The Opposition: West Ham United

Last updated : 26 November 2009 By Iain Dale

The Gameplan
Zola likes playing 4-3-3 but the players prefer 4-4-2. Cole should be back and he has been brilliant this season. Everything revolves around him. Franco has been beside him of late and I expect him to retain his position.  We have been playing entertaining football but also have the best tackling rate in the league.

Parker and Behrami have been superb in midfield. Not much gets past them. Noble may lose out to the more creative Diamanti, who is a brilliant dead ball specialist. We play quick, one touch football. On our day we are frightening. Off our day we frighten ourselves.

Our weaknesses are in the full back positions and the fact that the usual 4-3-3 formation prevents much width.

Cole and Ilunga should return from injuries. No one is suspended, although Parker is nearing a second suspension.

Player by Player
Green - Weak on free kicks but brilliant shot stopper.
Upson - Reliable, can be a matchsaver and has started scoring too.
Da Costa - Will only be his third game but looks a brilliant buy. Keeping the highly rated James Tomkins out of the side.
Ilunga - Not been at his best this season, but a constant threat down the left.
Faubert - Had a good start to the season replacing Lucas Neill, but has
faded in recent games.
Parker - At the centre of everything. Tough tackler but can also run with the ball.
Behrami - The Duracell bunny of the team. Played in central midfield in recent game but is normally on the right. Constant threat.
Diamanti - Headcase and very entertaining. Brilliant free kick and corner taker. Has scored 2 penalties. Often used as sub.
Collison - The great white young hope of the team. Great going forward and has a good shot on him.
Franco - Played the last 3 games, scoring one. A bit slow but has great skill and holds the ball up well.
Cole - First game back from a hamstring injury. Scored 6 in 10 this season and receiving well deserved plaudits. A real handful for any defender.

Iain Dale writes Hammers diary West Ham Till I Die

Click here to read Iain's season preview written in August