Premier League | The Hawthorns | Sat 26 Apr | 3pm
The unpredictable vs The predictable.
Baggies, forgive us for one moment as we diatribe on the Sam Allardyce conundrum. Stick with us, though, as what may at first appear to be a one-club digression, will reveal all in terms of West Ham's attitude and tactics.
WEST BROM FORM
- Man City 3-1 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 3-3 Spurs (Prem)
- Norwich 0-1 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 3-3 Cardiff (Prem)
- Hull 2-0 WBA (Prem)
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 0-1 Palace (Prem)
- Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 1-2 Liverpool (Prem)
- S'land 1-2 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 2-1 Hull (Prem)
Pundits, both on the box and in the press, seem quite happy to pat Allardyce on the back with one hand while giving West Ham fans the finger with the other.
Fans’ anger at the poor football they’ve been subjected to this season (particularly in the latter stages) has been thrown back in their faces by all.
“They’re safe! What are they complaining about?” Sadly, safety is not enough in this day and age of £40+ match tickets.
Allardyce’s over reliance on a single tactic (for those of you who’ve been living under a rock this season, that would be “pump it long to Andy Carroll”) and a complete lack of any discernible Plan B has opened the door for wobbling managers (e.g. David Moyes) and fellow strugglers (e.g. Crystal Palace) to know how they’ll play West Ham roughly eight years in advance of stepping on the pitch. Savvy game plans, if executed correctly against the Hammers, cannot fail.
Last season, supporters’ frustration was borne out of the lack of playing 'the West Ham way' It’s now borne out of watching a team who have seemingly lost the ability to do simple stuff like keep the ball for longer than five passes.
Even Carroll, the man who the entire team and tactics are built around, seems bewildered and isolated.
Hear us now West Brom – safety is yours for the taking this Saturday. With Pepe Mel already talking this game up as a “cup final” for the Baggies, it’s hard to see the Irons getting much out of this fixture.
The hosts will be missing Liam Ridgewell, who limped off during a defending horror show at the Etihad. He is out for the next two matches, with Chris Brunt taking on his defensive duties. West Ham have no new injury concerns, although the Irons will line up even more defensively than normal seeing as it’s an away game.
Player to watch: Andy Carroll (West Ham)
Some would say Carroll has run out of time to book his seat on the plane to Brazil. The England call-up looks to be slipping further and further away with every game where he fails to find the back of the net. The striker gets in good positions, but rarely scores (see below).
There’s no doubting his nuisance value, particularly against shorter, less robust defences. The challenge for Carroll is whether that’s enough for Roy Hodgson to use a squad space on him. At the back of the manager’s mind there must be that nagging doubt that the big Geordie will suffer from 'the Crouch effect' at international level… basically, every time he goes near the ball the referee blows up for a foul because it’s all a bit ungainly and just a little bit too rough, young man.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 3-3 WBA (Prem, Dec 13)
- W Ham 3-1 WBA (Prem, Mar 13)
- WBA 0-0 W Ham (Prem, Dec 12)
- WBA 3-3 W Ham (Prem, Feb 11)
- W Ham 2-2 WBA (Prem, Nov 10)
While West Ham fans know exactly what they’ll get from a claret-and-blue Allardyce effort, West Brom fans are still struggling with the schizophrenic football that Mel’s sides are producing. He’s juggling a squad that he's not been able to alter with new personnel, and implementing any new methodology has been an uphill struggle thanks to a unsightly language barrier. A win on Saturday and he should see it through to next season. Lose and he’ll definitely be packing his bags and leaving the West Midlands.
Facts and figures
- West Brom have drawn half their last 14 home games against bottom-half teams.
- Both teams have scored in 10 of West Brom’s last 12 home matches.
- 5 of the last 6 meetings between these teams have finished all-square.
- West Brom have conceded before half-time in 10 of their last 11 home matches.
West Brom to run out 1-0 winners.