WBA-MAD Preview: West Ham vs Albion
Joseph Chapman previews Albion's trip to West Ham.
The reverse fixture earlier on in the season between these two sides wasn't a particularly memorable one. Let's hope for all that attend the match on Saturday that the Hammers and Baggies play out a more entertaining game.
As we enter the final stretch of the season, both 'West' teams are comfortable. Both can improve their current position, but are not in any immediate danger. Indeed, both have exciting futures. Albion have overachieved this season, the league's lowest spenders in the summer, but prudent frees and loans have reflected excellent business onto the pitch.
The Irons, as expected, are comfortably mid-table on their return to England's top tier. Another club which has seen efficient business don in the playing staff department, the East London club have added Mo Diame, Joe Cole and Jussi Jaaskelainen for a combined total of, well, nothing.
The Baggies have enjoyed mixed results whenever they have travelled to the Boleyn Ground in the Premier League. In 2002, Jason Roberts netted the only goal in Albion's debut season in the top flight. In 2005, Teddy Sheringham scored the solitary goal as the Hammers took all three points. Since, in 2009 and 2010, there have been two draws (0-0 and 2-2). No Baggie will ever forget a certain 3-4 thriller in 2004 either.
Yet again, Steve Clarke will be revisiting one of his former clubs. The Scot, and current Albion head coach, left Chelsea in 2008 to become Gianfranco Zola's number two following Jose Mourinho's departure at Stamford Bridge. In 2010, he left by mutual consent and, after a spell out of work, joined up with Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool.
This will be one of the last occasions Albion will travel to Upton Park before its residents move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016, and with the away end's allocation of 1,500 sold out, it's sure to make for a good atmosphere. It certainly can't be any worse, from a viewer's perspective, than the Throstles' last outing to the Britannia Stadium.
Joe Cole is expected to be fit for the hosts after returning to full training. Stephen Henderson has been recalled from his loan spell at Ipswich after young goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel fractured his finger. Mark Noble is still out, recovering from a trapped nerve.
Albion will be boosted by the return of duo Graham Dorrans and Steven Reid. Dorrans played in both of Scotland's defeats over the international period, while Reid has recovered from a groin problem to challenge Billy Jones at right back. James Morrison is a doubt with a hamstring injury picked up on international duty. Zoltan Gera and George Thorne are long term absentees.
Match StatsIn the Premier League, these two sides have faced each other 9 times. The Hammers have prevailed on 3 occasions, while Albion have been victorious on 2. There have been 4 draws, including an incredible 3-3 draw at the Hawthorns in 2011. Names that relate to both clubs: Steve Clarke, Kevin Keen, Danny Gabbidon West Brom still haven't had an English scorer this campaign. West Ham have scored in 13 of their last 14 matches at home. Prediction 2-2
Source: WBA MAD
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