West Brom v West Ham: Hammers to stay on track in Euro tilt
West Ham have been pushed out of the race for the top four, but Kevin Hatchard believes they'll boost their Europa League hopes with a victory at relegated West Brom.
Alisson goal sums up Baggies' season
Having suffered the ignominy of conceding a last-gasp winner to a goalkeeper, as Alisson secured a remarkable and emotional goal for Liverpool in a 2-1 victory, West Brom boss Sam Allardyce chose to focus on what he perceived as refereeing mistakes rather than his team's deficiencies. In truth, Albion had played well, but even when it no longer matters, they are struggling to turn performances into wins.
The Allardyce gamble hasn't paid off, and we'll never know if the man he replaced - Slaven Bilic - would have kept the club in the top flight if he'd been afforded the opportunity.
Allardyce is yet to commit to an extended spell as manager, and with the Championship having become one of the most competitive leagues anywhere in the world, it's certainly a hard road ahead.
It's been a grim campaign. WBA have won just five of their 36 top-flight matches, they have scored at an average of fewer than one goal per game, and they have leaked goal at an average of nearly two per match. Unlike Fulham, who briefly flirted with the notion of a great escape, West Brom have looked doomed for months.
Allardyce could name an unchanged line-up after coming so close to a decent result against Champions League-chasing Liverpool. Robert Snodgrass and Branislav Ivanovic are still on the sidelines because of injury.
Hammers can still salvage European dream
It was fun while it lasted, and frankly quite remarkable, but West Ham's bid to qualify for the Champions League has surely ended in failure. The Hammers have slipped five points off the pace at time of writing, but a Europa League spot is still well within their grasp.
As is so often the case with overachievers in this kind of position, West Ham lost form at the worst possible time. David Moyes' men have taken just four points from an available 15 across the last five matches, and the East London side will also rue the loss of a 3-0 lead in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal that preceded that slump. The goals have dried up, with just five scored in the last five games, and successive 1-0 home defeats to Chelsea and Everton hammered the final nails in the UCL coffin.
It has still been an astonishing campaign, and Moyes has completed his footballing rehabilitation after his disastrous time at Manchester United, and further failures at Real Sociedad and Sunderland. Not only has he shown he can still drag a team out of danger, but he has actually produced an attacking framework to harness the technical quality of his expensively-assembled squad. West Ham have outscored Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal over the first 36 league games of the season, and that takes some doing.
Arthur Masuaku and Manuel Lanzini are both carrying knocks, while Said Benrahma is pushing for a start after a scoring a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Brighton.
Hammers are worthy favourites
West Brom have shown that they are still scrapping for results, even though they have nothing to play for, and Allardyce will want to get one over on his old club. However, West Ham are rightful favourites in the Match Odds market at 1.65, and I'll happily boost that by combining it with an Over 1.5 Goals on the Sportsbook's Bet Builder to get us to 1.8. The Hammers have won two of their last four on the road, and seven of their last nine PL away games have featured at least two goals.
If you want to be a bit bolder, you can back West Ham to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 2.2. Eight of their last 13 top-flight road matches have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land.
Referee to have a quiet night
West Ham have picked up just four cards across their last four games, and they are 16th in the league when it comes to yellow cards shown. West Brom have only picked up two more cautions than the Hammers over the season, and have had just six yellows in the last four games, and two of those were derbies against Aston Villa and Wolves.
Referee Graham Scott has shown 32 yellow cards in 13 games, although he has sent off four players this term. I think he'll have a serene game to officiate, so I'll go for Under 30 Bookings Points at 2.0.
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