Bridge Over Troubled Water and a Pain in the ArseBy: Angela Poe | January 14th, 2011
Finally a quality left back makes his way to Upton Park. Manchester City’s, Wayne Bridge, who has spent his entire impressive career in the Premier League signs his name on the line and commits to helping the Hammers avoid relegation. In the last year he’s dealt with a bit of injury both in his career and personal life, another victim of John Terry’s seemingly endless line of infidelities (Bridge denied a handshake to his former England captain when it was announced that Terry had been doing more than shaking hands with Bridge’s ex). However, Wayne is fit now and seeing a new lady in London (albeit not far from Terry’s grasp) where he’ll remain for the rest of the season. Bridge makes his debut on Saturday at the Boleyn Ground in front of a crowd who’ll no doubt empathize with him and welcome him with open arms. West Ham have needed a proper left back for ages now since we moved make-shift left back Jonathan Spector into the midfield where he CLEARLY belongs, and since injuries have benched Ilunga. In fact no fewer than 4 players have covered the spot playing out of position including Spector’s reprise, Luis Boa Morte, Danny Gabbidon, and Matt Upson.
Which brings us to this Saturday where we’ll undoubtedly face a full-strength Arsenal side. That being said, if their performance in this week’s FA Cup Semi-final first leg was an indication of their “full-strength” team, we don’t have much to worry about, especially at home! Even with the best of their side on the pitch it seemed a comedy of errors and lack of pace threatened the Gunners who barely turned up for the contest.
Ideally the selection I would make would be:
Jacobsen, Tomkins, Upson, Bridge
Sears, Parker, Noble, Stanislas
Subs: Boffin, Cole, Spector, Kovac, Nouble, Reid, Gabbidon, Faubert, Barrera, Spence, Boa Morte
Tactically, I’d start the young hungry ones like Sears, Stanislas and Hines and see what they can do in the front, while the old hands cover the back (Upson, Bridge, Jacobsen – if he’s fit – and the very seasoned youngster, Tomkins). Then if things go our way, keep em on through the half and change them out only if necessary. If needed the change should mirror the Arsenal 4-2-3-1 with Parker and Noble sliding back, bringing on Cole for Piquionne up front, Spector (in the middle but behind Cole) for Hines, and LBM, who will play out to the left for Stanislas. We can slow down the pace in the second half if the youngsters do their job and get us out in front in the beginning.
No one expects us to get a GOAL in this game, let alone a point, but this might be the opportunity we need to build some confidence in the young bucks.
Arsenal is going to be a pain in every last corner of the pitch most likely putting out the front trio of Nasri, Van Persie and Walcott, who frankly had a MARE this week. The middle triangle of Wilshere, Fabregas and Song are going to have poor Scotty Parker running in circles all day and the back four featuring Koscielny and Eboue who both sent their less talented evil twins to the cup game will have something to prove at the weekend. If we can get by the front six, the easiest ways seem to be right down the lines since Song and Wilshere tend to play too center, we’ll have a chance at beating the slower Eboue/Djourou team or drawing a penalty or free kick from the careless Clichy/Koscielny side. Either way we’re going to have to work our “arses” off to get a point out of them.