Fulham travel to West Ham on Saturday with both teams languishing at the wrong end of the table.
Both teams have taken 10 points from their opening 12 games and sit in 17th and 18th position in the Premier League, with neither team winning any of their last 4 Premier League matches.
West Ham have struggled for goals this season, failing to score in 7 of their 12 games – scoring just 9 goals in total. This has been down to a lack of a front line goalscorer, with Andy Carroll being ruled out and Modibo Maiga not cutting it up front by himself.
This has led Sam Allardyce to re-sign Carlton Cole on a free transfer and play a kind of a 4-6-0 formation, with Kevin Nolan in more of an advanced role and Ravel Morrison playing just behind him in the last few games since Ricardo Vaz Te’s injury. Although this formation worked perfectly away at Tottenham (with Vaz Te and Nolan), this is not a formation that West Ham can continue for the whole season and a goalscorer is a must in the January transfer window.
Fulham have also struggled for goals this season, scoring 11 times in their opening 12 games and have failed to score in 4 of their 6 away games so far, with Dimitar Berbatov and new signing Darren Bent both struggling to find any goalscoring form.
Things have not been much better at the other end of the pitch, with only Norwich (23) and Sunderland (24) conceding more goals than them (21) so far this season, also Fulham at (7/5) are second favourites behind Tottenham to be the next side to change their manager.
With that being said, this is a must win game for both managers.
West Ham will be without long term absentees Andy Carroll and Alou Diarra, while Ricardo Vaz Te (Shoulder), Winston Reid (Ankle) and Mladen Petric (Shin) remain out. Razvan Rat has also been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Fulham will be without Brede Hangeland (Sciatic Nerve), Damien Duff (Groin) and Hugo Rodallega (Groin) for their trip to face West Ham.
- West Ham have not won at home since the first game of the season against Cardiff
- Fulham have had fewer shots per game than any other team this season (8)
- Fulham have also conceded more shots per game than any other team this season (19.8)
- There have been over 2.5 goals in 7 of the last 8 games between these two sides
- West Ham are unbeaten in their last 8 home Premier League games against Fulham (W4 D4)
- Carlton Cole has scored 6 goals in his last 5 starts against Fulham
- West Ham have the lowest shooting accuracy in the Premier League this season (32.4%)
With Andy Carroll out injured and Carlton Cole regaining his fitness, it has been down to Kevin Nolan to lead the line for West Ham in a much more advanced role than the attacking midfielder is used to.
The former Bolton man has found himself in this role in the last 3 games for the Hammers and must step up his game with West Ham only scoring one goal in this period. This has highlighted even more the lack of options West Ham have up front, with Andy Carroll not featuring at all so far, Modibo Maiga playing poorly when given the opportunity and the unfortunate shoulder injury to Ricardo Vaz Te against Swansea.
If West Ham are going to climb the table then they will need to find a way to score goals without their main striker and will be relying heavily on Kevin Nolan, Ravel Morrison and Carlton Cole when fit.
If Nolan is going to be the player to fire the Hammers up the table then he will need to improve drastically in front of goal. The Englishman has only scored one goal so far this season, hitting the target with 22% of his shots and converting just 6% of his chances.
Nolan has also missed the most clear cut chances in the West Ham squad so far this season (3) and has the joint most shots off target with Diame (14).
The Englishman will be hoping to return to his more favoured position in midfield sooner rather than later, but for now will have to step up his game and take one for the team until then.
Pajitim Kasami has impressed for Fulham this season, adapting well to all the different positions Martin Jol has played him in so far.
The Swiss international has played just behind the striker, out wide and part of a three man midfield so far this season and is one of Fulham’s only attacking players that also has the ability to track back and defend from the front. In a team that could feature the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Darren Bent and Adel Taarabt it is important for Fulham to have a player with Kasami’s characteristics.
Kasami has made more tackles (34) and entered into more ground duels (153) than any other Fulham player this season, winning 79% of his tackles and 48% of his ground duels. As well as defending from the front, Kasami has also made the most dribble attempts in the Fulham squad, being successful with 57% of them and has scored 2 goals, with his volley against Crystal Palace being one of the contenders for goal of the season.
Pajitim is also Fulham’s second most creative player behind Bryan Ruiz this season, creating 10 chances at a rate of a chance every 99 minutes.
Kasami’s all round play has been crucial for Fulham so far this season and Martin Jol will be hoping he can be the difference against West Ham on Saturday.
Neither team will want to lose this game and with both teams struggling for goals. I can’t see there being too many goals compared to previous meetings.
West Ham 1-1 Fulham