Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lazy Sunday, with a liveblog assist

You thinking what I'm thinking?

Spartak London!

Man, it's happening.

Not much on the slate today, although the last time we said that we got Villa v. Everton, so low volume doesn't mean low quality. Juventus and Milan square off with second place at stake for one (or both with a draw). Similarly Villarreal can jump into second in La Liga with a win over fourth place Sevilla.

Newcastle is about to finish off Portsmouth and, as I type this, Chievo Verona pulls one back from Inter. And because we're the only people checking the scores, Yasuhito Endo's 23rd minute goal held up as Gamba Osaka topped United in the Club World Cup (and a rematch of the AFC Champions League final). Unfortunately it was only Adelaide United. Without looking at anything for reference we think that leaves Osaka, Pachuca, Quito and Manchester United.

Play along in the comments if you have no life. Not judging. We apparently don't either (especially as we're about to liveblog this thing, courtesy of LB. Sad git).

Yep, why not join the game 25 minutes in to liveblog the festivities? Spartak have looked good thus far, but Upson, Noble and Parker are more than up for the task. Heck, just two weeks ago they had to contain the might and fury of Steven Gerrard, so dealing with Lampard, Deco and Ballack should be no big thing.

With Mike Riley as ref, you can be assured of controversy. This is shaping up quite well thus far.

Spartak London: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Mikel, Deco, Ballack, Lampard, Joe Cole, Anelka.
Subs: Hilario, Ivanovic, Drogba, Bridge, Ferreira, Kalou, Belletti.

West Ham: Green, Neill, Upson, Davenport, Ilunga, Collison, Parker, Noble, Behrami, Bellamy, Cole.
Subs: Lastuvka, Boa Morte, Mullins, Faubert, Tristan, Di Michele, Sears.

27 mins: Another attack from Spartak ends up with a corner off Ilunga. Spartak's passing has been sharp, but the tackling in the middle from the Hammers is ferocious. Lamps tries a shot from 30 yards, but it's resoundingly blocked and deflected out for a throw. Ball comes in again and Upson clears their lines.

Zola did get a good reception at the beginning. One wonders if they'll be as warm to him at the end if the result is anything other than a Spartak win.

Andy Gray does point out that for all the possession and build-up, Spartak haven't had a clear shot on goal yet. For half an hour in, the Hammers must be ecstatic.

30 mins: Ilunga gets a sniff of space in the Spartak box, and Joe Cole tracks back to knock it out for a corner. It's boomed in but easily cleared by Ashley Cole. A bit of ping-pong in the midfield sees the ball lumped forward to Noble, but he's 5 yards offside.

31 mins: Bright first half-hour for both sides. West Ham are finding some confidence in midfield, and Ilunga the volleyball specialist (see: last three weeks) has found some room out on the left. Some neat interplay between Deco and Anelka breaks to Bosingwa on the right wing. His trickery under pressure from Behrami finds Joe Cole in the middle, but they can't get a shot off.

Bosingwa has a crack from 30 yards but it drifts wide of the post. West Ham breathe again, and Green takes the goal-kick.

33 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL at the Shed End, and Chelsea's legion start hounding Mike Riley. Terry is first out there -- an innocuous throw-in on the left comes to Noble, who shoulders it down on the touchline and feeds Bellamy at the edge of the 6-yard box. He chests it down and thumps it low to Cech's right and just inside the near post. Chelsea appeal for two handballs, but upon replay, neither was illegal. Spartak London 0, West Ham 1

36 mins: How will the Blues respond? Plenty of midfield possession and the Hammers are continuing to throw two men at any Spartak player who has the ball. This is shaping up to be a frustrating afternoon for the home side, especially as Ashley Cole leaps two-footed at Scott Parker as he's clearing the ball. Yellow card for Ashley, and another breather for the Hammers. Less than 10 minutes to half-time.

38 mins: Bellamy has really started to look dangerous over the last month. His hard work wins a corner. Spartak clear it and try to break, but the Hammers get 9 behind the ball and advantage lost. Davenport clears a deep cross from Bosingwa, and the Hammers defense looks strong.

40 mins: Carlton Cole (the third Cole on the pitch at the moment) gets booked, and the free-kick is headed over by Ballack. Drogba's warming up already...

To answer your question, Spectator, yes, Scolari was in hospital with kidney stones yesterday, although one must think that watching ones team struggle at home to the Hammers and being a goal down against the run of play is far more painful than passing calcium deposits through ones urethra.

42 mins: The pressure continues... deep cross again from the right side that brings Green out to punch it clear. West Ham break but Cole coughs it up and Spartak surge forward again. Real end-to-end stuff at the moment. Joe Cole gets a yard of space cutting in from the left, but his scuffed shot is always heading wide of the post. A break again, and Green hoofs the ball well downfield.

45 mins: The crowd is getting a touch restless. I'd expect Didier to come on to start the second half.

Slight chance for Spartak: a couple of blocked shots break to Anelka who tries a shot from the top of the box, but Upson and Davenport throw themselves in the way, taking the sting off it and Green collects safely.

Bellamy ends up in the book for a trip, and Chelsea's latest romp down the left wing ends up safely in Green's hands again.

HALF TIME: Spartak London 0, West Ham 1
Boos from the crowd as he blows the whistle. Bellamy gets in Riley's grill as they trudge off, moaning about his yellow card, and Lucas Neill diffuses the celebration.

What will Big Phil do in the dressing room? Surely Didier on immediately... any other changes? They've looked rather timid moving forward -- tons of possession, but no real shots on goal. Troubling for Autoglass and Scolari. They need points, especially as everyone else dropped 'em yesterday.

Don't forget to stay tuned at 1pm as Sven liveblogs the NCAA Men's Final (and fulfills our US Soccer content for another month in the process. I kid, I kid.)
Drogba on for Ballack. He receives some mild applause as he enters the fray, and it looks like Spartak are going to play a 4-3-3 with Joe Cole playing forward with Didier and Nicolas.

47 mins: My feed is skipping a bit, but the stage is set for a solid 2nd half. The Hammers will likely park the bus, and it's up to Spartak to force a way through. Wouldn't fancy it on the strength of Neill, Upson and Davenport back there, who have been positively epic for West Ham of late. A Spartak corner is headed clear by Carlton Cole, and West Ham try and break. Lampard breaks it up, and the attack begins again.

49 mins: Spartak are passing quickly, but not accurately, and the Hammers break again. Behrami finds Noble, who ends up slowing things down and Collison will just enjoy a game of passing with Upson and get it back to Robert Green. I smell a sending-off in the second half...

51 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL... and I'm sad to report it's Spartak. Anelka is all smiles as Drogba finds Lampard, whose sublime flick frees Anelka to slot it home. We're set for a pulsating 40 minutes... Spartak 1, West Ham 1

55 mins: The crowd is in full song (sorry for being vague, the video is skipping), but West Ham are still finding space moving forward. There are more goals in this one. Spartak open up West Ham down the middle and it needs a last-second tackle to stop Joe Cole. Spartak attack again, and a poor clearing header breaks to Lampard whose half-volley ends up in Green's arms. Didier's presence has completely turned the game around, and in just 10 minutes!

58 mins: Bit of tension as Drogba tumbles to the floor clutching his knee, West Ham don't kick the ball out so he can get treatment, then Spartak break and shoot from which West Ham break again, and NOW Scolari gets aggressive in begging for the Hammers to kick it out. You can't attack and then ask the other team to be sporting. Lampard wellies it miles wide of goal from 30 yards and Didier finally gets the magic spray.

59 mins: Lots of room in the midfield for both teams now. Lampard advances and shoots from 25 yards, blocked easily, and the Hammers manage to get it away. More goals imminent, surely.

60 mins: It's all Spartak now. Bosingwa's had four or five crosses in the last 60 seconds, and West Ham are having troubling getting the ball over the halfway line. It's like watching a hockey team play with a man up, knocking the ball around and dictating play. Joe Cole cuts inside Ilunga and Parker has to lunge in and knock the ball out for a corner. It's easily cleared by Upson and West Ham will try and retain possession for more than 15 seconds.

62 mins: Spartak surge again, but that pairing of Noble and Parker aren't worn out just yet. Don't forget to attack, Zola!

64 mins: Scrappy in the midfield and the tackles are coming in thick and fast. Lampard fouls Noble, only for Parker to return the favour. Spartak move forward again. Lampard and Deco link up, but Deco's pass wide to Bosingwa is easily intercepted by Noble.

66 mins: Lamps has a crack from 25 yards, swerving and bouncing in front of Green, but he manages to collect on the rebound. Bellamy breaks but gives it up easily, and now Spartak break. Drogba looks for Anelka but can't get through Lucas Neill. A breather for the Hammers, who get down the left-wing with Ilunga. His cross drifts harmlessly wide for a goal kick.

67 mins: Free-kick for Spartak is floated in. Alex flicks it back into the box, it's half-cleared, and Alex's shot is deflected out for a corner. Lamps swings it in to Drogba, whose volley is well-saved at the near post. Lucas Neill was Drogba's marker, but fell asleep on the job. Deco gets a shot that ends up deflected over for another corner. West Ham try and break through Bellamy.

69 mins: Trouble for Carlton Cole, who bundles Alex down and has a poke at John Terry who is all over him from the ground. Riley calls him over, but no second yellow. He remains on for now.

70 mins: West Ham are still happy to attack, which is good for the entertainment value and good for Spartak on the break. Collison's cross is headed clear, but nothing comes at the other end. Carlton Cole eludes four tackles to spring Bellamy free on the left, and his speculative cross/shot ends up well wide. Still, they're not parking the bus. 20 minutes left. A draw seems like a fair result thus far. The Drogba effect has calmed down, and the last 5 minutes has been all Hammers.

First sub for WHU: Hayden Mullins on, Mark Noble off. One tough tackler for another, and Noble's just coming back from injury.

73 mins: Both sides are cooling off somewhat after the frantic opening to the 2nd half. West Ham attack again, but like Spartak, their final pass is rather woeful.

Deco's deflected shot ends up in Green's hands under pressure from Ashley Cole.

Sub for Chelsea: Joe Cole off, Salomon Kalou on.

77 mins: The crowd is in full voice, but the game is winding down a little. Terry and Bellamy get into a ballyhoo at the Spartak end, and they're still arguing with one another. I pray for a full-on fist fight.

79 mins: More Spartak pressure: Deco wins a corner, Green almost blunders on the corner and forces Parker to leap and head off the line, and then Green saves beautifully from Drogba's shot. Panic averted as Spartak give away a free kick.

Another Chelsea sub: Mikel off, Belletti on. Are they hoping for another 35-yard wonder goal from the defensive midfielder?

80 mins: Can the Hammers hold? (My fucking video feed has frozen again... c'mon c'mon c'mon work, you bastard)

The Hammers surge forward again, and Bellamy's cross gets cleared by Terry, Belletti and Alex as Cole is all alone in the box. West Ham retain possession and whip in another cross from the right, but it's deflected behind for a corner.... Bellamy to take...

... it's easily cleared. A point would be fair for both sides at this point. 8 minutes left plus stoppage time.

84 mins: Kalou heads for goal from the edge of the box, and unsurprisingly, it ends up a mile wide.

85 mins: Bellamy won't stop running nor arguing. He's in some good form, but his speculative run down the left ends in a goal-kick, but not before the tiny Welshman yells at Cech and Alex for reasons we'll never know. As Andy Gray states: "he could start an argument in an empty house." Well played, Mr. Gray. Well played.

Sub for West Ham: Boa Morte on, Collison off.

90 mins + 1: Sorry, my feed went dead and I had to switch. Three minutes of stoppage time left and the Hammers come agonizingly close to a winner. Carlton Cole gets an inch between Alex and scuffs a shot goalbound, but Cech gets down to it low to his right and holds. Spartak break but Drogba can't handle the cross and Green collects. Nervous times for both sides right at the death. Two minutes left.

90 mins + 2: Lamps should have done better with his cross, as it ends up safely in Green's hands. Spartak throw everyone forward and each time, West Ham clear it right back down to Cech. Can they hold?

Spartak are peppering crosses into the box, but Upson and Neill are clearing everything.

Late time-sapping sub for the Hammers: Bellamy off, Di Michele on.

Green clears again and Upson brings it down the left wing. Surely that's it...

... Drogba has space but is blocked by Neill, and as West Ham jog back upfield, Riley blows the whistle.

FULL TIME: Spartak London 1, West Ham 1
A fair result for both sides, and a good result for those teams around Spartak in the EPL hunt. All the Big 4 drew this weekend; whoever said this league was predictable should amend their judgment now.

Stick around for the NCAA Men's Soccer Final, as liveblogged by Sven!


The NY Kid said...

3-0 to Newcastle is a little embarassing for Pompey, no?

Spectator said...

Yeah, that's pretty abysmal. West Ham are about to lose 12-0 the way this game has started. Hopefully they can settle and not give up an early goal.

England's Brave John Terry is limping, but he's tough and trying to walk it off. God save John Terry!

Spectator said...

Pompey with 20 shots, only 3 on goal. I guess Crouchy and Defoe were running into each other on the pitch today.

Precious Roy said...

I believe you mean 'John Terry save God.'

Fucking Inter had Crespo and Figo playing today. I wasn't sure that either was still in football.

Spectator said...

Yeah, I watched the end of the Inter match in time to see Ibrahimovic score twice. I also had no idea that Crespo or Figo were still playing, let alone sitting on the bench for Mourinho.

Precious Roy said...

Crespo looks like an extra from 'Caligula.'

Spectator said...

Ouch, did they just say that Scolari was in the hospital yesterday with kidney stones?

Spectator said...

Worse unibrow.... Bosingwa or Fellaini?

Spectator said...

Oh snap! Psycho puts West Ham up! No handball on Noble, it came off his chest, so stop whining Chelsea.

The NY Kid said...

someone check on Autoglass

jjf3 said...

and Bellamy scores to put Hammers up 1-0 at Chelski...of course

Precious Roy said...

Question: Why does Chelsea suddenly suck at home?

Please, no answers that might reverse this phenomenon.

Spectator said...

I think Autoglass's furnace broke... This might turn out to be a pretty shit day for him.

Spectator said...

Question: Why does Chelsea suddenly suck at home?

Answer: Scolari's kidney stones.

Precious Roy said...

Shit I didn't know about Hernan Crespo until just now: A) He's only 33. B) He was actually under contract with Chelsea until July of this year (loans to Meelan and Inter).

The NY Kid said...

does anyone else think that no one on the club actually likes Ballack.

Also, Mike Riley, king of the cards. He loves to go into his pocket.

jjf3 said...

my WAG on the Chelski home question - complete over-confidence in their home form, despite recent results. Before the WH goal, Terry very non-chalantly kicked a ball out for a throw-in that he very easily could have fought for and kicked back upfield looked like he couldn't be bothered to "waste his time" doing so...

Spectator said...

Yeah, Crespo had some ridiculous contract with Chelsea so he was loaned out, I'm sure with Chelsea still paying some of his salary. Seems like he's lost a step or 12 if he can't even manage to get a run in Serie A.

The way that Mike Riley is doling out yellow cards, there's going to be at least one red before this game is over.

Ian said...

Craig Bellamy working on the Gordie Howe hat trick today.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Spectator: West Ham need to make sure their double-team tackles don't end up with more yellows. The only way they're going to maintain this lead is by continuing to be physical at every opportunity to disrupt the forward progress. I know I'm not alone in hoping they can hold on.

Spectator said...

My fav Gordie Howe story... He and his wife were being interviewed on a local Detroit station. The sportscaster asks Gordie's wife if he still throws elbows like he used to. Without missing a beat, she says, "Only in bed."

Spectator said...

We need to do a ranking of the FSC commercials... My favorite is the PE09 one with Messi, even if it's on a million times a day. Least favorite are Proactiv and those dumb Levi's ones, oh and the Verizon "there's more" commercial. I'm ambivalent about Sylvania and World Soccer Shop, because at least they're footy related.

Precious Roy said...

Bring back Penny Talk.

"Guess wot? Eye'm engayged."

Lingering Bursitis said...

I'm lucky to be watching the Sky Sports feed. All 4 in the commentary box said no handball on either call.

Spectator said...

It so was not a handball. Terry was behind Noble when he complained, where by the way he was out of position to defend.

Drogba is on.

Andrew said...

The average age of Inter starters must be in the early thirties. Viera, Julio Cesar, Figo, Toldo, Materazzi . . . do they collect game checks or pensions?



The NY Kid said...

Anelka has been devastating this season. I really wish that Arsene had pursued him.

Spectator said...

Anelka equalizes, right through Green's legs -- it was a tough shot, but still could've done better.

Precious Roy said...

Uh, he did. From PSG to Arsenal is like 1998.

The NY Kid said...

@PR - I know that. I meant when he was leaving Bolton - Anelka had said that he would consider returning to Arsenal, but Wenger didn't do anything.

Precious Roy said...

Had no idea he was interested in going back to Arsenal. I'm guessing Arsene's lack of interest probably had something to do with the £15M price tag.

Mike Georger said...

Hey hey hey look who has a sponsor!

Spectator said...

Nice, Carlton Cole kicks EBJT in the balls and then sticks his finger right up his nose!

Spectator said...

@ Georger: the economic recovery is right around the corner!

The NY Kid said...

Anelka had mentioned that while he liked playing at Arsenal, he left because of the fans. So that, coupled with the price tag probably scared Wenger off. But Anelka is a mercenary, and I think he would have come back for the right money. We could have sold Bendtner and Denilson and had Anelka to pair with Adebayor up top!

Mike Georger said...

Wow horseshit call against Craigers.

Mike Georger said...

Robert Green looks like the Cash Cab host, and looks drunk.

Precious Roy said...

My bad... Was unaware of that re: Anelka.

Spectator said...

Robert Green sure does have an uncanny likeness to Jim Breuer

Spectator said...

Ha, I like yours better Georger

Mike Georger said...

What in the hell is your avatar? It looks like the mascot for the KKK.

Mike Georger said...

Argument in an empty house? More like ripping off 'riot in a graveyard'. Cock.

Spectator said...

@ Georger: It's Brighton & Hove Albion FC's mascot, the Shrimper!

The NY Kid said...

What a blatant dive by Fat Frank.

Mike Georger said...

"What a blatant dive by Fat Frank."

Thank you. I thought I was losing my mind, Andy was certain it was a penalty the whole time. He barely touched him!

Mike Georger said...


Spectator said...

Hurray the top 4 all draw!

Mike Georger said...


Thanks West Ham! I still love you Craigers; Riise had it coming I know the deal baby!

ü75 said...

another oddball weekend in the EPL with the Big 4 all drawing.

Well, onto the Coolege Cup final!

Spectator said...

And of course by "top 4," I mean the "top 3.5"

ü75 said...

Heh, "coolege". I am so smrt.