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Friday, February 23, 2007

28 of 38 - West Ham (home)

Well, it had to happen one day - Curbs returns to the Valley. Normally, after 15 years together, two promotions - including giving us our first Championship for 65 years - and remembering the emotional cheers last April, you would have hoped for a little nostalgia and cheerful banter on his return. But, football isn't like that sometimes for, unfortunately, our ex-manager choose inexplicably to join the club just over the water, West Ham. We don't dislike them as much as we do the Palarse, maybe because we've usually proved ourselves superior to them on the pitch, but that's not the point. A break after 15 years was always going to be difficult but his joining his beloved West Ham almost feels like an act of betrayal. In fact, it feels a bit like your ex-wife marrying your best mate and then inviting herself round for a cup of tea to show off her new expensive clothes and accessories.

But, because of the awful dilemma that both teams find themselves in, this little meeting wouldn't be over a cosy cup of tea, will it? For, as if Curbs' return in a Derby match is not enough, then we have the added tension of it being a right royal Relegation Battle with only 11 games to go. Both teams are 6 points from safety and need to win, and badly.

And if that is not enough to whet your appetite, then there's the addition conflict that our new Manager is playing against his old club and particularly against the Club Chairman that sacked him just two months ago, saying, allegedly that he was a cancer that had to be removed......

It all makes for an explosive encounter. Fortunately for us, the Hamsters are anything but on fire at the moment and are currently useless having lost their last 4 games, to Villa and Liverpool and twice to no-hopers Watford. They've scored just 18 goals all season and an abysmal total of just 4 away from home in 13 games, that's one goal every 292.5 minutes.....or once every 3.25 games and as they've gone 158 minutes since the last time they scored away from Upton Park, we've got nothing to worry about. More important their current form is reportedly woeful and they've only won once in their last 11 games in cup and league and that was against Brighton in the Cup.

Unbeaten for 50 years at the Valley
See what I mean, the reason we've always liked seeing the Hamsters is that, although never knowingly beaten them in the Cup, in the League it's a completely different story. Overall, we've done the business 13 times, with 10 draws and a miserly 8 West Ham wins. In the Prem. it's even better - Charlton 5 wins, West Ham 3, with 2 draws.

Home at the Valley in the 15 league games between us, they've only ever won once, back on October 12th 1957, 50 years ago. We've won 7 and there's been 7 draws. And in the 5 Premiership games, they've never won at the Valley where it stands at 3 Addicks wins and 2 draws.

The Opponents
Old Boys Reunion
There's a host of old boys, apart from Curbs, Day and Peacock, returning on Saturday, so for them it's more like a school reunion than a football match, especially as most of them wouldn't be bringing their kit. There's Konchesky ( he must be gutted, leaving us to get rid of Curbs and look what happens), Bowyer, Cole, Spector and dear old Shawn Newton. There's talk of playing Konchesky but its likely that only Carlton Cole will get to run about. Captain Reo-Coker is suspended and Spector is out injured as is new signing Lucas Neill. Upson seems to have recovered though and little Bent will get a chance to see what an £6 mill, but rising to 7.5, defender looks like.

If you really care about who we're playing, you can read a fans eyeview from the Hamsters standpoint. For me, I was shocked to read a few weeks ago what Curbs' pays these no-hopers. Apparently Neill collects £70k per week, Boa Morte £50k, Upson £45k, Kepa £35K, Quashie £25K, Davenport £20k and that's just the January bargains. I bet he doesn't pay Konchesky anywhere near as much...

The Addicks
Bentie's Back
After having to cheer on Marcus for the last 7 games, its good that not only has he not been sold but here he is again, skipper and leading goalscorer Darren Bent, although the cafc seems to question whether he'll start. Having discussed the team yesterday, all we can say is that Pards will stick as close to a winning formula as he can with: Carson, Sanfoka, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Thatcher, Rommedahl, Faye, Song, Holland, Marcus Bent and little old Darren Bent.

1-0 to the Addicks
The good news comes from that git on the telly who states the bleeding obvious with "This is such a big game for both teams that I expect it to be a tense, nervous affair," but then forecasts a 2-1 Home Win. Bad news is that he appears to be losing his sure touch, as he only got 2 results right last week. Nearer home, pedro45 sees a 2-1 Addicks win and more important, our own top prediction scorer, 16 right from 27, Angela Morris from cafcpicks has also gone with a home 3 points.

And with the Hamsters not due to score away from home for another 134 minutes, all we have to do is find the net once to claim the three points. I fancy Marcus to score his 100th league goal, at last.....

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