Déjà vu anyone? For the second time within the space of a few days West Ham have gone away from home, put in a really impressive performance and yet just come up short of the victory their display merited.
Now of course this is frustrating as we should already be in the fourth round of the FA Cup and we should have seen of the Swans…but with an eye on the bigger picture, the fact that we’re now going away from home, taking the game to the opposition and feeling frustrated at draws at Goodison and the Liberty; shows yet again how far we’ve come this season.
The decision in both games to shut up shop whilst 1-0 up has been met with howls of derision; 1-0 is a tricky score-line; if you push on to try and get that 2nd you can easily get caught out on the counter, if you sit back and try to protect what you have; you can easily invite too much pressure. It’s not as simple to say if we’d adopted a more attacking approach whilst in the lead, we would’ve won both games.
The harsh reality is in both fixtures we switched off for just one moment and in both cases Bafetimbi Gomis and our own personal nemesis Romelu Lukaku punished us; that’s all strikers of their quality need, a solitary moment. But in both games even when we did declare ‘what we have we’ll hold’ it’s not like Adrian’s goal was being peppered from all angles. In both fixtures we were in relative comfort and had it not been for individual errors, we would’ve seen out both games and been rewarded for fantastic performances.
It’s now five games without a win (in league and cup) our longest period of the season and because we’ve now slipped from the dizzying heights of 4th to 7th its easy to think our season is now on the slide; however the last two performances certainly suggest that we’re not too far from returning to winning ways.
The replay against Everton now takes on huge significance, we’ve proven that we can give anyone a game this season and with all due respect to Doncaster Rovers/Bristol City the winner of our replay with the Toffees will fancy themselves to get into the fifth round. And if the draw beyond that is relatively kind; we’d really start fancying our chances of reaching Wembley’s hallowed turf.
Admittedly expectations have risen this season and rightly so, we’ve improved dramatically and the sides usually in the scrap for fourth have either stagnated or gotten worse. We can be rightly proud that for a pittance spent in comparison to the likes of Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal we’ve significantly closed the quality gap. Those expectations and lord knows I’ve championed them are just hitting the buffers a little at the moment; but by no means should that undermine the colossal strides that have been made this season.