West Ham at home to West Brom is the early kick off at the weekend, in a match that will played as the battle of two struggling squads. Neither team has won in either of their last five games and both have been dragged into relegation contention. As such any points for either of them are precious, and both will be hoping for more than just a draw.
West Ham currently sit one position above Sunderland at the base of the Premier League table. As far as managers at risk go, Sam Allardyce must surely be one of the closest to being sacked, despite his efforts in getting West Ham into the top division and keeping them there. The old age idea that whatever one might say about Allardyce he would never be one to let a side get relegated, is certainly being tested now. West Ham have won just once in their last ten games in the league, and come into this game on the back of two consecutive 3 -1 defeats. Andy Carrol has been missed sorely. West Ham had been used to system in which everything went through the England forward, but without that in their Arsenal they have been found out in the first half of this season. Indeed, something will need to change, starting with West Brom, if they are to survive.
West Ham may be in bad form without a win in 5 games, but West Brom are currently the team that has gone the longest without victory in the league. Eight games and counting is their current run, and similarly to West Ham they have only one win in ten. Steve Clarke, after an impressive first start at the helm for West Brom, was sacked after a third consecutive loss to Norwich at home. There was hope among the Baggies that this would spark some kind of change, but as of yet they haven’t won since his departure. Granted that there have been only three games so far which have included only one loss, it is perhaps too early to say whether this decision was taken too hastily. They do enter this game having earned a draw at White Hart Lane though, a positive result for sure, and now have the opportunity to build on it this week.
West Ham have clashed with West Brom 10 times at Upton Park since the establishment of the Premier League, and in that time there have been ten different managers in charge.
West Brom have only 1 win in their last 9 games, and they similarly only have 1 win in their last 9 league meetings with West Ham, drawing 4 and losing 4.
As frequently happens at this point, the key man I shall select for West Ham their top goal scorer (or should I say joint top goal scorer), Ravel Morrison. Carlton Cole has also scored 3 goals, but two of those have come in the last two games. Ravel Morrison provides a more likely and direct threat, and has had the third most shots in the team after Diame (40) and Nolan (26). He has also been a creative force for the Hammers and has 2 assists so far this season. To help him accomplish this he is very effective when running with the ball. Just this season he has attempted 58 dribbles and completed 57%. He is not just a key man for West Ham but he is also their most exciting player.
West Brom are the away team for this, and as is vital to any away side their defence must be solid. Jonas Olson has been solid at the back so far this season and his stats back up this claim. Both Olson and McAuley have 102 successful headed clearances, the joint high for the team, but Olson has an additional 74 successful clearances that weren’t headed. He also provides a big attacking threat from corners and free-kicks. Olson has scored once already this season, and we can expect him to score multiple times more as the season progresses. Indeed he is key to West Brom’s success.
West Ham have a severely crippled dressing room at the moment with 7 players out. Andy Carroll is close to a return, but he will remain absent for this one. Morrison has a knock but he should make the starting line up, and Collins similarly has a knock but should be ok. Downing, Reid, Vaz Te and Pertriae are the other injured players.
West Brom have only two injuries and they are both strikers. Anelka is out with a pelvis injury and Anichebe is out with the same injury.
This will be a closely contested match, but in the end I think it will be decided by home field advantage.