A Drop Of Claret And Blue: A Cole-den Opportunity
Welcome to A Drop of Claret and Blue, home of Ballsy Banter’s watchful eye on West Ham United as they navigate their way through the 2012/13 Premier League season. There will be ups, there will be downs, and there will be awful, awful puns.
The recent international break, which saw England claim four points from their opening World Cup qualifiers, meant that there was no Premier League action at the weekend. So before I look forward to West Ham’s fixture away to Norwich, allow me to cast your minds way back to the 1st of September, when Fulham travelled a short distance to Upton Park, and found themselves a goal down without a minute on the clock.
It was a day that saw Andy Carroll make his debut for the club, and he more than played his part in this fantastic victory, constantly threatening the Fulham defence, and just his presence seemed to fluster the away side, who were well beaten by the half-time whistle. Carroll flicked the ball on to Ricardo Vaz Te, who set up Kevin Nolan for the fastest goal of the season so far. Winston Reid doubled the lead a minute shy of the half-hour mark with a header from a Matthew Taylor corner. And then Taylor turned goal scorer, firing home a loose ball, when all Fulham attention seemed to be on West Ham’s new signing. Though Fulham were significantly better in the second half, mainly through the introduction of Dimitar Berbatov, they never really looked likely getting a goal back, although drew a fine save from Jussi Jaaskelainen right at the death. Carroll unfortunately limped off with twenty-two minutes still to play, a hamstring injury that at first looked likely to keep him out of action for six weeks. However reports have suggested he could be back sooner than anticipated, with the striker making excellent progress on his road to recovery.
One thing is for certain though, and that is that Carroll will miss the coming fixture at Carrow Road, with Carlton Cole set to take his place up front. Whenever conversation with mates turns to football, Cole’s name is almost guaranteed to crop up amongst the West Ham contingent, and there’s always mixed reviews; some reckon he isn’t good enough for the Premier League, while others rate him highly as someone who gives everything over 90 minutes. Whatever you think of the man, there’s no taking away the fact he has been West Ham’s top scorer in all competitions for the last four seasons. And I won’t lie, I have criticized the man’s performances on countless occasions, blaming complacency whenever he has appeared lacklustre. But there is no denying that he has serious competition for that striker’s role this season, and if Cole wants to retain a place in the starting eleven once Carroll is fit, he’ll need to go hell-for-leather, starting this weekend against Norwich. As unfortunate as Carroll’s injury is, in a weird sort of way it should bring the best out of Cole, and I’m hoping he can bag his first goal of the season in a game I reckon may be decided by just the one.
Prediction: 1-0 Win
Norwich haven’t got off to the best start this season, drawing 1-1 twice after an opening day 5-0 horror defeat at the hands of Fulham. I’d love to say that if Fulham can put five past Norwich, and we can put three past Fulham, then we could easily smash Norwich to pieces, but things very rarely play out that way, and I expect we’ll have a tough test against Chris Hughton’s side, who frustrated Tottenham most recently with a late equaliser. I believe we will have the edge, and if we turn in a performance anything like the one against Fulham, it’ll be difficult to see us returning to London without a point at the very least, though I have confidence we will do enough to record our third win of the season.
Feel free to leave comments with your own predictions for the weekend’s early kick off, and any other thoughts you have ahead of the fixture.
Come On You Irons!