West Ham v Wolves, Premier League, March 23, 2010
Upton Park plays host to a true six-pointer on Tuesday night as West Ham look to put some distance between themselves and the dreaded relegation zone. Having been postponed twice, due to weather and the FA Cup, this could be a very tight encounter with so much at stake.
Whilst it looks like the current bottom three of Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley will be heading to the Championship, one can never rule out late survival heroics and as they occupy the next two places, West Ham and Wolves have to be positive and go for the victory.
It looks like West Ham have it all to do in this match and the home support will be looking for their side to push for all three points. The Hammers are a point behind the visitors and in terms of the form book are lagging behind Wolves and should be thankful to Portsmouth for beating Burnley and Hull in recent weeks.
Four successive defeats, albeit to the top three, have severely dented confidence in Gianfranco Zola and his side. West Ham had looked like they were on the up with successive home wins over Birmingham and Hull in February but they have been comprehensively beaten by Manchester United (3-0), Chelsea (4-1) and Arsenal on Saturday (2-0).
Throw in the home defeat to Bolton (1-2) and it is easy to see why many Hammers fans will be worried over the remaining weeks of the season. At Arsenal on Saturday, West Ham failed to take their chances when they came, most notably with an Alessandro Diamanti penalty missed before half time, and failed to capitalise on the Gunners being down to ten men.
Zola has cited minor injuries to playing weakened teams at Stamford Bridge and the Emirates but the Italian will play his first choice side against Wolves. The diminutive Italian has pinpointed this match and the encounter with Stoke on Saturday and Scott Parker will be restored to the starting line up with Carlton Cole leading the line and Alessandro Diamanti floating behind in search of a breakthrough.
Wolves could well be worth a punt simply because of their form over the last month. Mick McCarthyâ€™s side has had the luxury of picking the same team for six successive games and the side from Molineux have played well in recent weeks even though results havenâ€™t always gone for them.
Since the FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace in early February, Wolves have impressed but only claimed two wins, at home to Spurs and away at Burnley. They played well without reward against both Chelsea and Manchester United in this run and came close to securing a famous victory at Villa Park on Saturday.
Jody Craddock, who has been a rock at the back and an unexpected goal scorer up top, has entered contract negotiations with the club after his excellent season and the rumours suggest the vultures are circling around Kevin Doyle after a good campaign.
This match will not be for the faint-hearted and Wolves will be the more confident so it could be a tough night for the home fans.
101gg predicts: West Ham 1 â€“ Wolves 1 (6.38)