The view of the opposition: West Brom v West Ham
We provide analysis and the best bets for the Hammers' Premier League visit to the Hawthorns on Saturday.
Their 3-1 loss to Brighton last weekend suggests this is a good time to play West Brom.
The Baggies are now winless in two games, having been held to a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke before the international break.
Perhaps even more significantly, Tony Pulis’ side have scored just eight goals in their last 13 league outings, meaning the West Ham defence – emboldened after keeping their maiden clean sheet of the campaign in Monday’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield – should be confident of keeping things tight at the back.
The fact the game is being played at the Hawthorns might be no bad thing, either.
Against Brighton, West Brom recorded over 50 per cent possession for just the 10th time in 98 top-flight matches under Pulis. Interestingly, their record in those matches is an unspectacular four wins and six defeats.
The key for Slaven Bilic’s side, then, could be to allow their opponents to have the ball and attempt to hit them on the counter-attack.
The back three/five the Croatian deployed against Huddersfield are all reliable defenders, while Andre Ayew – who scored against the Terriers after being introduced as a substitute – and Michail Antonio both have the legs to stretch the West Brom backline.
Conceding three goals to a team outside the top seven was unusual for the Baggies – it didn’t happen at all last season – although Pulis would probably point to a lack of preparation time due to the international break and a rare poor performance from Ben Foster as the reasons for their tardiness.
That might be the case, but given he was beaten by one tame long-range effort and fumbled another (only to be saved by the offside flag), it would be remiss of the Hammers not to pepper Foster’s goal from range, especially early on.
It is also worth remembering that the two top-flight fixtures between these sides last season produced 10 goals in total.
If West Brom defend as poorly as they did against Brighton, and West Ham kick on from claiming their first three points of the season, then Saturday’s game might be just as entertaining.
Michail Antonio to score West Ham’s first goal –
West Ham to score first –
Over 2.5 goals –