Sam Allardyce says he has never been through such a bedeviling transfer period. Clearly, he wasn’t the only Premier League manager with difficulty in filling January needs, but for whatever reason, importing players to Upton Park seemed a bridge especially too far.
Allardyce wrote in a newspaper column just before the final deadline: “The transfer window is in its final throes and I would say we’ve looked at 100 possible deals this month. … I can’t remember ever negotiating as many deals in a transfer window and, if you look across the board, it has been the same throughout the Premier League.”
The late acquisitions of Italian internationals Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino helped ease some of the transfer window frustration. Some of it – there is still clearly a big fight ahead in Allardyce’s bid to avoid relegation.
Marco Borriello (Roma, loan), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan, loan), Jaanai Gordon (Peterborough, $5.7m), Roger Johnson (Wolves, loan), Abdul Razak (Anzhi Makhachkala, loan), Pablo Armero (Napoli, loan).
Blair Turgott (Rotherham, loan), Paul MCallum (Hearts, loan), Jordan Spence (MK Dons, loan), Modibo Maiga (QPR, loan), George Moncur (Partick Thistle, loan), Mladen Petric (released), Razvan Rat (released).
Borriello, 31, has seven caps for Italy. No, that’s not exactly Paolo Rossi as Azzurri all-time strikers go, but he’s got something. Having scored once in 11 Roma appearances this year, a change of address can’t hurt, and maybe can find some of the 2008 form, when Borriello flirted with the Italian Serie A scoring leadership.
At the very least, he provides some cover for the inconsistent and unreliable Andy Carroll.
Nocerino (pictured above, in the middle), 28, has 15 caps for Italy, most prominently as a member of the country’s European Championships team from 2012. While he’s not completely useless, he had become surplus around AC Milan, even more so now Michael Essien’s arrival from Chelsea. It’s fair to ask if a midfielder in such poor from around the San Siro is the man who can help the Hammers dodge relegation?
Marouane Chamakh’s goal near the end of the first half gave Crystal Palace their third win of the season, the Eagles’ 1-0 victory over West Ham United at Selhurst Park vaulting the club out of the cellar Premier League cellar, giving the team their first victory of the Tony Pulis era.
After the second game of their new manager’s reign, Palace temporarily climbs above Sunderland and into 19th place, with the Black Cats hosting Chelsea tomorrow. West Ham, coming off a 3-0 weekend win over Fulham, stay 15th, having won once in their last seven league games.
The Hammers nearly drew first blood on Tuesday, with a Carlton Cole ball sent through the six-yard box from the left of goal in the 36th minute skipping over Stewart Downing’s foot in front of a vacated right post. With a shot from Kevin Nolan having drawing a save from Julian Speroni five minutes earlier, the visitors to be breaking through the match’s early feeling out period and building toward an opening goal.
It was Crystal Palace, however, who’d distinguish themselves before halftime, with Chamakh’s second goal of the season giving the home side a lead at the break. Against a club when he spent an ill-fated loan spell with last year, the target man converted on a 42nd minute corner, Barry Bannan’s floated cross after a ball playing short allowing the former Arsenal striker to carve out room between himself and Nolan. Heading down and into the left of goal, Chamakh sent his team into intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second, Crystal Palace nearly doubled their lead, with chances from James Puncheon and Cameron Jerome testing Jussi Jaaskelainen’s ability to keep his team within one. At full stretch to his right post, the Finnish goalkeeper denied Puncheon from 14 yards in the 51st minute, pushing the ball out for a corner. Moments later, Mile Jedinak headed Cameron Jerome past an out-of-position James Collins and in on goal. Bursting off his line, Jaaskelainen blocked the former Stoke striker’s chance to double his new team’s lead, keeping the visitors within reach.
Five minutes later, with the field starting to tilt toward West Ham’s goal, Sam Allardyce changed things up, bringing on Modibo Maiga and Joe Cole for Carlton Cole and Noble. Soon injury forced Tony Pulis into his first change, bringing on Jimmy Kébé for James Puncheon in the 66th minute. As the game entered it final 20 minutes, Crystal Palace begun holding out, conceding the bulk of the match’s possession to the Hammers.
As the second half wore down, the fresh legs of Stuart O’Keefe and Jonathan Williams gave Palace a way out of their own end, with Kébé nearly finding an insurance goal after turning on a shot toward an open goal from 17 yards out. But rushed by a small, desperate swarm of Hammers defenders, the Eagles’ attacker shot over the cross-bar, giving fans at Selhurst Park a few more moments’ doubt.
Ninety seconds later, Lee Mason’s window calmed their concerns. With their second win in three games, Palace has climbed out of last place, Tony Pulis giving his new club’s supporters reason to their team can move on from the season’s tough start.
Crystal Palace: Marouane Chamakh 42
Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni; Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey; James Puncheon (Jimmy Kébé 66), Mile Jedinak, Kagiso Dikgocoi, Barry Bannan (Stuart O’Keefe 82); Marouane Chamakh (Jonathan Williams 85), Cameron Jerome
Unused Substitutes: Lewis Price, Adrian Mariappa, Dwight Gayle, Kevin Phillips
West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen; Joey O’Brien, James Collins, James Tomkins, Razvan Rat (George McCartney 78);Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan (Joe Cole 58), Ravel Morrison, Stewart Downing, Mohamed Diame; Carlton Cole (Modibo Maiga 58).
UnusedSubstitutes: Adrian, Matthew Jarvis, Guy Demel, Jack Collison
Watch Live: Crystal Palace vs. West Ham United (Lineups and Discuss)
Last year this would have been a throw back to the old days in England, Tony Pulis’s dogged pragmatism against the blunt efficacy of Sam Allardyce’s approach. Now? Allardyce’s West Ham have at times played without a traditional striker, while Pulis is in his second game at a new job. The core of each man’s soccer ethos may be unchanged, but was may be in for some surprises today at Selhurst Park.
That’s where Crystal Palace, still entrenched at the bottom of the Premier League, will welcome the Hammers to start the league’s mid-week match day. With nine matches scheduled tomorrow, today’s meeting between London clubs serves as the appetizer for the league’s 14th round of action, and although we’re still likely to see a physical, direct, cagey affair battle between teams set up by two blunt bosses, the importance of three points between two lower-table teams should make for a spirited match.
Today’s game is available live on NBC Sports Live Extra, with festivities set to kick off in Croydon at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Crystal Palace: Julian Speroni; Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney, Dean Moxey; James Puncheon, Mile Jedinak, Kagiso Dikgocoi, Barry Bannan; Marouane Chamakh, Cameron Jerome
Substitutes: Lewis Price, Adrian Mariappa, Stuart O’Keefe, Jonathan Williams, Jimmy Kebe, Dwight Gayle, Kevin Phillips
West Ham United: Jussi Jaaskelainen; Joey O’Brien, James Collins, James Tomkins, Razvan Rat; Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Ravel Morrison, Stewart Downing, Mohamed Diame; Carlton Cole.
Substitutes: Adrian, George McCartney, Matthew Jarvis, Modibo Maiga, Guy Demel, Joe Cole, James Collison
This is the 100th game between the two teams, Chelsea have the edge (w44, D18, L37)
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 6 London derbies in the PL (W4, D2)
West Ham have failed to score in six of their 11 PL games this season
A raucous crowd will be present as these two old London foes square off in East London on a chilly Saturday night. This won’t be one for the faint-hearted.
West Ham host Chelsea (Watch live on NBC 12:30pm ET and online via NBC Sports Live Extra) at Upton Park in desperate need of a win and some goals. Last year they managed to upset the Blues but a dreadful run of just one win since the opening day of the season sees the Hammers flirting with the relegation zone. They have hastily signed forwards Carlton Cole and Mladen Petric to play up front with record signing Andy Carroll no nearer to a return to fitness and goals have been a massive issue with just nine scored so far.
Times are tough at Upton Park.
As for Chelsea and Jose Mourinho, life hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses this season as his side grabbed a last-gasp equalizer courtesy of a controversial penalty last time out against West Brom. Mourinho is still rotating his squad and Big Sam would love take on board some of the players the ‘Special One’ is casting aside.
This game will be rough and ready and Frank Lampard is sure to get plenty of abuse as he returns to the club he came through the academy but left when the big money of Chelsea came calling. the 34-year-old midfielder has scored three goals in his last four PL games against West Ham but is currently on his longest scoreless streak in the league for over 10 years as he’s gone 10 games without a goal.
The Blues need Lampard and skipper John Terry to stand up and be counted as a feisty atmosphere awaits in East London.
Team news and as we mentioned West Ham have several worries, with Winston Reid out long-term, Razvan Rat a doubt with a hamstring injury and Carroll missing. However Joey O’Brien and James Collins should return.
Chelsea’s Fernando Torres won’t be risked as he recovers from an adductor injury but Ashely Cole will play despite a recurrence of a rib injury.
What they’re saying
Jose Mourinho on West Ham being a difficult place to play: ‘They [West Ham] are defensive and they give difficult matches to the big teams. That’s why everybody is losing points, why no team is dominant, why everybody is losing points but keeping in contact at the top of the table. That’s why this league has emotion every weekend, so I’m expecting a very difficult match.”
West Ham defender James Tomkins on the game plan vs. Chelsea: “We beat Spurs at their place and if we beat Chelsea it would give us a big boost. We’re all confident going into the game, there’s still a good atmosphere around the place and we’re looking forward to it. They’re conceding goals and when we counter attacked against Tottenham it worked for us. That seems to suit our play with our system at the moment and if we can frustrate them and keep it goalless at half time, we feel that we’re likely to get a goal.”
This week West Ham unveiled pictures of what their new sparkling home at London’s Olympic Stadium will look like when the transformation is complete in a few years… but it will be no good to them in the Championship. If they keep playing like they are and refuse to play any recognized strikers then a relegation scrap could be on for Big Sam and his side. I expect Chelsea to stroll into Upton Park and grab all three points with ease. But how many times have we said Mourinho’s team would win easy this season, then they haven’t? It will be a tight, nasty and chippy game but I’m going for a Chelsea win.
Norwich City completed a remarkable second half turnaround as they beat West Ham United 3-1 at Carrow Road.
Trailing at the break after Ravel Morrison’s opener for West Ham, the Canaries surged back in the second half to seal their first win since September as Gary Hooper slammed home a penalty to equalize, Robert Snodgrass’ curled in a free kick and Leroy Fer bagged his first Norwich goal with a cool finish late on.
The victory was much-needed for Norwich boss Chris Hughton who’s been under intense pressure after the Canaries poor run of form saw them slip into the relegation zone, while West Ham’s struggles continue as they once again played without a recognized striker due to their injury woes.
With the win Norwich climb above West Ham into 14th with 12 points from 11 games, the Hammers sit one place and one point behind the Canaries.
Early on the home crowd were lively but their team failed to get a grasp on the game and looked shaky at the back as West Ham dominated possession.
In the 11th minute of the match the Hammers sprang into life as first Morrison slotted in Kevin Nolan whose shot was well-saved by John Ruddy. Moments later a cross was whipped over to the back post and Stewart Downing’s shot was well blocked and the ball was cleared for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece Guy Demel lost his marker as smashed a header against the crossbar. So close for the Hammers.
Moans and groans started to ring out from the home crowd as West Ham pressed high up the pitch and Norwich gave the ball away cheaply on several occasions.
In the 17th minute Norwich surged forward down the right as Gary Hooper’s inviting cross was knocked away by the Hammers as they set up shop to defend.
Just past the midway point of the first half Razvan Rat’s cross from the left-wing found Nolan unmarked and the Hammers captain direct his shot goal wards but Ruddy saved easily down low.
Moments later Nolan turned provider as West Ham went ahead through Morrison’s third Premier League goal of the season. A break down the left saw Rat’s cross find Nolan, and after his initial effort was saved he got to the byline and slotted the ball perfectly into Morrison’s path who put the Hammers 1-0 up.
For the rest of the first half West Ham looked more likely to add to their tally, but Norwich hung on to go in just 1-0 down at the break.
The Canaries looked more composed after the break and in the 53rd minute a looping ball forward was dropped by West Ham ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and as he struggled to get back possession of the ball amongst a crowded box he tripped Norwich striker Gary Hooper and referee Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot.
Hooper stepped up and smashed the penalty kick straight down the middle to score his first Premier League goal and get the Canaries back on level terms.
But moments later James Collins fired a snapshot just wide of the right hand post as the Hammers almost went straight back ahead.
In the 70th minute Jonny Howson went incredibly close to taking the lead as his viciously dipping long-range effort smashed off the crossbar and there was a foul as the ball looped back into play and the Canaries were awarded a free kick 25-yards out.
And it was from the set-piece that Norwich went ahead as Scottish international Snodgrass curled in a delightful effort over the West Ham wall and into the top corner to send Carrow Road into delirium. The Scottish winger was returning to action after being knocked out and concussed in the recent League Cup defeat at Manchester United, and he showed exactly what he could do with the fantastic finish from distance.
Late on the game opened up as the Hammers tried to force an equalizer with Carlton Cole thrown on to create havoc, but it was Norwich who looked most likely too add to their lead as Hooper and Nathan Redmond proved dangerous on the break.
And the Canaries did extend their lead with almost the last kick of the game, as Fer won a great challenge against James Tomkins, surged forward and then smashed the ball home to send Carrow Road into raptures.