West Ham should have enough quality in their side to stay up. Since the Gold and Sullivan takeover the Hammers have performed on a more consistent basis and with Carlton Cole back in the team and the likes of Scott Parker and Alessandro Diamanti able to create plenty of chances for him they will be confident of finishing above three teams. But a quick look at the Iron’s fixture list will convince you that they will have to be careful and make sure they get enough wins at Upton Park.
Just one victory on the road all season – on the opening day against Wolves at Molineux – added to the fact that they face a horrific run of away matches to finish the campaign suggests it is their form at the Boleyn Ground that will get them safe. Trips to Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Fulham are all still to come for Gianfranco Zola’s men and it is hard to see much of a return from those five fixtures especially as the East Londoners have taken just four points from their last 36 available on their travels.
Their remaining half dozen matches on home soil read much more favourably and include the visits of Bolton, Wolves, Stoke, Sunderland, Wigan and Man City. None of these sides have particularly impressive away records this season and the Hammers will probably feel that amassing 10 points from these will see them safe. But with many of these opponents also scrapping at the bottom of the table it could be harder to get the necessary wins than it looks on paper. And Zola agrees that the home form needs to stay on track to ensure top-flight football for his side next season.
He told West Ham’s official website last month: “The home games are going to determine it. It is a tricky one because having such difficult matches away, you don’t want to slip up at home. This is a team that when it plays with confidence it can be a surprise for anyone.”
This reliance on the results at home, though, could cause the pressure to escalate to unbearable levels, especially if wins aren’t forthcoming in the next three games at the Boleyn Ground – all against sides who are capable of digging in and frustrating sides. The Iron’s vociferous home support could get edgy if things aren’t going their way and it will call for the players to stand up and be counted. If not then it could go right down to the wire in East London.
“I am not a betting man but my predictions for this weekend is a home win for West Ham in their relegation six-pointer”