We're only 12 games into the Premier League season, but West Ham v Fulham is huge for both teams already. West Ham have only won twice this season in the league, and their defense - which was keeping them in games - is now suffering key injuries and a loss of confidence. They also can't score goals. Kevin Nolan needs to play off a front man. He has never had pace, but feeds of scraps from a center forward or crosses into the box. West Ham are just not creating chances like that with Andy Carroll, but Sam Allardyce needs to change the formation and personal to deal with it. He claimed a lot of credit for playing 6 in midfield away at Spurs when the Hammers won 3-0, but hasn't adapted again since then. Lose again at home and you can bet the boos will be ringing around Upton Park.
Martin Jol won't just get booed if he loses, he'll probably get fired. Rene Meulensteen has already been brought in as a coach, and he'll get the job if they lose to West Ham on Saturday, or maybe after the Spurs game on Wednesday. Fulham just haven't really progressed as a team this season. Scott Parker was a good addition, but he's getting on, as is Darren Bent. Unfortunately for Fulham, they seem to be aging as a team, and not in a good way. Instead of using the experience of Berbatov, Hangeland and Parker, they are just showing that they are older, slower and less able to produce what they did a couple of years ago. Fulham are very dependent on the Bulgarian and he's a match-winner at his best - but maybe he doesn't have much of his best left.
It's a huge game for both teams, but you have to feel Fulham would be much happier with a point away from home. West Ham need to win - and win again at Palace on Tuesday. Otherwise they'll be facing a very difficult Christmas period with nowhere near enough points on the board.
Spurs also need something against Manchester United this weekend. After getting beaten by 6 by Manchester City last weekend, they need not only a result, but a performance. It would be stupid to sack Villas-Boas after allowing him to spend a boat load of money, but they need something. Goals would be a good start.
The league is starting to take shape, and the top 4 look like they could be the top 4 (with one other wildcard or Manchester United) at the end of the season.
Too many good American traditions have meant the Geezer has taken his eye off the ball in Europe this weekend. I'll be watching, but the turkey and red wine mean that any attempt at analysis or observation has gone out of the window.
Beer, wine and food take precedence sometimes. Deal with it.