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West Ham V Norwich at Upton Park : Match Preview
Published : 31 Dec 2012 13:31:29Rss feed
West Ham V Norwich - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
Allardyce looks for positive reaction to defeat
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce wants a positive reaction from his players when they welcome Norwich to Upton Park on New Year's Day.
The Hammers slipped to a 1-0 defeat against fellow promoted side Reading on Saturday and have now won just one of their last eight Premier League fixtures.
Norwich, who had previously been on a 10-match unbeaten run, have lost their last three and Allardyce is hoping his players can end the congested festive period on a high.
"We need to bounce back," he said.
"We've got to make sure we become better at creating and taking our chances, otherwise it's going to be tough.
"The balls into the box haven't been given enough quality to open up a defence as everybody starts tightening up at this stage of the season."
Allardyce has had to deal with a host of injuries in the past couple of months, with key players such as Andy Carroll (knee) and Mohamed Diame (hamstring) still sidelined.
The 58-year-old believes the number of players unavailable to him of late has led to a slip in form that leaves the Hammers six points clear of the bottom three.
He said: "We haven't had our best team out for ages and since we beat Chelsea, our points total has diminished rather than kicked on from there.
"Normally when you get a result as big as that one you kick on and get more and more results as the euphoria keeps you going.
"The injuries have unfortunately kicked in and we've not been able to pick up the results we wanted to.
"It's about getting the players back fit and then keeping them fit, and then we'll be OK but that's got to happen very quickly now."
The recently recovered trio of Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison and Alou Diarra were all in the matchday squad for the defeat at Reading with only the latter not making it onto the pitch at some stage.
But, despite welcoming a few players back from injury, Allardyce must now cope without the suspended duo of captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins for the match with Norwich.
"Losing the game (at Reading) was hard enough, but to lose two key players in the last game of the suspension period makes it even worse," he said.
"If they had got booked on Tuesday, there's no suspension, but they go and get booked at Reading and now we have to make do without them."
With the Hammers on a run of poor form Allardyce is expecting a tense atmosphere at Upton Park for the visit of the Canaries.
"I think it is going to be a big test for our nerve for the first time this season," he said.
Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson will serve a one-match ban after collecting a fifth yellow card.
Striker Steve Morison (thigh) is doubtful after limping off in the 4-3 home defeat by Manchester City, as is captain Grant Holt (hamstring), so on-loan Tottenham forward Harry Kane could lead the attack.
Defender Steven Whittaker (hip) and winger Andrew Surman (hip) continue their rehabilitation, while England goalkeeper John Ruddy (thigh) also remains sidelined.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton feels his team have shown enough character during their three-match losing streak to remain positive for the challenges ahead in 2013.
The Canaries have endured a miserable return from their run of festive fixtures, with defeat at West Brom halting a remarkable 10-game unbeaten league run which was swiftly followed by a 1-0 home loss to Chelsea on Boxing Day and then the reverse to champions Manchester City at the weekend.
Hughton, though, will take his squad to West Ham confident the group can maintain a safe distance from themselves and the battle for survival.
"We have gone through a difficult period, but we have also been against really difficult opposition," said Hughton.
"We have been close in every game, lost by just one goal each time, so I think there are certainly a lot of positives we have taken from these defeats.
"However, we have to be realistic - we are going to lose games and it is tougher for us against the better opposition.
"But every match you play is an opportunity to bounce back and we will look to do that against West Ham."
Hughton added: "If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if I would be happy with the points tally we have at this stage, then yes, I would be.
"Now it is about getting back into good form and back to picking up points.
"Everyone is looking to get to 40 points, so we would like to get there too."
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