Baggies succumb to the West Ham Way

I thought we were fantastic at the Hawthorns.

After yet another slow start when we might well have conceded and, if that had happened who knows what the outcome may have eventually been, we set about imposing ourselves and playing our new brand of football in an impressive manner.

Indeed, such was the quality of the team performance that it is difficult to single out individuals. All of our midfield players had a good day. Kouyate drove on imperiously, Lanzini was busy, busy, busy and a constant threat, Payet was back to something near his best and Noble even managed to get on the score sheet from open play – twice! In fact, his second goal and our third was a thing of beauty, prompting the cry from the faithful ‘too good for England, too good for England’ in some sort of mock irony, not that Hodgson will either have been watching or even care.

Antonio was once again magnificent too albeit more in terms of supporting the attacking play rather than acting as a right back. Some of us were incredulous that he was again selected in that position but as someone pointed out on my Twitter time feed, Billic was obviously keen to play both Sakho and Carrol and in so doing the only way to accommodate the excellent Antonio was in the right back position. I guess, if you look at it like that, it has some sense to it. Kind of feel for young Byram though, whose time must surely come/

WBA vs West Ham; a view from a Baggie

This week, a big ‘thank you’ to Natalie Mansell, whom I found on Twitter @NatMansell through the incomparable @Stokietony when putting a shoutout for a Baggie who might be willing to answer a few questions from a fan’s perspective. Nat’s bio goes thus:

STH 15 years. Sit at back of the Smethwick. /. Av a loff or sod off.

Good enough for me!

This week the questions are posed by me, except where alternatively attributed. Hope you enjoy the read! (HM)

West Ham vs Watford; a routine home win

The match against Watford turned into one of those things we experience only very occasionally as West Ham United supporters, a routine home win.

With Watford facing Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-final at the weekend it was widely anticipated that they would field a second-string side and so, in most positions, it came to pass. Billic showed his intent by pairing Sakho and Carroll up top and with Lanzini given license to roam we looked dangerous for the entire match. An early goal settled any nerves as Carroll continued his scoring streak and for the most part Watford were able to offer little in the way of meaningful resistance, even if some of their approach play was neat and tidy enough.

The game it will be memorable for not one but two penalties actually awarded to the Hammers, justifiably but equally surprisingly after a series of refereeing decisions that have been widely acknowledged to have gone against us. If you were cynical you might even conclude that the FA had a word in the referees ear and said “now that they cannot get top 4, it is okay to give them a few decisions!” I’m not so I won’t.

At the back things still look decidedly odd. For some reason Billic persists in playing Antonio at right back and this leads to an imbalance and an insecurity in terms of our defensive capabilities. It was good to see the Ginger Pele make a brief, returning cameo last night and it is to be hoped that he can resume his previously imposing form in the run-in.