West Ham’s Demba is the best - Ba none!
Hammers new striker Demba Ba was the star of the show at The Hawthorns on Saturday with a double salvo to save a point for West Ham.
WHAT ON earth were West Ham thinking? Just a week after he had failed a medical at Stoke City, Demba Ba was signing a permanent deal at Upton Park!
Whether it was madness or desperation, that huge gamble paid off magnificently on Saturday at The Hawthorns as the Hammers newest striker grabbed two goals to claw West Ham back from 3-0 down to earn a draw with relegation rivals West Brom.
He could have had a lot more. Forget the incompetence of the home defence, aside from his goals he had one cleared off the line, another that was pushed on to the post and one that hit the side-netting.
This was a remarkable game that could easily have finished 8-8 and it was Ba who was the star.
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“I am very happy,” said the 25-year-old in his French accent. “It has been a while since I played from the beginning of a game. I am very tired as well because I didn’t think that I could play for 90 minutes.”
Manager Avram Grant wasn’t convinced either: “It’s the first game he started and he needed to play 90 minutes,” he said. “It’s not easy to come straight in and he did very well, scored two goals and was denied two times off the line. He is a very good striker.”
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If Robbie Keane or Victor Obinna had been fit, Grant admitted that Ba would not have started this game, but his acrobatic second goal proved that he can be a real force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season.
“The ball came over level with my right foot and I just tried to hit the ball as hard as I could and it was fine,” said the former Hoffenheim hitman, who seemed to link fairly well with Carlton Cole and Freddie Piquionne when he came on in the second half.
“Even in the training, I play not only with Carlton, but with the other strikers too,” he said. “I always try to give my best and try to understand how to work with the other player.
“It was very nice to play with Carlton today and when Freddie came on he made a real difference because we were one more up front. He gave us a certain energy and he was very good.”
Ba gave West Ham a cutting edge even in that desperate first half where everything went so horribly wrong for the Hammers.
So what did the Senegal striker think was the problem in the opening 45 minutes?
“We were just slipping,” he said in an accent that reminded you of Inspector Clouseau at his best. It is difficult to remember any of the players slipping around on the pitch though.
“No, not slipping, sleeping,” he smiled, correcting the waiting journalists, and this time he was dead right. “We started badly, but we finished with a lot of force and strength, it was certainly a very strange game.
“At half time the manager said it was time to play like men out there. If we want to get something from the game, we had to start fighting and that is what we did in the second half.”
They certainly did. Piquionne’s arrival was vital, but it was the finishing of Ba that was to prove crucial and could even have won West Ham all three points by the end.
“When you look at the way we played in the second half, we are very happy with it,” he said. “I won’t say that we can forget the first half, but we did everything to put it right and now we have to play like that from the beginning – it is very important.”
They do, but what about that fitness. Are we going to see Ba have a run in the team? Or is that old injury going to blight his West Ham career just as it is beginning?
“I have always said from the beginning, the only answer I can give about my fitness is on the pitch and that is what I did today and I will try to do it for the next couple of weeks now,” he said emphatically.
“I am not 100 per cent yet, but I feel good.”
West Ham fans feel good about the striker too and with Keane and Obinna on the sidelines, they might well have found a new goalscoring hero.
At Hoffenheim earlier in the season, he scored in five consecutive games – now wouldn’t that be nice?