West Ham Vs Sunderland: Prediction & Preview

Here we are then, zero points later from our two home games (albeit against quality opposition) and back on the road. Away days have been anything but fruitful this season and our inability to score is obviously a huge factor in our current predicament. Incredibly, we have managed just two goals on our travels and the last one was bafflingly 104 days ago - 104! Lose and we find ourselves at best six points adrift of safety, effectively seven given our embarrassing goal difference. If this isn't make or break - it is definitely make or begin to bend rather precariously.

by GMac88 Friday, 13 December 2013 03:29 PM Comments

Here we are then, zero points later from our two home games (albeit against quality opposition) and back on the road. Away days have been anything but fruitful this season and our inability to score is obviously a huge factor in our current predicament. Incredibly, we have managed just two goals on our travels and the last one was bafflingly 104 days ago - 104! Lose and we find ourselves at best six points adrift of safety, effectively seven given our embarrassing goal difference. If this isn't make or break - it is definitely make or begin to bend rather precariously.

I'm desperately hoping that our defeat against Spurs at least carries some benefits to tomorrow and beyond. By that I am referring specifically to Gus Poyet sacrificing a midfielder to play Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher up front. Our current crop of midfielders just aren't capable of holding their own as a two against any Premier League three - let alone one whose aspirations belong in Europe. It is a lesson that cannot be swept under the carpet just because we are facing West Ham. This is one of those 'winnable' away fixtures - if there is such a thing for Sunderland.

So what can we expect to see from Sam Allardyce's men? An interesting feature of their style at home is their very evident territorial advantage (the ball spending more time in their opposition's half). Now that fact alone serves little interest as surely it's natural for a home team to sieze that particular advantage. However - in all but one game against ball-shy Aston Villa the Hammers have enjoyed less of the ball. Only Everton and Chelsea have shaded territorial advantage at Upton Park. Even Manchester City, despite having 62% of the possession, failed to take the territorial advantage.

All this means is that we can expect West Ham to let us have the ball, but not without working extremely hard just to retain possession. Their work ethic as you might expect is high and they press at most given opportunities. This high pressure and work rate has its downfalls, as they have already conceded 5 goals in the last ten minutes of home games losing a very valuable four points in the process. This could be an exploitable trend if we are able to get West Ham chasing the ball for much of the game.

 

Likely Line-up:

I'm hoping to see a few changes to be honest. One change is Andrea Dossena to come back in for Ondrej Celustka, who, whilst being a complete lunatic, seems to offer more balance to the side than Celustka's inclusion forcing Phil Bardsley to left back.

I'd be massively disappointed if one of the front men were not dropped in favour of a midfielder, and also disappointed if the man dropped was Altidore. I believe he has shown considerably more than Fletcher recently and deserves the chance to continue doing so.

The midfield should be interesting. Jack Colback was poor against Spurs and may well be dropped as a result. For me, it's time Lee Cattermole was reintroduced in his place and he alongside Seb Larsson and the ever present Ki Sung-Yeung should make up our midfield. This would allow Emanuele Giaccherini back in the side on the wing with Adam Johnson.

Mannone, Bardsley, O'Shea, Brown, Dossena, Ki, Cattermole, Larsson, Giaccherini, Johnson, Altidore.

 

Prediction:

In a game of cataclysmic importance, I - pretty strangely - feel some vague strand of confidence. Perhaps its my unwillingness to accept that we really could be relegated, I am not sure. Provided the team sheet is a good one, we might just sneak a late 0-1 win and, with a home game against Norwich on the horizon, suddenly the world may seem a brighter place.