West Ham 2-0 Cardiff City
Well what a very solid way to kick-off our second successive campaign in the “best league in the world”! It wasn’t the most exciting of games; I’ll give you that; however I am delighted to have 3 points on the board and a clean-sheet in the bank. I was very concerned that after winning the Championship and having bundles of confidence that Cardiff’s belief and determination would see us crumble, so I was made up leaving the ground after a comfortable victory.
I must start off with thanking the Cardiff travelling fans for adding greatly to what was already an electric atmosphere, helped by the introduction of Billy Bonds 10 minutes before kick-off. There was plenty of banter flying between the two sets of supporters, some friendly…most not.
The starting line-up was largely as expected, except for the exclusion of Romanian captain and Champion’s League veteran Razvan Rat who failed to even make it off of the bench. It seems that Big Sam is determined to give last season’s starting eleven a chance to impress once more this season in reward for their superb performances last year. As I mentioned Razvan Rat didn’t play in the game and was replaced by the surprise package since signing two years ago: Joey O’Brien. New signing Stewart Downing began the match on the bench alongside young starlet Ravel Morrison.
The Premier League newcomers were very poor admittedly so it’s difficult to judge our defence too much based on that match alone. Jussi Jaaskelainen was barely tested the entire match, although he did have to contest with some rough and fairly aggressive attacking from set-pieces from Steven Caulker and Ben Turner. Former hammer, Craig Bellamy, struggled to get into the game as Kim Bo-Kyung scuppered a few chances to set the Welshman away. Peter Whittingham went the closest of any Cardiff player with a couple of free-kicks which never really threatened the net.
Man of the Match Joe Cole, who in contrast to Danny Welbeck midweek for England definitely deserved the award, was fantastic throughout. He showed a few glimpses of the Joe Cole of old with his close control getting us out of trouble at numerous stages and thoroughly deserved his well-taken goal.
I am very excited by the flair that our side is beginning to show. We very rarely hit long balls, even James Collins seemed composed on the ball instead of lumping it 70 yards at every opportunity. We played some intricate football and most of which came off as planned. With Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing we have pace, skill and bundles of crossing ability which makes me very happy to support the club.
Downing himself looked in quality form in the 15 minutes he played. He was taking players on and showing some real ability when it came to crossing the ball with both feet while also playing a part in Kevin Nolan’s goal.
After going an entire season without getting an assist, Matt Jarvis has now got one already this campaign; setting up Joe Cole with a run and low cross.
It was a fantastic start.
Bring on the rest of the season!
Ratings: Jaaskelainen(7), Demel(7), O’Brien(7), Collins(7), Reid(7), Diame(8), Noble(8), Nolan(7), Cole(8), Jarvis(7), Maiga(7).