After five Premier League games without a victory and Sam Allardyce’s future being questioned by fans, we’ve now got the perfect chance to pick up some momentum ahead of a fairly difficult run of fixtures in December,
Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Fulham the lifted Hammers fans’ spirits and its given us some belief that Big Sam really does have what it takes to turn things around and start delivering on his target of a top-ten finish. Fifty points might be a bit of an ask, but as long as we start seeing a year-on-year improvement then you can’t really complain.
However, despite the feeling that tonight’s meeting with rock-bottom Crystal Palace should be an easy three points, you can’t help but wonder whether history might continue to repeat itself at Selhurst Park.
We haven’t secured back-to-back league wins since the end of our promotion season, which is a run that Allardyce will no doubt have bee analysing ahead of this evening’s fixture. Quite why we’ve struggled to put any kind of run together since then is a mystery, but if there was ever an opportunity to put an end to it it’s a game against a side struggling for results and bottom of the Premier League.
On the flip-side, though, we have not lost the first fixture in a calendar month in 19 attempts. It is, in fact, two years to the date that we last lost an opening fixture of the month, which was a 2-1 home loss in the Championship in 2011. You can’t really read much in to that sort of run without concluding that it’s a complete fluke, but it would certainly pretty cool if we could continue that form.
Against Fulham we were a lot better than we had been in previous weeks. Playing a recognised striker was a welcome surprise to everyone – even Modibo Maiga – and it worked a dream as we dominated midfield and actually looked liked scoring with almost all of our attacking play.
So we should expect to see a similar, if not identical, line-up at Selhurst Park tonight. A twitter poll hinted that fans would like to see Maiga given another go up front instead of Carlton Cole, while it was no surprise to see that Kevin Nolan is the fans’ favourite for being dropped for Ravel Morrison.
But whatever happens, and however Sam decides to approach the game, confidence will be high in the Hammers camp and there really isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t expect to leave South London with three valuable Premier League points firmly in the bag.
That said, it’s Tony Pulis’ first home game as Palace manager and his players will be out to prove something to their new boss, while the home crowd will be expected to get right behind Pulis from the off.
Verdict: Form points to a draw, but confidence is high. Three points.
Crystal Palace (20th, 7 points)
Palace are without Glenn Murray (knee), Jack Hunt (ankle), Paddy McCarthy (groin) and Adlene Guedioura (rib).
Jerome Thomas is touch and go with a groin problem, but Jonny Williams could start.
West Ham United (15th, 13 points)
Winston Reid (ankle), Andy Carroll (foot), Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder), Mladen Petric (calf) and Razvan Rat (hamstring) are all still sidelined.
Carlton Cole could start ahead of Modibo Maiga, while George McCartney will be hoping to make his second consecutive start after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury.
Last 10 meetings:
|25 Feb 2012||Championship||Boleyn Ground||D 0-0|
|1 Oct 2011||Championship||Selhurst Park||D 2-2|
|29 May 2004||Division One Play-Off Final||Millennium Stadium||L 1-0|
|12 April 2004||Division One||Selhurst Park||L 1-0|
|1 Oct 2003||Division One||Boleyn Ground||W 3-0|
|5 May 1998||Premier League||Selhurst Park||D 3-3|
|3 Dec 1997||Premier League||Boleyn Ground||W 4-1|
|6 May 1995||Premier League||Selhurst Park||L 1-0|
|8 Oct 1994||Premier League||Boleyn Ground||W 1-0|
|20 Apr 1992||Division 1||Boleyn Ground||L 2-0|
Match in Numbers:
7 – Crystal Palace have only scored seven Premier League goals so far this season, which is the lowest in the division.
4 – The Hammers are without a win in their last four meetings with Palace.
50 – Carlton Cole needs just one more goal to bring up 50 league goals for the Hammers.
8 – Palace have lost eight of their 10 top-flight matches.
2 – It is two years to the date since the Hammers last lost the opening fixture of a month.
4 – West Ham hold the best defensive record away from home in the top-flight, shipping just four goals in six matches on the road.
300 – The Hammers are just four goals away from 300 away goals in the Premier League.
Head-to-Head (all competitions):
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||For||Against||GD +/-||Win %|