Well after a tough run to start the second half of the season, Pardew has our lads back on the right foot. That's in spite of the adversity of loosing Andy Carroll and subsequently Shola Ameobi to injury. On Wednesday those injuries gave way to one Leon Best, who was told by Pardew before the match to show something to convince the manager to keep him around instead of shopping him around during this transfer window. I shouldn't have to convince you to agree that he did that and much more.
Best and Lovenkrands made a dynamic duo on Sunday with Best benefacting the most in the form of a hattrick completed in the 60th minute. Best is for sure the story of this game, but one of the subnotes has to be a return to better form for Peter Lovenkrands who hasn't seen much action at all this season. He and Best worked the West Ham defence like a pair of strikers that had been playing together for years, and perhaps through what we'd supposed was bad luck we've found a bit of good in the apparently strong chemistry between the two. At the very least it will have me worrying less about how we'll be able to score when Andy Carroll isn't on the pitch.
But, as I said, Best is the story of the game with three very smart looking goals, and in only his first ever start in the premier league. That third goal especially showed the poise of a veteran; you might expect a young player (best is 24) to get shoot early there and hope for good things, but best had the wherewithal to settle it down and pick a spot that the keeper would have had to be playing out of his mind to save.
I also shouldn't have to do any convincing (even of West Ham fans) to say that NUFC outplayed the Hammers in every department of gameplay from the keeper forward. Though Harper was barely tested, he was where he needed to be at all times, and he can thank his defence for keeping the shots off target in the first place. Coloccini and Saylor are making quite the middle pair, Danny Simpson continues to increase the distance between himself and anyone else that might challenge to take the position, and I don't think I have to sing the praises of El Toro.
The midfield controlled the ball and therefore the game, rarely letting the Hammers out of their own half with any momentum at all. I kept thinking to myself how the midfield is always first on my mind when we have a good showing. Hopefully games like this are a sign of what's to come when we take on lower and mid table teams for the rest of the season. If we only win games against the bottom half for the rest of the year we'll be well clear of relegation climbing the top 10.
I usually offer player notes but the whole side played so well that I'd rather just let it be at that and mention the only dark spot I saw in the game. It wouldn't even be a dark spot except it has been on my mind since the Liverpool match. When Nile Ranger missed that no doubter.... I had said after Liverpool that he had made a strong case for first team action only to hear that Pardew called him out on his training habits and attitude. Since then he's seemed to be in steady decline and I can only hope that miss on Wednesday was the bottom for him. If he slips much further he may find himself in the dog house big time.
MOTM: Leon Best, who else could it be? As it turns out, with Lovenkrands by his side, he may just be mint.