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For the sake of their fans, West Ham need to find form at home

25 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
For the sake of their fans, West Ham need to find form at home

The Hammers' away form has been impressive, but the visit of Norwich is an opportunity to replicate that at Upton Park

As the final whistle echoed around Astra’s Stadionul Marin Anastasovici at the start of August, a shred of early discontent started to bubble within the West Ham support.

The Hammers’ European dream was over before it had even begun.

New boss Slaven Bilic immediately shouldered the blame for their weak showing.

Questions over his appointment were initially sated following the seismic victory over Arsenal three days later, but chastening defeats at home to Leicester and Bournemouth soon brought them all back.

Was he really the right man for the job?

A look at the Premier League table now goes some way to answer that.

And although it is still incredibly early in the domestic campaign, three wins on the bounce against Liverpool, Newcastle and Man City means that the Hammers’ 12 points from six games is their best Premier League start since 2008.

That is no mean feat.

Almost as surprising as West Ham’s current league position, though, has been their form away from home.

Three of their four victories have all come away from Upton Park – making our West Ham special for the club to win eight or more away league matches this season a snip at 7/4.

But despite the praise Bilic is receiving for their performances on the road, he, more than most, will be wary of the significance of home form – particularly this year.

This campaign marks the final season at the famous Boleyn Ground before the club uproot and move to Stratford and the Olympic Stadium.

But for some reason, the Hammers have struggled to perform in front of a home crowd.

And while victory over Newcastle a fortnight ago gave a brief respite, only a win over Norwich this weekend will do – an outcome that is far from straightforward.

The Canaries have enjoyed a reasonably solid start following their return to the top flight, with boss Alex Neil extolling the virtues of organisation and solidity that Bilic has largely brought to East London.

It is little surprise, then, that they are priced at 9/4 to grab three points.

Nathan Redmond (9/2 to score anytime) and Cameron Jerome (9/4) have shown sharpness in attack, while Russell Martin (10/1) has displayed his nous at either end of the pitch, with the captain already boasting three goals to his name this campaign.

And against West Ham, the visitors are more than capable of exhibiting that again.

While defensive diligence is commendable on the road, at home the Hammers’ faithful will expect more cutting-edge football.

And herein, could be the difficulty. Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna are undoubtedly assured defenders, but when there’s space to be exploited in front of them, it could be a tricky day for the duo – especially with the likes of Wes Hoolahan hovering between the lines.

This means West Ham’s attack will need to be razor sharp if they are to win this weekend.

Dimitri Payet (11/4 to score anytime) has settled well in England, Victor Moses (11/4) looks an excellent acquisition on loan and Cheikhou Kouyate (11/2) has been deadly from set-pieces.

But it is games like Saturday when they really need to turn it on.

There has been encouraging signs that they are finding their rhythm, so a Hammers win and over 3.5 goals at 11/2 is a tempting one.

Ultimately though, it will come down to Bilic as to whether a tweak in approach is the road to go down.

He will be deigned to compensate on defensive solidity in favour of piercing attack.

But if that is what is necessary to give the Boleyn Ground the farewell it deserves, then it is worth the sacrifice.

West Ham v Norwich betting

Premier League betting

READ: Fan v Fan: West Ham and Norwich discuss Saturday’s Premier League fixture