Well done, boys . . .

Well that was an unexpected result, now wasn’t it?  We knew the team had been steadily improving since the beginning of the season, but even with that I figured at best we could salvage a draw out of this game.  The first victory of the Premier League season, and though it took a little longer than expected, it feels especially sweet considering that it came against our rivals Tottenham, a team that we haven’t beat in 4 years.

Avram Grant made a brave (and ultimately correct) move by selecting Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna for the side ahead of Carlton Cole, coming off of the duo’s sharp performances at the mid-week Carling Cup match.  Since he became a regular first team player, this is the first time I can remember Cole being left on the bench as a result of team selection and not for injury reasons.  Perhaps it’s what’s best for him to take a break, considering that he’s been nowhere near the form that made him so invaluable to West Ham last year.  He’s not quite been the same player since his knee injury, as he doesn’t seem to have the same explosiveness and movement that, combined with his size and strength, made him such a handful for opposing defenders.  Luckily Piquionne has shown the ability to be a similar target forward, and it was his strength in the air that won the goal and the game on Saturday.  Obinna put in another strong performance, and his pace seems to cause all sorts of problems for defenses.  I feel that sometimes he is too eager to pull the trigger on a shot, and there were a couple times against Spurs that he had the option to pass to a teammate in a better position but instead opted for a difficult try at goal.  However, last year’s squad seemed hesitant to ever shoot, with the exception of Diamanti, so I like that we’re not trying to pass the ball into the goal. For me, Obinna is a must-start at this point.

Another impressive performance came from the much-maligned Robert Green.  An absolute wall today, he showed why he was chosen as the England number one.  Considering his performances in the World Cup and the first weeks of the season, it’s easy to forget that he has the ability to be a top notch goalkeeper, and hopefully this will help him regain some confidence that has been lacking.  I loved his “up yours” salute towards the press box at the end of the game.  It was the first bit of emotion that he’s showed ever since his problems began, and was a real reflection of how important this performance was to him especially.  I was beginning to wonder if it was time for Marek Stech to get some playing time, especially after his strong game against Sunderland in the Carling Cup.  The pessimist in me thought that it may be a good idea to play the youngster in a game that I didn’t think we could win.  I figured that Green’s confidence had been shot already, and that missing a difficult fixture could help him recover.  At least when I’m wrong, I’m spectacularly wrong.  Green had a phenomenal game, and should maintain his place in the team for a while yet.

In short, it was a strong showing from the team as a whole.  Midfield was bossed by Mark Noble and Scott Parker, but one of the few disappointments from the game was the subbing Kieron Dyer after 42 minutes.  It could have been a lot worse, but Grant has come out since the game and said that it wasn’t injury but illness that forced Dyer out.  Pablo Barrera came in continued to play well, and I would think he warrants a look with the first team sometime soon.  Even Luis Boa Morte, who has been a favorite target of the boo birds at Upton Park, came in and contributed, sticking in with hard tackles and breaking up any flow that Tottenham had.  I felt that the defense had their best game in probably the past year, with Matthew Upson and Manuel da Costa dominating and Danny Gabbidon holding his own on the left flank.  I think we may have found our best pairing in the center of the defense.  Oh, and Lars Jacobsen looks like a great signing now as well.  A very solid (and natural) right back, he may not contribute as much offensively as, say Glenn Johnson, but he has really shored up a problem area for the team.

So ends a great week for West Ham football.  A tie at Stoke City, a win at Sunderland, and now a home victory over Tottenham.  That’s better I could have hoped for.  A home fixture looms against a tough Fulham team, but the way we’re playing, we can give anyone a good match.  I’ll sleep well this week knowing that we’re on our way up, and that we’re doing this without the help of Thomas Hitzlsperger.  He’ll be back soon, and we can really get on with the season.

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~ by ar_sage on September 27, 2010.

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