Last weekend’s game against Liverpool has brought us down to earth with a bump yet again. As always, we fans thought we just had to turn up to win this game but as we have become accustom to, the team gave us a reality check. This season so far, we have failed to win back-to-back games and it is clear the team is far from being the finished article.
We now rely heavily on Diame. This was apparent in the Liverpool game because as soon as he went off injured, the whole complexion of the game changed. From being an attacking force, we regressed into our defensive shell letting Liverpool off the hook, allowing them to take the initiative.
Carlton Cole played well today but he does not have the same relationship with Kevin Nolan as Andy Carroll does. It seems Kevin Nolan is missing Carroll, as he has not scored in the last two home games.  Prior to this spell, Nolan was scoring for fun. Now his goals have dried up, the forwards need to start scoring.
The defeat against Liverpool means we slipped into the bottom half of the table and between now and the end of December we have some very tricky games, which, if we are not careful, will see us slip further down the table. In a previous article, “Can We survive? that I wrote back in October, I stated we needed to end the year with 27 points to ensure we are on track for safety. We presently stand at the crossroads with 22 points and our fate could go either way as we still have a series of very tough games between now and the year-end. At the end of this period, we will know how good we really are.
To progress and to ensure we avoid the drop, Sam Allardyce needs to strengthen the team in the transfer window. Somehow, we need to buy a striker that scores goals and competition for both fullback positions. Investing wisely in the transfer market could be the difference between survival and finishing in the top half of the table; maybe a Europa League spot.
The win over Chelsea gave us the ideal opportunity to gain back-to-back wins for the first time this season and we blew it. Instead of coming out and attacking Liverpool from the start we allowed them to play as if they were the home team. We were on the back foot for the first twenty minutes, we hardly got a touch of the ball and when we did, we gave it away too easily.
Thankfully, the Liverpool goal spurred us into action. Diame woke up and started to dominate midfield; he was a colossus. Stephen Gerrard’s own goal after a sustained period of pressure by West Ham just before the interval sent the home fans wild with delight. At last, payback time for the 2006 FA Cup Final equaliser. We entered the break 2-1 up and there was only going to be one winner – or so we all thought.
The second half saw us pick up where we left off. We pinned Liverpool back for long periods of the second half. Then fate struck a cruel blow in the seventy-third minute when Diame was stretchered off the pitch. This injury to our key player changed the dynamics of the game and the rest is history. Joe Cole scored a great goal for Liverpool and James Collins put the ball into his own net under pressure from the opposition.
In the coming week, Allardyce needs to assess the situation and ensure we do not nosedive as we have four very tough games between now and the end of the year. We play West Brom, Arsenal and Reading away, and Everton at home. At the moment it is hard to see where the next point will come from. To make matters worse, we must play these games without our talisman – Mohamed Diame.
As the title says, the moment of truth is nigh.