Even though both of these outfits experienced relatively stable campaigns last term, there’s no doubt that both have struggled immensely this time around. Both look set for relegation battles and with the Hammers sat in 19th spot and their opponents currently without a permanent manager, there’s no doubt that this clash is huge.
West Ham were dealt a big festive blow on Boxing Day after Sam Allardyce’s side were flung into the bottom three. After taking the lead against Arsenal the omens looked good, but things soon turned sour and other results meant that they are well and truly stuck in a relegation dogfight. Admittedly, only two points separate them from safety, but recent results suggest that it could be a very difficult second half to the season. The Upton Park outfit have now lost four of their last five league matches, while they have only won once at home since the opening day of the season. After also only scoring three goals in those last five games, it’s clear that Allardyce has plenty of areas to strengthen with the January transfer window just around the corner.
West Brom on the other hand aren’t performing quite as badly, but the fact that their opponents could leapfrog them this weekend says everything you need to know about their struggles. They are still without a manager following Steve Clarke’s dismissal, while his departure hasn’t really sparked an upturn in form following successive draws. Such results mean that the Baggies have now won just one game in their last twelve and following the news that they have not been able to land top manager target Pepe Mel, you could suggest that the club are in a state of limbo at the moment.
In terms of team news, West Ham will not be able to rely on the services of James Collins as he continues to feel the effects of a calf problem sustained in the Arsenal game. Elsewhere, a groin injury will keep out Ravel Morrison who continues to sit on the treatment table. West Brom also arrive at the game with problems, with Shane Long being the first absentee as he struggles with a calf issue. The Republic of Ireland international has been penned in for a late fitness test, while a late decision will be made on Victor Anichebe as well who is attempting to recover from a groin injury.
Both of these teams seem strangers to victories at the moment and this is going to be the reason behind our prediction. It might be classed as a relegation encounter, but don’t expect this to be a spectacle for the neutrals out there. Instead, our tip is going to be a drab goalless draw.