draws and five losses.
West Ham had a decent start to the season until they lost to Newcastle at the weekend, but they still find themselves seventh, able to overtake Chelsea if they win their game in hand on them.
Jens, Gallas and Rosicky definitely out for this. I’m not entirely sure we’ll see Lehmann play another game for the club, Gallas has another endless injury, Rosicky should be back for the Sunderland game next weekend. Hleb will have a fitness test, but with Eboue back, and by the looks of things he had a good game against Newcastle, we should be covered. Eduardo is out for this game, so Bendtner will be on the bench.
I’d expect pretty much all change from the team that played against Newcastle. Defense and attack pick themselves, Tough decision as always is the midfield. Who out of Diaby, Flamini and Gilberto is most deserving to start alongside freescoring Fab? Gilberto should be completely fresh after a couple of weeks rest, Flamini has been in good form, and Diaby is the most exciting of the three. Flamini, while a limited player, has been playing out of his skin recently, and doesn’t really deserve to be dropped. But Diaby is clearly going to be the superior player long term, so why keep playing him out of position or off the bench? Or does Gilberto walk straight back into the team, as our most experienced midfield player? Hard decision. If Hleb is fit, I’d like to see Hleb left and Eboue right. If he fails his fitness test, then it’s probably Diaby left and Eboue/Walcott right.
Subs: Fabianski, Hoyte/Song, Diaby/Denilson/Diarra/Flamini, Walcott, Bendtner.
Bellamy is back fit and will probably partner the inform Ashton in attack. Faubert and Dyer out long term. Parker is back in their squad after being injured for the start of the season, and played in the Carling Cup, so could be involved in this game. Freddie could start, if Curbishley wants to try and achieve the standard result of when a player plays against his old club for the first time. It’d be nice to make him eat his words about Arsenal being in decline first hand.
Subs: Wright, Collins/Gabbidon, Parker, Bowyer/Boa Morte, Bellamy.