Match preview: West Ham v West Brom

Match preview: West Ham v West BromWest Ham v West Brom, Premier League, March 16, 2009

With just ten games remaining for the Baggies, it is starting to look a little bleak and to say they need three points from their visit to Upton Park would be an understatement.

The relegation battle has been one of the most intriguing parts of this Premier League season but Tony Mowbray’s side have slipped out the picture due to a woeful run of results.

Three Premier League home wins on the bounce against Manchester City, Spurs and Middlesbrough in December and January evoked memories of another “Great Escape,” but since the victory over Boro in mid-January they have picked up just one Premier League point.

West Brom have neither scored enough goals this season nor had a solid enough defence to keep them in the Premier League. At times they have been praised for their free-flowing football but they have scored just six goals away from home all season. A goal difference of -29, by far the worst in the division, tells its own story.

Nevertheless, a win at Upton Park and the whole picture could look a little different as they would be just four points from safety with successive home games against Bolton and Stoke to come.

All relegation threatened sides need a messiah and Marc-Antoine Fortune has impressed since arriving on loan from Nancy and the Frenchman is 8/1 to score the first goal and 20/1 to score two or more goals.

When West Ham lost 3-2 at the Hawthorns in September, Hammers fans would be excused for thinking that their side would be battling for a UEFA Cup place at the end of the season.

Gianfranco Zola has performed a mini-miracle at Upton Park since his arrival and the Hammers have a superb opportunity to cement seventh place which could well see the return of European football next season.

The former Chelsea striker has also gone about his job in a dignified manner despite a lengthy injury list which now includes Dean Ashton, Valon Behrami and Jack Collison. Also missing from this match is the in-form Carlton Cole who is suspended following the bruising encounter at Wigan last time out.

As a result, Zola may plump for either Freddie Sears (10/1 to score two or more) or January signing Savio Nsereko (33/1 to score two or more) to play alongside David Di Michele, one of the unsung heroes of the Premier League season.

All signs point to a home win but traditionally West Ham often lose to teams they are expected to beat and West Brom’s need may just be that little bit greater to secure all three points.

101gg predicts: West Ham 1 – West Brom 2 (18/1) & Chris Brunt to score first (20/1)

Full match odds can be seen here.