"On Ne Passe Pas", or "they shall not pass", to you and I. James Collins actually made this slogan up contrary to common belief.
The Welsh dragon who turned 30 on Friday, produced yet another solid stalwart performance away to Newcastle. His partnership with Kiwi Winston Reid really is impressive. After yesterday’s 0-0 draw, West Ham are still yet to concede a goal, not to mention concede a shot on target this season.
Ok, ok we have played newly promoted Cardiff who looked somewhat out of their depth and yesterday a Newcastle side who haven’t scored in over 300 minutes of football, but still, we must be doing something right.
Yesterday was a damp dreary day in the North East, and from a neutral perspective I guess a pretty boring game. One shot on target (a nice bit and give and go from Downing who impressed on his first start for the Hammers) and plenty of misplaced passes.
Our away form last year really let us down, we didn’t really ‘go for it’ and if we went behind, well you could just write the game off. It became a case of damage limitation. This season though, you would hope that we will take the game to teams in and around us, well we will have to if we are to meet Allardyce’s wish of 50 points for the campaign.
Whilst the stats may show Newcastle had 10 more shots than West Ham, it doesn’t really reflect the true nature of the game. Most of those shots from Newcastle were high, wide and not pleasant to look at. This was simply down to the fact that West Ham’s back line is so well set up these days. Anytime Newcastle proceeded beyond their own half, West Ham created two lines of four. Newcastle found it incredibly difficult to break down as did Cardiff last weekend. On the odd occasion they did breach this set up, either Collins or Reid were able to deal with the threat.
Ben Arfa had the beating of Joey ‘Jack Of All Trades’ O’Brien on a couple of occasions, but the Irish full back made three brilliantly timed sliding challenges. I think in time Razvan Rat will make the left back position his own, but at this current time, Joey has done nothing to show that he should be dropped.
Special mention to Diame who produced one of those performances, that seems to come once or twice a month where he decides that he will play to his full potential. He was a man possessed, breaking up play, creating chances and happy to run with the ball. He really is a joy to watch when he plays like that.
There was a heart in mouth moment near the end as a cross come shot from Ameobi hit the inside of the post, the ball fell kindly to Gouffran who had the whole of the goal to hit but managed to put it over from inside the six yard box.
However the defensive strength that West Ham have, really is evident. I am a huge fan of local boy James Tomkins, but I feel Collins and Reid complement each other perfectly. I still think Tomkins biggest mistake was playing for the Olympic side last summer. It stopped him from having a full pre-season and he hasn’t really been able to get a constant run of games in the side since then. However when he does play, you feel just as confident. Something that I still feel strange about. I used to breakdown in to a nervous wreck when the opposition had the ball in our half before Sam came, because you knew there was a good chance we’d concede. Now though, there is a real solidity at the back.
This year has a strange feel to it, maybe a cup run or possibly a finish to get us into the Europa League? Who knows? It’s all part of the West Ham rollercoaster.