A manager-less West Brom travel to Upton Park on New Year’s Day to face a West Ham side that have started the season impressively despite losing their last two games. Both teams will want to make the most of the festive period of fixtures so the result here could be vital in each team’s form going into 2015.
Alan Irvine was relieved of his duties on Monday after winning just one of his last nine games, ending a four and a half month tenure at the club. A new manager is yet to be announced with names such as Tony Pulis and Tim Sherwood been thrown in the hat so far. The Baggies have picked up only four points from a possible 27 and sit precariously above the relegation places in 16th place. Their last three matches have ended in defeat with the latest being away to Stoke, which ended in a 2-0 score line, coupled with recent losses to QPR and Man City. West Brom would’ve been touted as relegation candidates at the start of the season but a change in manager could help change their season around and positive results in the next few games would be an ideal start for the new boss.
West Ham on the other hand have excelled on everyone’s expectations so far with the Hammers sitting in 6th place, sandwiched between North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs. A run of four wins out of five in the last month propelled Big Sam’s team into the European qualification places. New signings such as Sakho, Song and Kouyaté have been impressive whilst the English duo of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing have found some good form of late. Their last two matches, however, pitted them against Chelsea and Arsenal, and both ended in defeats but these results won’t exactly define West Ham’s season but matches like against West Brom will and being at home, they will want to take advantage.
This is the first batch of matches that sees two teams meet for the return fixture having already played earlier in the season and on that occasion, West Ham came from behind to take all three points at the Hawthorns. Craig Dawson gave Albion an early lead but goals Nolan and Tomkins before half time gave the Hammers the win.
James Tomkins is the only absentee from the squad after picking up his fifth yellow of the season, resulting in a one match ban. Nolan, Noble and Valencia are all vying for a starting berth having been on the bench for the defeat to Arsenal.
Victor Anichebe has been rated as doubtful for the game against West Ham after recovering from a groin problem. Jonas Olsson is still out for another two weeks after surgery on an Achilles injury whilst Sébastien Pocognoli is suffering from a knock. Stéphane Sessègnon and James Morrison are also missing from the matchday squad with injuries.
- West Ham have only lost two of their last 12 matches with West Brom, winning five and drawing five along the way.
- The Baggies have not won at Upton Park since their first Premier League trip there in September 2002
- West Brom have won just one of their five Premier League New Year’s Day fixtures
- West Ham have lost seven of their 10 Premier League New Year’s Day games
- Saido Berahino has scored in two of his three Premier League games against West Ham.
- Stewart Downing has created 54 goal scoring chances this season, more than twice as many as the Baggies’ top creator (Dorrans, 25).
Head to Heads
2014/2015 Tue 02 Dec West Brom 1 – 2 West Ham
2013/2014 Sat 26 Apr West Brom 1 – 0 West Ham
2013/2014 Sat 28 Dec West Ham 3 – 3 West Brom
2012/2013 Sat 30 Mar West Ham 3 – 1 West Brom
2012/2013 Sun 16 Dec West Brom 0 – 0 West Ham
2010/2011 Sat 12 Feb West Brom 3 – 3 West Ham
2010/2011 Wed 10 Nov West Ham 2 – 2 West Brom
West Ham: Andy Carroll
Over the last few games Andy Carroll has shown signs of getting back to his best form with three goals this season, all coming in his last five appearances as he tries to help West Ham continue their good form in this busy period. With the amount of attacking quality that West ham have at their disposal it is vital that Andy Carroll keeps playing well to show why he deserves to be in the team or face being dropped. With the likes of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia who offer pace and movement on and off the ball for Sam Allardyce it is good that he has someone like Carroll – who offers a superb aerial threat – with two of his three goals coming from headers as well as Carroll winning 63% of his 140 headed duels.
West Brom: Saido Berahino
After getting off to a great start to the season with seven goals in his first nine appearances, Saido Berahino now finds himself on a ten game goal drought and now dropping down the pecking order as West Brom look to get back to winning ways. The young Englishmen who gives great pace to the side has shown that he can cause havoc to defences on his day with 48% of his 27 attempted dribbles being successful. Berahino has also proven that he is quite a clinical player who can take his be deadly when given the chance, with an impressive conversion rate of 22% along with a shot accuracy of 47%. But it is whether Berahino can start to get back to his best form to help West Brom climb up the table.
With West Brom without a manager at the present time, I can’t see how their fortunes will turnaround so quickly whilst West Ham will be eager to make the most of another home game so a Hammers win is my pick in what I think could be a surprisingly entertaining affair.