A Drop of Claret and Blue - QPR vs West Ham preview

October 1, 2012 in Features, Premier League

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Welcome to A Drop of Claret and Blue, Ballsy Banter’s regular West Ham related feature for the 2012/13 season. It seems like such an age since the last instalment, so let’s quickly cast our minds back to the home fixture against Sunderland nine days ago.

It was a match that I definitely feel we should’ve won, creating far more chances than the away side, and certainly seeing a lot more of the ball. But by the final whistle I was just grateful that we hadn’t lost, with Kevin Nolan securing a draw in added time at the end of the game with a fierce low drive from within the box, after some fine work by Matt Jarvis. But relief soon subsided into a disappointment I hope I don’t feel too often this season; an emotion roused by an inability to put a game beyond the opposition when we’ve been so clearly dominant. Match stats indicate that we amassed twenty shots to Sunderland’s four. The fact we only managed to convert one of our eleven shots on target would suggest that Simon Mignolet was outstanding in goal for Sunderland but, without taking anything away from the goalkeeper’s display, aside from Nolan’s overhead effort that produced a fine save it is difficult to recall an effort that troubled him too much.

I cannot remember the last time I managed to predict the outcome of a fixture so precisely; not only was my 1-1 prediction correct, but I also proclaimed that “after the start Steven Fletcher has made for Sunderland this season, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on the score sheet.” I even mentioned that if West Ham were to find a goal, their “midfielders seem the likeliest bet,” and Kevin Nolan’s late strike not only earned West Ham another point at home and extended an unbeaten run at the Boleyn Ground, but it also confirmed my psychic status. (Forgive my apparent gloating - it is very rare that I correctly foretell football results.) But before I could apply for any clairvoyance vacancies, a midweek cup fixture I thought we’d win 2-1 resulted in a horror 4-1 defeat at the hands of Wigan. I’ll only touch upon this briefly, because it still annoys me greatly.

OK, so Big Sam made changes, and it would be easy to write off the cup exit as a poor showing by a weakened side. But was our team so significantly debilitated that it warranted a 4-1 loss? I don’t think so. The team Allardyce fielded was, in my mind, still capable of securing our name in the draw for the next round. Youngsters like Dan Potts, Jordan Spence and Robert Hall were given valuable experience against a Premier League side, and surrounded by first team regulars like Ricardo Vaz Te, Mark Noble and Matt Jarvis. Modibo Maiga showed perhaps why he should be given a chance ahead of Carlton Cole in the upcoming league game against QPR, scoring his second Capital One Cup goal on seven minutes and giving the home side the lead. An advantage that wouldn’t last too long, and the game was lost long before an 84th minute penalty was converted by Jordi Gomez. It was a frustratingly poor performance by the home side. Would we have conceded four if Jussi was in goal instead of Henderson? Maybe not. Could the back four have been injected with a little more experience? Maybe so. Was there enough talent in the starting line-up to amount a greater challenge, instead of the whimpering effort we had the displeasure of enduring? Definitely yes.

So what can we expect from our next Premier League fixture? Queens Park Rangers are yet to win in the league this season, currently residing at the bottom of the table with only two points to their name. So it wouldn’t be a shock at all to see them win at home to West Ham United, would it? In fairness, QPR’s last three fixtures were away to Manchester City (L 3-1), at home to Chelsea (D 0-0) and away to Tottenham (L 2-1). And there’s no denying the wealth of talent they have at their disposal. Former Hammers keeper Rob Green is second in command to Julio Cesar. Their squad is littered with players who have plied their trade at top European sides, including Jose Bosingwa, Park Ji-Sung and Esteban Granero. And a player close to West Ham hearts is currently their top scorer, having nabbed all three of their strikes so far this season; it will be a welcome sight to see Bobby Zamora play against the team he helped to promotion way back in 2005.

QPR have faired slightly better since their opening day mauling at the hands of Swansea, securing draws against Norwich and the current league leaders Chelsea, incidentally the only points Roberto di Matteo’s side have dropped this season. I’m sure they will see the West Ham fixture as a great opportunity to secure their first win, but with the likes of Jussi, James Collins and Kevin Nolan returning to the starting eleven, intent on casting the midweek cup debacle as far from our minds as possible, West Ham should provide a stern test, and while the optimist in my head is screaming that we will get back to winning ways, the realist is certain we will come away from Loftus Road with a third consecutive league draw, and the search for our first away win will continue.

Prediction: 1-1

I would love to see Modibo Maiga retain his place in the starting eleven, and can see him scoring if he is given the time on the pitch. Bobby Zamora will be desperate to show his former club what they’re missing with a goal, just as he did against Tottenham last time out.

Come On You Irons!