West Ham v Wolves: Hungry Wolves too strong for a weak West Ham
West Ham host Wolves on Saturday evening, as the home side look to overturn their slide into the relegation battle. Steve Rawlings previews the live match here...
West Ham v Wolves Saturday June 20, 17:30 Live on Sky Sports
Sorry Hammers haven't improved under Moyes
Despite a 5-0 drubbing on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, at home to the defending champions, Manchester City, West Ham started the campaign brightly enough, bagging 11 of the next 15 available points. And a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, one week after a 2-0 home win against Manchester United, saw them go six games unbeaten after the City defeat.
Manuel Pellegrini's reign fell to pieces after the bright start though and the Hammers won just two of their next 12. The Chilean's 18-month tenure came to end on December 28, following a 2-1 defeat at home to Leicester that saw the Hammers slip to 17th place in the table, and for the second time in his career, David Moyes was given the job the very next day.
West Ham captain, Mark Noble, urged the fans to get behind Moyes, who had sounded confident with his new 18-month contract.
"I think there's only two or three managers with a better Premier League win record. That's what I do, I win. I'm here to get West Ham wins and get them away from the bottom three."
The new manager bounce saw the Hammers batter Bournemouth 4-0 on New Year's Day but they've won just once since. They've picked up only five of a possible 27 points and although they're out of the bottom three, it's only on account of goal difference.
When the Premier League was suspended due to the Coronavirus outbreak, West Ham's vice-chair, Karen Brady, claimed the only fair thing to do was to cancel the season, a stance she swiftly went back on, but given how the Hammers limped through the first couple of months of 2020, I can see where she was coming from.
It was a dire start to the year, and five points is the joint-worst Premier League haul of 2020. Following Thursday's stalemate with Sheffield United, Aston Villa have also only won five points, and they're still odds-on for the drop, but they've played two games less than West Ham. Norwich look dead and buried at the bottom of the table so there's probably only two places to fill but odds in excess of 2/1 about West Ham getting relegated look fair and I'll be surprised if they're an appreciatively better side after the break.
More European action on the cards for Wolves
In stark contrast to West Ham, Wolves are enjoying another fine season, having finished seventh in the Premier League last term following promotion from the Championship in 2018.
That seventh placed finish earnt them a spot in the Europa League and their very last game before the break was an excellent 1-1 draw away at Olympiacos in the first leg of the Round of 16. Wolves are trading at just a shade over 6/1 to win their first European trophy and they're ticking along nicely in the Premier League too.
Since losing to Watford on New Year's Day, the runaway league leaders, Liverpool, are the only team to have beaten Wolves in the Premier League this year and they're unbeaten in their last five. They're currently sitting seventh in the Premier League and participation in next season's UEFA Champions League is a possibility, whether or not they go on to win the Europa Cup.
Wolves are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League matches in the capital and they'll be confident of making it ten against a side that have lost their last eight Premier League games against sides starting the day in the top half of the table.
Nuno's men to prove too strong for a weak West Ham
It's very hard to make a case for the home side given they've won just four of 14 Premier League matches at the London Stadium so far this season. West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League Home table and Southampton are the only side to have won less points at home. The Saints have 14 compared to West Ham's 15.
The stalemate makes some appeal given Wolves have drawn more away games (six) than they've won (five) or lost (three) but there have only been three draws so far this season at the London Stadium and I'm more than happy to play the visitors at2.26.
Wolves manager, Nuno Espírito Santo's best 100% record against any opponent in his league managerial career is against West Ham and the three encounters between the two clubs since Wolves returned to the top-flight have gone the way of Saturday's visitors, without West Ham even scoring. Wolves beat the Hammers 1-0 away at the start of last season and they've beaten them at Molineux 3-0 (last season) and 2-0 back in December.
Wolves currently sit fifth in the Premier League Away table, compared to only 11th in the Home table, and I expect them to collect another three points on the road on Saturday.
A second half Wolves rally well worth a tickle
Wolves to win in the outright market is a confident selection and I'm also having a small interest in the Half Time/Full Time market.
West Ham have lost more points from winning positions than any other side in the Premier League this season (22), while Wolves have won more points from losing positions than anyone else this term (21). And the visitors were trailing at the break in each of their last three away victories - at Norwich, Southampton and Spurs.
They trailed the Canaries 1-0 before winning 2-1, were 2-0 down to the Saints before battling back to win 3-2 and they rallied from 2-1 behind to beat Tottenham in their last away game in March.