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Last Updated: 02/04/13 at 21:19 Post Comment

Andy Carroll: Got the better of Baggies' defence on Saturday

Andy Carroll: Got the better of Baggies' defence on Saturday

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One match report I read on Saturday evening after I had journeyed back to the Midlands from London described our performance against West Ham as 'woeful'.

Perhaps that type of showing four or five years ago would have been expected, but our club is at a different level now. Even so, the adjective used was a tad on the harsh side.

Albion started the game well against the Hammers, who of course won't be entertaining at Upton Park for much longer.

Gareth McAuley had the ball in the net, only for a foul to be correctly given. And if it wasn't for Jussi Jaaskelainen's reflexes, Romelu Lukaku would have been celebrating his 14th goal of a prolific debut full season.

Mainly thanks to the telepathic partnership of McAuley and Jonas Olsson, Baggies fans have become accustomed to seeing less and less goals conceded from set pieces. Roy Hodgson implemented a sense of solidity and organisation defensively, a blueprint followed by current head Steve Clarke.

However, the sight of Andy Carroll towering above our big Swede to cannon a header past Ben Foster is something that we haven't been used to witnessing in recent seasons.

Carroll was fantastic on Saturday, showing glimpses of his successful time at boyhood club Newcastle, proving that when he's in the mood, very few can contain him.

The second and third goals were more disappointing. After a spell of attack, the Baggies were hit on the counter and Gary O'Neill took advantage by curling home to double the lead. For Carroll's second, he was able to find space among the whole of Albion's defence and volley home, albeit extremely well.

It would have been different if Lukaku, Billy Jones, Peter Odemwingie and Markus Rosenberg had in turn converted their chances. It wasn't to be, and we left the capital, yet again, empty handed.

I can accept the defeat, as a football fan it comes with the territory. But the petulance of one Youssouf Mulumbu, costing his club three games' worth of service for an action that came when the game was lost, was ridiculous.

I am huge fan of the Congolese midfielder, and the worriment he has caused for his manager and the fans as they comprehend the upcoming trio of matches without him is testimony to his importance to this team, but it's not the first time he has seen red and paid the price.

His marching orders soured the end of the day trip which, other than the result, was an enjoyable one. I must pay tribute to the West Ham fans who we spoke to and shared a drink with, a set of fans who by and large are prejudiced due to a well publicised minority who give the club a bad name.

I personally don't think its time to worry. Before Saturday, we had been beaten once in 5 matches, that being at Stamford Bridge. We have 44 points, and are on course for our highest points tally and league finish in the Premier League and, touch wood, it seems our days of bouncing between the nation's top two divisions are over.

It's the small matter of Arsenal next, as we look to preserve our fantastic home record this season, and I will be planning my trips to Southampton and Norwich in the coming weeks. Come on you Baggies!

By Joseph Chapman, FanZone's West Brom blogger. Don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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