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Kirk’s Column: Norwich match is bigger than it looks

PUBLISHED: 11:33 13 September 2012 | UPDATED: 11:42 13 September 2012

Life's not been dull for James Collins. Pic: Matthew Impey/PA wire

Life's not been dull for James Collins. Pic: Matthew Impey/PA wire

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Kirk Blows writes each week for the Post about all things West Ham

West Ham’s visit to Norwich City this Saturday might have seemed relatively insignificant when the fixtures were published – but it could be one of their most important matches of the season.

That might seem strange to suggest given the Hammers have won two of their opening three Premier League games.

But this is the time of year when vital trends and patterns are set and West Ham cannot afford a second consecutive away defeat following the recent horror show at Swansea.

On that particular day, bloopers from Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins cost the Hammers dear as they collapsed to an embarrassing 3-0 loss.

As a consequence, manager Sam Allardyce will be tempted to dismiss the outcome as a freak result, brought about by his own side’s suicidal tendencies.

But it will be difficult to do that again if the Hammers end up with egg on their faces at Carrow Road.

This time last year, West Ham won their first three games on the road to set the tone for a campaign in which they established a new club record for away victories.

They also failed to win their first three home fixtures and so we can see how the flavour of the season was dictated in the early stages.

Additionally, Norwich have yet to record their first league win this term, so this game can be viewed as a potential six-pointer if the Hammers want to steer clear of the drop zone.

Is there any other reason that it’s on the box?

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Life has certainly not been dull for James Collins since his return to West Ham in August.

The defender deservedly won the man-of-the-match award in the opening-day win against his former club Aston Villa, then made a catastrophic error to help hand victory to Swansea the following week.

On Saturday, he suffered further misfortune when he was sent off as Wales crashed to a 2-0 home defeat to Belgium in a World Cup qualifier.

And to think he’s the kind of player who often goes about his work with quiet efficiency…

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Yossi Benayoun made 53 appearances as a substitute at Liverpool, while eight of his 11 outings for Chelsea were off the bench, as were 10 of his 25 games for Arsenal last season.

No prizes for guessing what his role is likely to be at Norwich on Saturday…


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