Monday, August 18, 2008
Ten minutes into the Premier League season, Dean Ashton had made his presence felt - twice. West Ham United's 24 year old striker pumped up the bubble-blowing faithful at Upton Park 3 minutes into the season by scoring the Hammers' first goal, and then sent them into a frenzy 7 minutes later by scoring their second. What a start. I can only imagine what it must have felt like in the stadium when the lofty optimism he'd launched was abruptly grounded by the sight of him limping off the field in the second half. With Ljundberg having been released (probably because of age and recurring injuries) and Bellamy and Dyer sidelined with injuries, much of East London's hopes rest on the performance of Deano and Julien Faubert. Both have been injured for the majority of their brief tenures at West Ham, so to see Ashton limp out of a season opener that was still 2-1 at the time must have been pretty brutal. (On a personal level, the exit cost him a chance to get another cap with the England national team.) Fortunately, an MRI scan has confirmed that it was just a cramp and not something more serious. He'll be back in action Sunday at Manchester City. If there's any hope for the Hammer's season, we'll need Deano to stay on his feet.
Here's a look at the healthy Deano in action:
I don't have much for you in terms of a West Ham season preview. In addition to the aforementioned names, the roster will include most of the same names from last year, Zamora and Pantsil excluded, a few rookies and a couple international signings included. Look for solid play from youngsters Kyel Reid, Fred Sears, and James Tomkins and from Swiss defender Behrami, freshly signed from Lazio. Management is intent on cutting payroll so there may be a couple transfers out and probably won't be much coming in, intriguing Saha rumors notwithstanding. My hope is that a healthy Hammers squad will challenge to remain in the top half of the table.
Nor do I have much of an EPL season preview. (Can you throw down a "nor" clause to start a paragraph, referencing the first sentence of the previous paragraph? Doubtful.) I expect the Big Four to finish 1-2-3-4, probably Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal. Sorry Fuge, but the other 3 made themselves better, while the Gunners gave up my boy Hleb, Flamini, and Gilberto, and haven't replaced them with equal talent (to my knowledge).