A Drop Of Claret And Blue: West Ham vs Fulham preview

August 31, 2012 in Features, Premier League

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Welcome to A Drop of Claret and Blue. At the time of writing this article, West Ham United have announced the signing of Andy Carroll from Liverpool on a season-long loan deal. The 23-year old striker had been linked with the East London club for the best part of the transfer window, and whilst it looked like the move was unlikely to take place, the Gateshead-born forward has finally put pen to paper. We at Ballsy Banter would like to wish him all the best at his new club.

Before we look forward to the Premier League clash at home to Fulham, and Carroll’s almost certain debut, let’s look back to the Capital One Cup 2nd round fixture against Crewe Alexandra; a match that we thoroughly deserved to win, and did by a comfortable two-goal margin. Nicky Maynard opened the scoring against his former club, taking his goal very well after some quality build up play; a well struck volley from inside the area gave the Irons a lead to defend at the half time whistle. And early in the second half, Modibo Maiga showed great awareness to react quickest to the loose ball and prod home his first goal for West Ham, after Crewe goalkeeper Alan Martin failed to hold on to an initial shot. It was unfortunate to see Nicky Maynard depart West Ham United after netting his first goal of the season, but we wish him all the best at his new club, Cardiff City.

Being at Upton Park on a match day, I occasionally have the absolute pleasure of meeting some of the greats who have worn the hallowed claret and blue colours over the years, and Tuesday night was no exception. Frank McAvennie could be seen walking the corridors with a vodka and coke in his hand, swapping stories for smiles, and whilst I never got to address him personally, I was fortunate enough to grab a few words with West Ham legend Phil Parkes. Below is a picture of myself and the goalkeeper after West Ham beat Hull 2-1 at the end of last season.

I told Phil about the blog, and how readers would appreciate comments from the man himself. When asked to summarise our performance against Crewe in three words, he promptly responded with a grin: “Good young talent.” And you can’t argue with that assessment, considering the ease of this victory with the likes of Jordan Spence and Daniel Potts displaying their talents for the full 90 minutes, and Matthias Fanimo, Robert Hall and George Moncur coming off to bench to show what they can offer. Stephen Henderson looked assertive in goal, and helped maintain our unbeaten home start to the season; two games in which the home faithful have yet to see an away goal. Next up for West Ham in the cup is a tricky home tie against Wigan - a fixture afforded extra spice by the fact it will be the first encounter between the two clubs since Wigan confirmed West Ham’s relegation to the Championship two seasons ago, coming from behind to win 3-2 on the day. The 3rd round fixture will be played in the week commencing September 24th.

Now we look ahead to this Saturday’s early kick off against London rivals Fulham. Fulham enjoyed a 5-0 opening day outing against Norwich, and were unlucky to leave Old Trafford without at least a point. They also lost their midweek cup game to Sheffield Wednesday by a goal to nil, but it’d be foolish to think this gives us any edge over them. While we have certainly fared better than them in recent head-to-head history, only losing once in twelve since the 05/06 Premier League season, there is no denying that they are a strong team, and with the addition of Kieran Richardson, as well as the much hyped signature of Dimitar Berbatov, they will only be stronger. The Cottagers have been waiting a long time for a win at the Boleyn Ground, and while I fancy our chances of denying them a victory here for yet another season, I can’t help but feel this one will end in a draw.

Prediction: 2-2

Expect a few goals to fly in, and don’t rule out a debut effort for Carroll if he makes an appearance. It’d be nice to see Carlton Cole open his account for the season (if he is still wearing a West Ham shirt come September 1st…) and extend his goalscoring record against Fulham; a record that has seen him score six in his last six games against them. I welcome you all to share your thoughts in the comment section ahead of this league encounter, and of course ahead of the transfer window shutting. I am at Upton Park for this weekend’s game, and will try and grab a few more words from Phil Parkes, and any other familiar faces over there.

Come On You Irons!