With a number of teams with games in hand over their rivals, West Ham host hull City in a match that both hope will strengthen their survival bid.
West Ham have had contrasting runs of form throughout this season, with a 3 match losing streak following a run of 5 games unbeaten, which has meant that they have kept themselves embroiled in the relegation dogfight. A win against Hull will change that with the potential of a 9 point gap between them and 18th placed Sunderland, which you would suspect would be enough, barring the teams below all experiencing good form.
Hull City have had an impressive return to the Premier League and have a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final to look forward to. The focus on Wednesday night will be obtaining a win which would take them to 36 points – a total that could be enough to keep them in the top flight. On a run of 3 wins in 10 isn’t exactly enthralling, but wins have come in important matches against Sunderland, Cardiff and West Brom.
After signing on a permanent £15million deal last summer, Andy Carroll has seen his season disrupted with injury problems before a suspension ruled him further shortly after coming back. Now with a few games under his belt, the former Newcastle striker plays a key role in the way West Ham set up and their aspirations for a mid-table finish – somthing Sam Allardyce admitted in his pre-match press conference.
The direct playing style associated with Sam Allardyce relies on a target man to win the battles, both in the air and on the floor, against the opposition centre backs before finding an on-running teammate – in this case it is normally Kevin Nolan who has a good partnership with Carroll. In Carroll’s best performance of the season against Stoke, Carroll and Nolan had the highest pass combinations for West Ham with 8. On Saturday against Manchester United though, the highest pass combinations was between Adrian and Carroll (16) and the striker only managed to find a teammate with 66% of his passes alongside losing possession on 21 occasions – a season high.
Carroll has been massively missed by West Ham with their struggles scoring goals being a reason the Hammers looked in serious trouble of relegation earlier in the season. The turnaround of form at the beginning of 2014 coincided with the return of Carroll to the side as confidence was reinstalled into the players after the win away to Cardiff. From a team who were struggling to have any shots at all, Andy Carroll has had 19 himself in his last 4 matches (293 minutes) with a respectable shooting accuracy of 38%.
Signed in the January transfer window alongside Jelavic to help add goals to a Hull side whose reliance on a decent defensive record could have caused them issues in the second half of the season, Shane Long has, while not always scoring the amount of goals his ability allows him to, added quality to the Tigers attacking line-up.
Having a work rate that every club in the bottom half of the Premier League loves to have, Long’s desire to work the channels and press opposition players high the pitch, 68 ground duels in 8 games proves this, allows his strike partner Jelavic to focus on his own strengths – playing in the 18-yard box.
Scoring against the team who let him leave in January despite not having a direct replacement, Long’s total rose to 3 goals in 8 games since the move. All 3 of his goals have been clear cut chances (100% success rate) which shows that the former West Brom and Reading striker is clinical in the important areas that Hull previously lacked. Long’s style of play also means he can create chances for his teammates and 11 opportunities has seen Long have 1 assist to his name at Hull.
- West Ham have kept 13 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, joint 2nd best alongside Arsenal.
- Stewart Downing has won the 2nd most corners in the league (40).
- Hull have the 6th best defence in the league with 37 league goals conceded.
- Shane Long has showed his all round since joining Hull with 22 tackles made out of 23 attempted (91%).
- George Boyd has made more appearances than any other player this season (17).
- Before winning their last two trips on the road (2-0 at Sunderland and 4-0 at Cardiff), Hull City had won only once in 12 matches with a total of 7 goals.
West Ham are hoping James Tomkins will be available for Wednesday night’s match after injurying his ankle. Borriello and O’Brien will both miss out though.
Hull have no new injury concerns, but Brady, McShane and Dudgeon are set to miss out for the foreseeable future.
West Ham are on a run of 3 games with no points, so this is a big match turn that run around and keep a distance between themselves and the relegation area. Hull have won their last two away matches, both against relegation rivals, so they are able to hold their nerve in the big matches. The London club will keep things tight though to avoid defeat and ultimately see the game end in a draw.