Can West Ham add the Seagulls to the Magpies, Bluebirds and Eagles?

The hectic Christmas and New Year schedule continues as West Ham look to shoot down the seagulls and welcome in 2019 with a sixth win in eight.

It was a poor performance at Burnley, which means that we have lost two of our last three games. On the other hand, when I previewed the Newcastle game at the beginning of December, I was (admittedly, tongue in cheek) looking for 24 points from the next eight games. Perhaps I could have put it another way. If we could get 15 points from the seven games leading up to the Brighton fixture at the beginning of 2019, how many fans would have taken that? Or even, if in the month of December we could get three more points than Manchester City in the seven games to be played by the end of the year, who would be happy with that, especially with the (usual) lengthy injury list that we have?

Whatever the reasons for what happened at Burnley, and I’m sure that tiredness was a contributory factor, if not as important a part as has been said, then if we can bounce back with a win tonight then all will be forgotten for the time being. Wolves and Watford stand in our way of reclaiming eighth place, and even a point may be enough to take us into the top half of the table, as two of our adversaries in the race to finish seventh (Bournemouth and Watford) meet on the South Coast tonight. I’d like to see that game end in a draw, as well as the Wolves v Palace game. In fact I always like to see teams that we are in direct competition with losing or drawing their games for the benefit of our fortunes in the league.

Ironically, Brighton are not renowned for their performances away from the Amex, especially when they travel to London, where they have lost seven of their last eight games in the capital. Of course the exception to this is the 3-0 drubbing they gave us last season at the London Stadium. This is only their second season back in the top flight, but manager Chris Hughton (much under-rated in my opinion) has done an excellent job.

In the three games played so far since their return, the Seagulls have beaten us on each occasion, but given our recent run against flying creatures (magpies, bluebirds, eagles) let us hope that we can add a fourth bird to the list tonight. Oh, for a repeat of that glorious sunny afternoon in April 2012 when Ricardo Vaz Te scored some wonderful goals, and we trounced Brighton 6-0 in a Championship fixture on our way back to the Premier League.

If fit (and not too tired) I’d like to see a triple A front line tonight of Antonio, Anderson and Arnie. In midfield I’d like to see Snodgrass, Rice and Obiang. And if Zabaleta is fit, then I’d like to see him take his place alongside Diop, Ogbonna, and Cresswell. My player of the season, Fabianski (just shading Rice) will continue in goal, although I assume Adrian will get a run out in the Cup next week.

It won’t be easy against an Albion side that are well organised, and have taken four points from their last two games against Everton and Arsenal, after a run of three successive defeats. It would be good to get off to a quick start and score early on. But I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember the last time we scored a goal at home in the first half of a game, and despite our excellent recent run, I don’t think we’ve scored in the first 45 minutes of a match at the London Stadium for two months now, since the win over Burnley on 3 November.

Perhaps today we can put that right? I’ll go for a 3-1 win.

West Ham Ready To Bounce Back And Bury The Brighton Bogey

There might not be nine ladies dancing on this ninth day of Christmas but it could be league win number nine as West Ham look to return to winning ways in their first game of 2019.

For those still counting, today is the ninth day of Christmas and the notion of nine ladies dancing might bring back nostalgic memories of the Hammerettes strutting their half-time stuff to MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This at Upton Park.  But that is all in the past whereas today is about new beginnings as West Ham welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to the London Stadium for the opening game of 2019.  A new year brings with it renewed feelings of optimism; the opening of the transfer window has us dreaming of exciting new recruits to bolster the squad; and a reset of the yellow card count allows players added scope to hack, lunge, tug and dive knowing that the spectre of suspension no longer hangs over their head.

Brighton have become something of a bogey team for West Ham and will be looking to claim their fourth successive Premier League victory against the Hammers.  In fact, West Ham have only won one of the six top flight games against the Seagulls – a 2-1 victory (Cottee, Dickens) back in March 1983.  It was the consequences of the demonstrations at last season’s home fixture with Brighton, however, that prompted the Board to extend their previously short arms deeper into their pockets during the summer, finally employ a decent manager and take a welcome step away from Twitter.

Depending how you want to look at it, West Ham have won an in-form five from the last seven or are on the slide with two defeats in the last three.  The common denominator in those two defeats was an opposition playing with aggression and intensity; it would be no surprise to see the same approach from Brighton tonight.  Manuel Pellegrini suggested that fatigue was the major contributor to the disappointing showing at Burnley but it seemed as much about poor attitude and a lack of desire to me.  Not that the effects of the festive programme with a squad badly hit by injuries didn’t play a part – just that it was not the whole story.

West Ham will hope to welcome back Pablo Zabaleta in defence but, with few other alternatives available, the rest of the back-line will be as you were.   That leaves Angelo Ogbonna once again standing-in for the missing Fabian Balbuena and it will be fingers crossed that he will is more alert than he was at Turf Moor.  I had an old computer that was like Ogbonna.  It was fine when you first started it up but gradually over time its performance became slow and erratic until the only option was to re-boot.  Hopefully, he has been cleared down, reformatted and had a firmware upgrade installed over the last few days to increase power.  Issa Diop’s performances have also suffered in Balbuena’s absence and both will need to be on their toes tonight.

In midfield, Pedro Obiang must surely return as a replacement for the struggling Mark Noble, who is looking well past his best before date right now.  Assuming Robert Snodgrass has recovered from his knock, the rest of the midfield should be unchanged.  The wild card is Samir Nasri who is reported to be available for the game following his signing for the Hammers at the expiration of his doping ban.  It would be a stretch to expect him starting the game (he has only played eight times since the start of the 2017 season) but can see him getting twenty minutes or so from the bench. At least he shouldn’t be tired!

Marko Arnautovic will lead the attack again and his presence is essential to take some of the spotlight (and attention) from opposition defenders away from Felipe Anderson.  If other teams decide to double up on Anderson then it is up to the other players to exploit the extra space made available.  My preferred choice as a partner for Arnie would be Michail Antonio who looks to have regained much of his appetite in recent weeks.  Ideally, it will be Andy Carroll and Xande Silva on the bench with Lucas Perez safely at home watching the new season of Luther.

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Brighton are at completely the other end of the injury league table to West Ham.  Their only reported injury is Colombian bogeyman, Jose Izquierdo, and even then he may be available for selection today.  They will, however, be missing Mat Ryan and Alireza Jahanbakhsh who are both on international duty at the AFC Asian Cup.  In addition to Izquierdo, ageing striker Glenn Murray also revels in his games against the Hammers.

Referee Chris Kavanagh from Lancashire makes his second West Ham appearance of the season – the first was in the drawn game at Huddersfield in November.  He has his fair share of yellow cards this term but just the one red – Maddison of Leicester against Brighton.

I heard West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini’s comments about the scheduling during the festive period – if that’s a problem then he shouldn’t have taken the job.

Lawro on Pellegrini

Despite having a dig at Pellegrini concerning the busy festive schedule, Lawro expects West Ham to return to winning ways with a 2-0 win.  Paul Merson is going for exactly the same result and score.  I am expecting to see a positive reaction following the disappointment at Burnley.  Brighton will be well organised as usual and even though they are not good travellers this will be another stern test.  Apparently, January is West Ham’s worst performing month for Premier League wins but having watched a poor Everton – Leicester game yesterday there is every reason to keep our sights on the ‘best of the rest’ title.  It might ultimately turn out to be unrealistic but there is nothing wrong with setting challenging and ambitious targets.  West Ham to win 2-1.

Five Takeaways From West Ham’s Humbling At Turf Moor

Injuries, fixture congestion, travel difficulties and invisible grey shirts? West Ham surrender the points to Burnley because they just didn’t want them enough.

I Can Take The Despair, It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand

We wanted a return to the West Ham Way and that is what we’ve got.  Periods of exciting, free-flowing football, purple patches of form and heightened expectations – only for it all to come tumbling down just as a tantalising glimpse of glory is beckoning.  In reality, the return from the December fixture list is more than acceptable and the club appears to be in much better shape than it has been for some time.  That hardly softens the blow, though, of what was a massive disappointment in Sunday’s performance.  That the final score wasn’t by a margin of five or six goals in the host’s favour was due to the Clarets wayward finishing rather than the efforts of the Hammer’s defence.  At the other end the threat was so lame that even Joe Hart could have kept a clean sheet.

They Don’t Like It Up ‘Em

Various mitigating circumstances have been put forward to explain the inadequacies of West Ham’s performance: the lengthy injury list; a day less to recover than Burnley since their previous matches; and travel difficulties associated with the timing of the return flight (!) from Southampton.   Had the Hammers began proceedings with a fighting display, but faded in the last half hour, then a claim of tiredness could be more acceptable.  The fact of the matter was that West Ham were never at the races and gave the impression that in the aftermath of the hosts capitulation to Everton, they only had to turn up in order to snaffle the points.  As with the Watford game, Burnley bullied the Hammers out of it.  The Clarets were superior all over the pitch as our boys were out-thought, out-fought and out-played.  It must be a worry that many other teams will come to realise that the way to beat West Ham is to rough them up a bit.  Something I haven’t seen mentioned is that perhaps it was the light grey 3rd kit that was to blame – making our players invisible to each other as it had done for Ferguson’s Manchester United back in 1995.

Unnatural Selection

Manuel Pellegrini made two changes from the team that started against Southampton.  Mark Noble replaced Pedro Obiang in the centre of midfield and Marko Arnautovic returned in attack in place of Grady Diangana.  The return of Arnie was eagerly anticipated although, with his most effective work done as a lone striker, would he struggled to adapt to a role alongside Lucas Perez?   The Noble for Obiang switch came as a surprise.  With Pablo Zabaleta still absent through illness, Obiang would have been a more solid option and better suited to supporting stand-in right back, Michail Antonio – as he had at St Mary’s.  At least, we managed to fill all the seats on the bench this time.

Past Performance and Future Success

With the exception of Declan Rice and Lucasz Fabianski few came out of the game with any credit.  Perez, Noble and Angelo Ogbonna were particularly poor with Noble even trying a repeat of the tackle that got him a red card at Leicester.  Robert Snodgrass looked totally spent while Felipe Anderson rarely got a kick under the close supervision of the Burnley defence.  Antonio had some decent moments going forward in the second half but Cresswell was mostly anonymous.  Ogbonna had one of those games where his attention is mysteriously elsewhere and that lack of focus also crept into Issa Diop’s display.  Arnie was off-the-pace and possibly a start came too early for him.  The net effect was that, despite plenty of the ball, there were few cohesive passing movements, no penetration and minimal goal threat.  At the other end Burnley opened up the Hammer’s defence at will.  Of the substitutes: Diangana showed enterprise during the brief period of the game where West Ham applied late pressure; Andy Carroll did at least test the Burnley keeper with one header; and debutant Xande Silva also had a decent attempt on goal.

Looking Through The Transfer Window

The majority of the long term injured will not make any contribution to the remainder of this season and so, with the January transfer window about to open, it will be telling whether any new recruits make their way to the London Stadium.  With the manager wanting to play a passing game, attack with pace and defend narrow and high, there are several pieces of the jigsaw that are missing.  The team is badly deficient in central midfield where no-one has the necessary pace, vision and passing range to orchestrate play.  Better alternatives at full-back and other mobile striker options are also needed.  The recruitment of Samir Nasri seems to be a done deal but will there be any more than that?  Will it be a case of muddle through to the summer with what you’ve got, or will there be further recruitment to push-on during the second half of the season?  The conundrum is that if the season fizzles out then some of the better players will start to look elsewhere.  Contracts really are no guarantee once a players head is turned.

West Ham travel to the North-West to face Burnley in the Claret & Blue Derby

With the midpoint of the season reached, West Ham are favourites to overcome Burnley this afternoon in the battle to claim the best of the rest title.

When the referee Craig (I didn’t see it) Pawson blew the final whistle shortly before 10 pm on Thursday evening, the curtain was brought down on the first half of the Premier League season. 190 matches played and 190 to go. The midpoint is almost always reached at some time between when we sit down for our turkey and pudding on Christmas Day, and when the decorations come down on Twelfth Night at the beginning of the next calendar year.

And didn’t we bring the first half of our season to an end in some style. Hands up if you thought after four games had elapsed and we were pointless, that we would be sitting in ninth place in the table at this stage, with a points tally that was closer to a Champions League qualification place than the bottom three. Add to that a (typical West Ham?) squad ravaged by injuries, then our position is all the more remarkable.

Even when we lost at home to Watford last week, I didn’t hear anyone blaming the board or the manager or the stadium. Most shrugged their shoulders. Never mind, we’ll just have to win at Southampton on Thursday evening. And so we did with two splendid goals from the “ever coming to terms with the Premier League” record signing Felipe Anderson. The first was a splendid shot from outside the area, despite the distraction of poor positioning by the referee. The second was a goal that we scored after breaking from a corner at Boult-like breakneck speed to score within about ten seconds of Southampton’s corner being taken, expertly finished off by our new Brazilian. It was reminiscent of goals that I’ve seen us concede in recent seasons from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City, which made it even more pleasing to note that we now have players with pace ourselves.

I thought that the team played well in all positions and heads didn’t go down when the Saints put up a contender for the season’s scrappiest goal. As it went in it didn’t look right and I felt sure that it should be disallowed but I didn’t really know why. Fabianski had performed miracles to keep it out (as he does consistently in every game), and we were unlucky that the referee was unable to see the ball punched into our net. Never mind now, all’s well that ends well, and we justifiably won the game against an in-form Southampton team.

After the six games played yesterday we have fallen to eleventh but a win today would lift us up to the dizzy heights of seventh. That’s right, top of Premier League 2 if you discount the elite top six who occupy those places regularly. And that is exactly where our initial aim should be. To finish the best of the rest. Our competitors for that spot are likely to be Wolves, Everton, Watford and Leicester, and it was good that only the first named of that quartet won yesterday, surprisingly beating our unpopular North London neighbours. Many of our fans relished that result on social media, but I took another view, and looking at the bigger picture I would have preferred a draw in that game to help our own position in the league table.

Burnley are in big trouble, unlike last season, and even in the unlikely event of them beating us today, they would still be in the bottom three. Bookmakers make us even money favourites to win today, which is almost unheard of when we are the away team. Burnley are approaching 3/1 with 23/10 for the draw.

Correct score odds for the most popular scores are:

1-1: 11/2; 0-1: 13/2; 1-2: 15/2; 0-2: 17/2; 0-0: 9/1; 1-0: 10/1; 2-1: 10/1; 2-2: 11/1.

First goalscorer odds show Chicarito and Arnautavic as favourites but are they fit enough to play? At the time of writing this piece I don’t know. Based upon recent form which shows that Burnley have lost six of their last seven games, and we have won five of our last six, then this should be easy. But having watched our team for sixty years now I know that no game is easy, as I’ve seen us slip up so many times in this position. But providing the legs aren’t too weary, with this game coming not much more than sixty hours after the last one ended, then I’m looking for us to make it six wins from seven. We’ve already smashed our record for points gained in a calendar month with 15, so let us hope that figure has risen to 18 by shortly after 4 o’clock this afternoon.

On The Sixth Day Of Christmas: Six West Ham Wins In December Please

Never mind geese-a-laying, it’s a sixth win in December, three more points and seventh place in the table that are the numbers on offer from today’s visit to Burnley. Can West Ham also manage to get seven bottoms on the bench?

The only time I have ever read anything negative about Sir Trevor Brooking was the account of a fan who encountered the entire West Ham team on the London bound platform of Southampton Central station after a game at The Dell back in December 1971.  Perhaps disillusioned after scoring but then being substituted by Dave Llewellyn in a 3-3 draw, Brooking was the only player who refused to autograph the then 12-year-old’s match programme.  I don’t suppose, for a minute, that the team still travel by train to Southampton but was speculating as to whether the reason for only six substitutes on Thursday night was because Karen Brady had not bought enough Supersaver tickets (or collected enough Persil tokens) to get seats for the whole squad.    Surely, even with the club’s lengthy injury list, there were other young players available who would have benefited from a first team match-day experience!

The decision to bounce the West Ham match at St Mary’s to the day after Boxing Day means that the Hammers continue to bat second during the holiday round of games.  With the dust having settled on all of the Saturday matches there is now an opportunity for our boys to leap into seventh spot of the Premier League going into the New Year; a state of affairs that would have seemed fanciful in the first few weeks of the season.  The ‘best of the rest’ tussle is usually an ever changing competition but ourselves, Wolves, Everton and, maybe, Leicester look to be the most likely contenders.  Hopefully, any ambition that exists will have more staying power than a Tottenham title challenge.

Ironically, today’s opponents, Burnley, were the best of the rest from last season but in a complete reversal of fortunes now find themselves as the weakest but one link in the Premier League table.  It was always destined to be difficult for a club of Burnley’s limited resources to sustain any momentum but the speed of their decline has been surprising.  With Sean Dyche a graduate of the Fat Sam School Of Dour Percentage Football it is odd to see Burnley so porous in defence.  After a run of poor results, Dyche will be looking to get his players fired up for today’s game while ensuring that defensive discipline is maintained.  Today’s tasks for the Hammers will be to match Burnley physically, effectively repel their set piece aerial threat and find a way through or around a crowded defence.

Of the ten first team players who were absent in midweek, Pablo Zabaleta and Marko Arnautovic are reportedly to be assessed in late fitness tests, while Javier Hernandez is regarded as a major doubt.  All the other invalids are said to be definitely unavailable.

If Zabaleta has recovered from illness he will most probably be the one defensive change from the Southampton game in place of Michail Antonio.  Elsewhere, Felipe Anderson, Declan Rice and Robert Snodgrass are certain starters but after that selection becomes more problematic – either due to uncertainty over availability or failure to impress.  Antonio deserves to keep a starting berth but where is it best to slot him in?  Will Manuel Pellegrini want to start with both or only one out of Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang – each have their particular strengths but neither are able to fully orchestrate play, pull the midfield strings or switch play intelligently on a consistent basis.  None of Lucas Perez, Grady Diangana or Andy Carroll did anything on Thursday that would stake a claim for a starting place: Perez doesn’t work hard enough; Carroll looked out of control; and Diangana needs to develop far greater strength before he can be considered for anything other than cameo roles.

In an ideal world, I would love to see the return of Arnautovic but fear it is too soon for him to be risked.  There has been a lot of talk about Anderson being the new Payet but we do not need to become a one-man team once again; Arnie is well placed to divert some of that pressure.  Perhaps a front three of Anderson, Arnautovic and Antonio would be a fearsome combination – at least the triple A’s shouldn’t run out of energy!

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Burnley are likely to be without Brady, Lennon, Defour (all injured) and Lowton, who is serving a one match suspension.  They will select two from their range of identikit strikers in an attempt to intimidate the West Ham defence.

By the time the next Hammer’s game comes around, West Ham may well have added Samir Nasri to their squad.  If that happens it will be interesting to see how he is deployed – more likely as a deep lying playmaker rather than in an attacking wide midfield role which was more typical at Arsenal and Manchester City.  Nasri is not a long term solution but he could be a short-term fix to an obvious gap in the make-up of the team.

Today’s referee is David Coote from Nottingham.  He is a new one on me although he was, apparently, the fourth official at St Mary’s in the week.  This will be only his fifth Premier League appointment of the season.

Lawro appears to have got stuck in a loop predicting 2-0 defeats for West Ham whereas Merson continues to be generally supportive, going for 3-1 away win.  In a table based on Lawro’s predictions to date, West Ham would be in 15th place with 18 points, below both Fulham and Burnley.  The Hammers have already broken their own record for most Premier League points in December and a sixth win of the month would extend that tally even further.  I don’t see this be a free-flowing open game but if/ when West Ham get their noses in front anything could happen.  A 2-0 win, first double of the season and sitting proudly in seventh place would make for a very happy new year in my world.

On The Third Day Of Christmas: Will My True-Loves Send Me Three Away Points

West Ham seek to improve on their unimpressive record of just three wins from the last sixteen visits to the home of the Saints.

A week is a long time in football.  It has been a week in which West Ham’s unlikely European ambitions suffered a reality check; and where it was all change at the top with Liverpool suddenly six points clear and Manchester City dropping down to third.  It will now take all of Guardiola’s legendary man-management skills to go out and buy a brand new £200 million defence in the January sales.

Having been denied a traditional Boxing Day fixture, the Hammers travel to the south coast to face Southampton in the televised Cinderella match.  The challenge of keeping sufficient beer, nuts and mince pies in reserve has been a difficult one.  The useless OPTA stat of the night is that if Charlie Austin manages to find the net (highly likely) then he will have scored a Premier League goal on every day of the week – apparently becoming the 26th player to do so!

A little while back this game could be viewed as one component of an eminently winnable run for the Hammers that would see them surge into the top half of the table.  The Saints were a struggling, dispirited side, .  However, since the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl (a name that will quickly become a commentators favourite alongside Nuno Espirito Santo) there has been a rapid resurgence in Southampton fortunes.  Their win against Arsenal was largely down to weak defending by the Gunners but having followed that up with a win against Huddersfield, they will be full of confidence.  The home side’s lowly position, in any case, was entirely down to the ludicrous decision to appoint serial failure Mark Hughes as manager (who makes these decisions?) and it is difficult to look beyond Huddersfield, Burnley and Fulham for the relegation places.

Injury problems continue to plague West Ham and, although there is some talk of a Marko Arnautovic return, it would be a huge surprise if he turned out tonight.  Assuming that Fabian Balbuena is unavailable then his replacement by Angelo Ogbonna may well be the only change from the side that started against Watford.  In an ideal world, Manuel Pellegrini would probably like to rest some of the older legs (and even the younger ones) but he has limited scope to do so.

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The most recent West Ham match refereed by tonight’s man-in-the-middle, Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire), ended in an 8-0 over Macclesfield in the EFL Cup.  What chance of a re-run tonight?  After an early season red mist where he made three dismissals in his first four games, Pawson has settled down to become an enthusiastic yellow card issuer only.

Sky Sport’s pundit Paul Merson is expecting a Christmas cracker of a 2-2 draw while Lawro (the BBC Football Expert as he likes to think of himself), fresh from correctly forecasting the West Ham – Watford score, has another 2-0 defeat in mind for the Hammers.

Volatility is the preserve of every football fan.  In this world, our team can swing from unbeatable to clueless in the blink of an eye, and with it expectations from tonight’s match have been significantly downgraded.  I am sure that things remain on a much more even keel in the dressing room and that, as we speak, Pellegrini is devising a cunning plan on his chalkboard and Powerpoint flip charts to take the wind out of Southampton’s sails.  The worry is that an effective balance in midfield is still elusive for the Hammers and it struggles in both providing support to the defence and acting as a springboard for attacks.  The hosts are likely to take advantage of these shortcomings with both Redmond and Ings coming into a run of form.

Despite the manager’s more enterprising approach to the game there are still too many unnecessary, unforced back passes to the keeper for my liking.  I have never seen the stats for this and would be interested to see how we compare with others.  With Lucasz Fabianski having a pass success rate below 50%, the player in possession might just as well hoof it up-field.  With few exceptions, I consider every back pass to the keeper to represent a failure in the team’s ability to create space and opportunity.

I would love to see a win but sense that three points could well be beyond us given the lengthy injury list; a draw would be a creditable return.  I am also hoping that the strange free-kick routine – the short pass and stop before putting in a cross – finally pays off tonight.

What are the odds on a West Ham win on the South Coast today?

A win big enough to move up to eighth in the table is priced at 200/1 upwards.

At the conclusion of the Southampton v West Ham game this evening we will have reached the halfway point in the 2018-19 Premier League season. A season that began so disastrously with four defeats in the first four games has turned around significantly, and we find ourselves in twelfth place in the table prior to this game. A defeat or a draw will see us remain in that position, but a win by any score will lift us into the top half of the table. We will be joint ninth with a 1-0 win, and ninth on our own by any other score. I think that even the most optimistic amongst us cannot see us winning by five goals to overtake Everton in eighth position.

We face a Southampton side lifted by the appointment of their new Austrian manager, and the Saints are favourites to win the game with the bookmakers at around 6/5. West Ham are second favourites at 23/10 slightly ahead of the draw at 12/5.

Correct score odds for the most popular scores are:

1-1: 11/2; 2-1: 7/1; 1-0: 15/2; 1-2: 9/1; 2-0: 10/1; 0-0: 10/1; 0-1: 10/1; 2-2: 10/1; 0-2: 14/1

First goalscorer odds:

Ings 4/1; Austin 11/2: Gabbiadini/Chicarito 13/2; Long/Carroll 7/1; Obafemi/Antonio/Perez 15/2.

If you fancy a West Ham defender to score the first goal then Diop or Ogbonna are priced at 45/1; Masuaku at 50/1 and Zabaleta 70/1.

You can get identical prices on scoring the last goal too.

A couple of scorecasts that I like the look at for fun bets are West Ham to win the game 2-1 with the first goal scored by Diop at 265/1 or Masuaku at 310/1. Once again you can get roughly the same odds (or even longer) by substituting the last goal for the first goal and looking around at the various prices being offered by the wide range of bookmakers all offering hundreds of prices.

A win big enough to move up to eighth in the table is priced at 200/1 upwards. It would be good (although extremely unlikely) to achieve that! I’ll just settle for the three points and a position in the top half of the table.