West Ham United v Wolves: Back Lage's men to gain a result in east London
Wrong time for Hammers to hit ropey run
West Ham have been overtaken in the coveted fourth spot by Manchester United and a rejuvenated Arsenal following the latter's Thursday win against Wolves. It's provided a slight sea change in the betting in the Top Four Finish market, with David Moyes' side out to a massive 28.0. Arsenal are now into 1.99.
A second curveball came in the shape of the Europa League draw in the last 16 with Sevilla their next opponents. It's a great tie, but it could be difficult progressing to the quarter-finals against the competition specialists. The Hammers are 14.0 for the glory in the Winner market.
Whether we can call their recent run a sticky pitch is pushing it, but one win in six and four draws is far from ideal at such a crucial, and congested part of the season.
Their recent xG numbers are dipping slightly with their recent Newcastle 1-1 registering 0.85, which came off the back of the 2-2 at Leicester, but still they managed just 0.75. The Watford 1-0 again saw them struggle to pass the goal mark at 0.91 xG.
Although it's not all negative, West Ham's shot conversion rate is 13.7% this season (45 goals from 329 shots), their highest on record in a Premier League campaign (since 1997-98). So it suggests they aren't creating many but they are taking them. But the Newcastle performance worries me. Admittedly the Toon are in a run of form, but the Irons were poor with the ball and looked clueless at times, while Moyes was left scratching his head saying: "I'm more miffed that we've not played well again, I'm pulling my hair out that I just can't get one or two players back at it."
Vladimir Coufal is out following a hernia operation. Ukrainian forward Andriy Yarmolenko has been given some time off in the wake of the conflict in his home country.
Can the over-performing defence stand firm?
The Old Gold are just two points behind Sunday's opponent with a game in hand, and that signals progress from a league position stance, but as pointed out in the Football Only Better Podcast; Jake Osgathorpe has questioned whether their over-performance in defence can be sustained.
They did take a bit of a pummelling in north London on Thursday night as the Gunners threw everything at them in the second-half, although their backline stood firm until late goals on 82 minutes and on injury time robbed them of what would have been a precious point. Mikel Arteta's team did have four times more shots than Wolves, and it was fair result. A win would have been their fifth successive away win - a record that has stood for 42 years.
They'll have to go again to beat that.
Wing-back Nelson Semedo suffered a suspected hamstring injury in the second half. Jonny Otto replaced him in midweek and could be a ready-made starter.
The sides they conquered on the road previously were Spurs, Brentford, Manchester United and Brighton. Three clean sheets and two 1-0s in that run make them a very dangerous opponent for Sunday, although they've not had as clean a week as West Ham in terms of preparation.
Hit gold with Double Chance play
As a West Ham fan it's a fixture I don't hold too much confidence in, and as a bettor the heart can sometimes rule the head with sentimental horses, but it's a no-no to cloud the both and on the face of it, I cannot get involved, even though they won the fixture 4-0 last term. I occasionally do lay, and certainly at evens, it's in the price remit, but the away record of Lage's side makes them a tradeable option at 4.10, and it's a bit of a Peter Cook bet playing on Wolves, and getting two options running for us.
A lot of noise is made of the Thursday/Sunday games - notably in the Europa League, but I have never bought into it, and it's just the same as Wednesday/Saturday for the Champions League teams.
Wolves' best win rate in the Premier League is against West Ham (55% - W6 D1 L4), and with the price quite hefty on the Old Gold, I am going to play the Double Chance bet at around 1.92.
They won at Old Trafford at the turn of the year, with a complete performance earning a 0-1, and that's the sort of game I can see again. Quite a few others do with the layers going somewhat cautious on the Under 2.5 Goals front with a price of 1.67. Daniel Podence caused United all kinds of problems that day, he played well too against Arsenal and that creativity could open up a couple of chances.
Two trades on Correct Score
Having already swerved the Under bet, we can zone in on the fact that the visitors have conceded just 10 goals all season away from Molineux, and just three on the road in 2022. As always when the Under 2.5 is too short, I like to have a go at a couple of Correct Score bets.
The 0-0 gives us a platform to trade from the 9.4 initially, and if we can get to around 35 minutes. For example, staking £11 on the 0-0 at 9.4 and laying 6.1 at £16 gives a green book all round and profit if it stays that way or not. There's a 4/5 price too on the Sportsbook at 4/5 in the Both Teams To Score 'No' market, which makes some appeal.
Wolves beat the Hammers 1-0 at Molineux too and the 11.5 once again throws up the chance to go all green.
Out to lay Antonio
Only against Everton and Southampton (five each) has Wolves' Raul Jimenez scored more Premier League goals than he has against West Ham (four). However, three of his four strikes against the Hammers have come at Molineux. The Mexican is price at 15/8 for Anytime Goalscorer and using the Betbuilder with the Under 2.5 Goals gives a nice 4.27 price.
The unsung Craig Dawson has scored in West Ham's last two games. A third would be some feat and playing the same bet with Dawson pays 13/1.
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