Tony Cottee: We were punished for poor marking and allowing too many crosses into the box
PUBLISHED: 11:10 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:43 05 October 2010
I don't believe 4-1 was a fair scoreline against Chelsea, but we were punished for poor marking and allowing too many crosses into the box,"" says Tony Cottee
I don't believe 4-1 was a fair scoreline against Chelsea, but we were punished for poor marking and allowing too many crosses into the box.
The Blues are a quality side who can turn it on when they like and run away with a game. Sadly that is what happened in the second half at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Florent Malouda was exceptional all game and gave Jon Spector a torrid time on our right-hand side.
Our midfield was so narrow leaving the American isolated and he could not stop crosses being delivered into the box.
Chelsea players are intelligent and saw that Malouda had the beating of Spector so they kept feeding him the ball.
Cross after cross came in from the Frenchmen, who set up the first two goals up and then scored the third himself. That alone shows you how much of an impact he had.
It was disappointing because it was such an impressive first-half showing from West Ham and manager Gianfranco Zola would have been delighted to go in level at the break.
I was impressed with what I saw throughout the game from Matt Upson (pictured left) and he played Didier Drogba well.
It was always going to be a tough task and he was more than up for the physical battle.
Scott Parker was once again outstanding and completely outshone Frank Lampard in the middle, while his goal was a fantastic finish.
Zola played a new formation and put Mido as a lone striker and in the opening period it worked.
The Egyptian led the line well and was effective at holding the ball upand laying it off to teammates.
We have got four or five strikers and you do have to give them a go at some point and there is an argument to give them that opportunity in a match where you are not expected to get anything from the game.
I believe Zola will keep the same formation for the trip to Arsenal, but it will be interesting to see who he plays as the lone striker, whether he sticks with Mido, or goes back to Carlton Cole.
The Gunners are a different team to Chelsea and it is important that we don't stand off them, as they will pass the ball around and in the end, pick us off.
The best way to beat them is to get amongst them and to be competitive in the midfield.
People like Parker, Radoslav Kovac and Valon Behrami will have to disrupt the Arsenal rhythm and give everything to get the ball off them.
When they do have possession, we have to force them out wide. They don't play with much width and even if they do manage to get crosses into the box, Nicklas Bendtner is the only real aerial threat and I am confident Upson could handle him.
It is hard though when you come up against teams which are better than you.
In my career, during the 1980's it was Liverpool, while in the 90's it was Manchester United and you are not expected to get anything from those games.
Everyone has to play to their optimum and you also need that little bit of luck.
When I was at Leicester City we beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and I remember that they created so many chances against us, but they could just not score and we had one opportunity, put the ball in the net and won the game.
West Ham in 2007 had to repel something like 30 shots against Arsenal to win the game 1-0 and lets hope history can repeat itself this weekend.
Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola commented to the press after the game about how impressed he had been with Mido in training and how it was a factor in him being selected against Chelsea.
It's an interesting talking point about whether players should be picked for how they perform on the training pitch or not.
When I played, some of the best trainers were the worst players and vice versa, so it is not always the best way to pick a team and I'm not sure how much you can read into how someone does in training.
It is one thing training at Chadwell Heath and quite another playing in front of over 30,000 people.
It is a way to catch the managers eye though and Mido must have done that, so fair play to him for working hard.
The selection of Mido as a lone frontman was one of many changes Zola made from the Bolton defeat.
The boss has tinkered a lot with the team and you cannot blame him, because when you are down at the bottom you are desperate to find the formation and line-up to get you out of trouble.
You can go one of two ways after a defeat, send the same team out ask them to prove a point or make six or seven changes and hope they can make a difference.
It's a tough call and you can understand the decision, but let's hope that sooner rather then later he won't be forced into making quite so many changes, because good performances would force him to stick with the same 11.
Tony Cottee was talking to Matt Diner
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