West Ham United on Sunday. The only stand out for me is the fact they've produced some fairly superb away day wins at grounds where they weren't expected to pick up a single point. Add to it the fact that we're due a glitch at some point (it's been 11 games since the last one in the league) and the Hammers have recently upset the odds against us. Although in the season we lost three times to them - we were God awful. No excuse, just fact.
It's a tricky game to predict, they've got pace and height, we remain tentative with set pieces but positively brimming with confidence in possession and when pressing. If a team turns up to go toe to toe, it suits just fine. They haven't lost at the Lane for three seasons. It's the usual ominous pre-match rhetoric that might well come back to haunt us. Either that or this recent glory period of satisfaction from the Claret and Blues will finally be dismissed and sent back to the same warehouse the Ark of the Covenant sat in at the end of Raiders.
My head, is already tuning into the Chelsea game. I'm more pumped for that particular London derby. It's a far more a volatile affair. They utterly despise for similar reasons - we hate Arsenal more than the both of them.
As for this North London v East London irritation? It's unequivocally a massive annoyance. I've never hated West Ham in terms of their preference to play attractive football. The dislike sits firmly with their constant needy attention seeking. Stuff like this is standard:
“Of course we want to beat Spurs on Sunday but the London Mayor’s praise is worthier bragging rights.”
A quoted gem from Karren Brady, which I'm guessing is meant to be unintentional trolling? I did hear The Muppet Show was back, had no idea they were touring. Seems like she believes it. Another chapter in their history written to sit alongside their famous academy producing five players that one time and of course winning the World Cup with a captain that was forced to sign a new contract at the Boleyn when his heart was set on Spurs. Ooooh burn.
Someone should remind Brady their greatest victory against us (a 14-0 white wash) was politically crafted for an Athletics stadium with convenient train links in Leyton Orient's patch. Not sure she quite grasps the magnitude of what the move from Upton Park to the OS will do to the clubs home territory intensity. Visiting their patch is about as moody as it can get. You can taste the hate in the air. Stratford? It already reeks as the perfect place for day trippers, a tourists haven. The only bragging rights here is easy access to Westfields for a cheeky pre-match Nandos. They'll gain plenty financially but lose everything in terms of match-day culture.
The whole rivalry stems from awkward geographical placement of fanbases (especially around Essex). Spurs see themselves as superior to West Ham as a club, always more likely to challenge (flirt rather then penetrate) whilst the Eastenders love to occasionally upset and punch about their weight, feeding off the fact that so many fans love to hate them. Very much an abusive relationship, like two people that in any other walk of life would be best mates but instead prefer to eternally exchange c-words.
Reality is, both sets of fans love to watch flair football. It's tradition. Both have produced and had some superlative footballers, for every decade harking back to the 50s. The difference is, we love to dream and are not afraid to completely mug ourselves off doing so whilst they take pride in knowing their place and enjoy self-deprecation so much it now passes as being good humoured about their yo-yo existence. Nothing wrong with that. Not taking it too seriously is a good ethos that many top tier fanbases have lost sight of down the years. Although don't believe too much of any of this. We can still be impatience and turn on our own, they can be equally intolerant to their teams progress.
In the end, we've always rightly been more bothered about the team from the swamp whilst they (along with Chelsea) struggle with defining their identity because they have to share most of their rivals with other clubs.
All joking aside and ignoring my seasonal attempts to justify why we are superior to them (suck your mum) - we are all the same. We hate to lose and we love to win - no matter the colour of the shirt - and more importantly we love seeing opposing fans suffer the indignity. The indignity is like stepping in dog sh*t and still being able to smell it on your trainers a day later.
I will shift with discomfort if we come unstuck. Hoping there is no post-match discussion that involves the distinction between our chants and their Anti-Semitic hissing.
As for the actual football. No Erik Lamela. Nabil Bentaleb isn't 100% fit but was never likely to figure. Son should be involved. Our Three Lions don't need to roar too loudly, a purring performance will do. After the (almost) excellent tactical game away at the Emirates, we can't afford to be complacent and if there's one thing I've been waiting for all season - it's to properly dismantle an opposing side at home. Like we did against City. Again. I'm greedy.
We're heading towards the festive period and the table (at the top) is beginning to take shape. November on paper looked a formidable task. We're coping fine so far. Just two league games left to really set us up for Xmas and the New Year. If all goes well, all eyes will once more set on our chairman and how he plans to aid with consolidation during a pivotal point in the season (a point where in the past he has often struggled to support - never forget 2006).
West Ham, along with Palace and Leicester, have been a breath of fresh air. It's about time a bubble bursts.