In the News: Ferguson has returned to Old Trafford for the first time since his illness. Assou-Ekotto, remember the idiot with the tragic hair that used to play for Sp*rs? He is bashing Mbappe for not being African enough, Rodgers is bemoaning being manager of Celtic as if it is difficult. And Google Beghuis, Feyenoord, Dive if you want a laugh. Yes, it has been verily been a slow few days since our last match for the Press Plebs.
The Others: Bournemouth’s title challenge (I have a Bournemouth buddy with a £10k bet for them to do it) took a knock with an inexplicable thumping from Burnley, Chequebook Pulis gave us something new to laugh at, at the top end City and the Red Scouse turned over potential relegation fodder comfortably, like you’re supposed to.
Them: Arnautovic – hurrah. Injured.
Us: Pedro Pony misses out with his shoulder injury, Eden comes back in, and I doubt anyone would dispute at the moment that The Beard is Sarri’s preferred man up front.
West Ham are sh*t, but they have never, ever lost their first three home games in a season. So brace yourself. You knew what was coming…
“You’re not West Ham anymore” was the chant that greeted kick off. Five minutes in and they had more of the game, though they hadn’t fashioned anything meaningful out of it, trying to shoot from well outside the box but mostly failing to get that far. My favourite came on seven minutes when a perfectly weighted cross went out to Zabaleta and the donkey air kicked it and the ball bobbled out.
At the other end, Rudi rounded off a third shot on target for us as we passed the ten minute marker. We’d worked our way into the game by then, in fact we had begun to dominate it. Hazard had another shot shortly afterwards. The West Ham defenders looked like they were hanging out of their a*ses already, but we’d not yet really threatened Flappyhandski in the pikey goal, which obviously means we had achieved basically nothing.
On 22 minutes The Beard almost latched onto the end of a great ball, but he basically rolled over and fell on his facial hair, and if not for the fact that Antonio hit the ball like a complete bellend we would have been behind on the half hour. Alonso was totally caught out a few moments later and they were in again – well done Kepa for bailing us out that time. They had rallied, and looked wholly more likely to produce something going forward. We’d just stopped playing neat little balls into Willian and Hazard, which is what had been f*cking with them early on. A Kante header (no, not a typo) went wide on 44, but no cigar.
In the second half the weather had muchly improved, our chances not so much so. Pellegrino had managed to convince them they could have a go. And they were. Yarmalenko wearing his 90s tribute shirt – looked like he could get in it twice – put one over in the first five minutes. We made no further inroads into scoring, and Barkley and Morata were warming up.
It was 56 minutes before we saw anything really promising, but Willian’s ball across the goal found nobody in yellow in the box To everyone else, this fixture is a piece of piss. To us, never. We always manage to do something to a*se it up and in this case it was to do everything right in the build, to overdo it even, to put all the effort in and then crap out before we reached the climax. We could really have done with Pedro Pony, sitting on the bench waiting to come on today as we had been toothless so far. The Beard had been his usual unselfish self, but he was getting nothing go through to him.
We pulled our finger out on the hour mark. Once again we were dominating possession, but hadn’t fashioned anything of note in an hour against a team that are physically incapable of keeping a clean sheet. A joyful experience, this was not.
Morata on for for the beard. The Frenchman had been given nothing to work with, and looked justifiably pissed off about leaving the field with us level. Time for the Spaniard to step up. He could have had a goal with his first touch. And his second, if not for Flappyhandski. Rudiger had broken himself – in the groin possibly. Cahill was ripping his clothes off on the touchline at the thought of getting involved. Just in the week where he was publicly mooting the possibility of having to look for a new club.
15 minutes to go.
On 76 they should absolutely, 100% have been ahead. Yarmalenko managed to miss the whole goal when Kepa was rooted to the spot and head it wide. Excellent. Barkley was about to become sub number three. On for Kovacic. I’m going to do my best this week not to mention his ar… dammit. Failed already.
10 minutes to go
80 minutes gone and Willian was away, scampering down the let wing and leaving Zabaleta for dust, Kante was on the end of the cross but his shot was about 300ft high.
5 minutes to go
We’d scored in all four matches in the league after 80 minutes so far this season, so fear not, (she types, even though she was crapping herself) there was time yet. Some of which was wasted by Noble and his defiantly receding hairline sauntering off. Woe is us. Morata backheels it into the net on 88 but Kante was well offside before he played him the ball
Four minutes of injury time, which was more exciting than the rest of the game combined, during which Barkley forced a save out of them almost immediately. Cue Douglas Haig’s backs to the wall speech for the home side; hatches battened, fox holes dug – any other naval or military imagery you care to insert. Short relief when Declan Rice was dumb enough to go down with cramp. Off the pitch. Snodgrass tried to sever Willian’s legs, Hazard was in on 92 but it went straight to the keeper and another day out at the squattery usurped by that ‘orrible lot ended in disappointment.
Refwatch: Mike Dean, gloriously anonymous.
So: A demonstration of how we are very much still a work in progress under our new manager. Sarri is going to need at least 20 fags after this. Frustrating, but not the worst that has happened to us at theirs, and not the worst we will suffer this season. Still unbeaten. We’ll just have to go and beat the b*stards next Saturday to close the gap again. Ahem. Was Eden better or worse for having Thursday night off? Discuss. Just a mildly challenging week to look forward to.
Read other articles by Alex on her excellent blog.