Dec 27, 2013, 10:53 AM EDT
- West Brom have drawn both matches since Clarke ouster
- West Ham have just one point from last five matches
- Baggies hold slim series lead, 37W-20D-36L
Three points could give West Brom some breathing room or boost West Ham out of the relegation zone when the two sides butt heads early Saturday morning at the Boleyn Ground (watch live on NBCSN, 7:45am ET, via NBC Sports Live Extra).
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce is stressing all three points from the home fixture as West Ham struggles to find any semblance of form. Their only wins have come against Fulham, Spurs and Cardiff and their home record is a poor 2-2-5. To boot, the 19th place side will be without James Collins, who suffered a calf injury on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Keith Downing continues to play the role of caretaker following Steve Clarke‘s sacking and has watched over consecutive draws to Hull and Spurs. West Brom’s three wins are tied for league-worst with West Ham and Sunderland, but a league-high eight draws have them in 15th place.
The Hammers haven’t been able to score, with just three in their last five matches and ’0′ next to their name on nine separate occasions this season, but they can also boast eight clean sheets. No one in the Premier League has kept more.
This is the first time the two clubs will meet in consecutive Premier League seasons, as both have bounced up-and-down to the Championship in recent season. Last season saw West Ham win 3-1 at home and a scoreless draw at The Hawthorns. The clubs drew four-straight between the aforementioned Hammers win and a 3-2 home victory by the Baggies on Sept. 13, 2008.
What they’re saying
WHU striker Carlton Cole after his Boxing Day goal: “All I care about is winning. I don’t look at those sort of stats I just want to win games. Whether I score or not it doesn’t matter, I just want to win games. Today wasn’t the day but the next time we go out on that field if I’m starting, I just want to win that game. Whether I’m starting or not I just want to contribute to us winning the game.”
West Brom caretaker Keith Downing on playing twice in 48 hours: “Playing again in less than 48 hours is ludicrous. Asking the players to play twice in less than 48 hours, and provide quality and entertainment, doesn’t make sense That had some bearing on my team selection (at Spurs on Boxing Day). We’ve got a 22-man squad of players staying down here for three days and I’m sure the majority of them will be playing a part in the two games.”
The X-factor in this match is the Collins injury and how the Hammers deal with it. Young, mercurial Irish forward Shane Long has now gone five matches without a goal since his brace against Aston Villa that gave him four goals in as many matches but continues to take his shots. He may be the difference maker in a low-scoring affair, but I’ll peg both teams to find the net in a 1-1 draw.
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