The fixture list again deals us opponents from the bottom three. A significant improvement against the Hammers is a must if Fulham are to break that away hoodoo. Our history at Upton Park is not great.
Last week the portents ahead of Everton's arrival at the Cottage were all good, but we failed to deliver and probably should have lost. In modern times we've managed to beat the Hammers just twice in the Prem. Over a period where our East London rivals have often struggled, including relegation, we have only last May's victory at the Cottage and our encounter from November 2001 at their place to reflect upon with satisfaction.
In 2001 goals from Legwinski and Malbranque were the difference. Maybe we need some more French players back in the ranks? West Ham have a few, including striker Piquionne, who will need watching. Ironically, he's keeping Carlton Cole out of the side, who has the taste for scoring against us. Let's hope he doesn't get on the pitch.
The Hammers faltering start to the season had much to do with collective panic at the back and on-going uncertainty from Robert Green (now a folk hero to our USA followers). Among their 4 defeats to date have been Man U and Chelsea, but they look to have turned a corner with no defeats in three, starting with a battling draw at Stoke (why can't we do that?), a win at Sunderland in the Carling Cup and then a victory to relish last week over Spurs.
Enough of our opponents. I was reminded this week watching Liverpool on the back foot throughout at Utrecht how intrinsic confidence out on the pitch is to a performance. Fernando Torres at present has none whatsoever. Torres is clearly a brilliant striker, but the genie has fled the bottle for the moment. It was only two seasons ago we witnessed the same lack of composure and self belief for a prolonged spell from our own 'Bobby Dazzler,' lashing shots wildly into the crowd while too scared to take on his man.
Victory at Upton Park requires a re-think in how we set up the team. A strong start from the Whites would make a welcome departure from recent games. West Ham may feel they have the wind in their sails but to my mind they remain brittle at the back. It won't take much to get the crowd on their case and see them revert to type. Hughes must I feel gamble and send out a team to dictate play. This is one side - apart from Parker - who should not be capable of bullying us out of our stride.
Word is we may be going with Dio Kamara and EJ up front. I think that's a big ask of two players not known for their ruthless finishing in recent times. Paramount is more guile and craft from midfield. Can we accommodate Dempsey and Gera wide here to pull the Hammers defence apart and serve the front two, both of whom do not lack for pace? Neither Davies nor Duff are providing any penetration at the moment.
This should be our last fixture before we welcome AJ and Moussa back into the mix. As with our trip to Blackburn I'd settle for another draw to maintain the unbeaten start, but an all-round more vibrant team showing is just as important. How sweet would it be to finally get that away win - at the 22nd attempt - off the Hammers.
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