West Ham v West Brom

 

West Brom enter this game in 8th position, a magnificent achievement considering they have only taken 7 points from a possible 36 away from home.

A fine win last weekend against Stoke will see the Baggies in bullish mood, although they are stretched in terms of squad depth and quality.

Tony Pulis, the West Brom manager, has been vocal in his concern over the need for signings.

The sale of Saido Berhino saw Jake Livermore arrive, in a one-in, one-out move, but it is goalscorers he needs, not midfielders.

They are too reliant on the likes of James Morrison, who seems in the form of his life, and their lack of possession away from home, typically around the 30-40% mark, is one possible reason for their tendency to concede late goals as the players tire from chasing the ball.

Solomon Rondon is their top scorer but hasn’t scored since netting a hat-trick against Swansea in mid December and despite his quality, I feel Pulis may freshen things up and bring Hal Robson Kanu in to spearhead the attack.

They did beat Southampton away on New Years Eve, and in Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips have two terrific footballers who will have to be well shackled and this West Brom side has enough quality that they could cause West Ham problems.

Nyom nowhere

Allan Nyom recently declared he was happy to have missed the Cameroon national team’s African Cup of Nations victory, and I feel they may have been pleased too.

Defensively, I feel he is one of the Baggies weakest links; he is slow to close the ball down, he cannot change direction when defending due to the nature of how he defends with his arms behind his back, and he rarely blocks any balls into the box.

Against Stoke, the Potters had a field day down the Baggies right flank as Nyom and Matt Phillips struggled to stem the tide of attacks, and only desperate defending inside the box prevented a goal against.

For West Ham, I would expect them to throw the ball continuously down the weaker West Brom side, away from the likes of Chris Brunt and Nacer Chadli on the left, and then its up to Carroll et al to get on the end of the ball in the box.

Blunt Brunt

Chadli attracts two players which means his full back is often free for a set back

To prevent the likes of Robson-Kanu and Rondon scoring, you have to cut the supply, and despite playing as a left back since Nacer Chadli’s arrival, Chris Brunt has the quality to hurt teams if he is given time and space.

The Northern Irishman scored a cracker against Sunderland, picking up a second ball that fell outside the box, and he has been in fine form since his return from a serious knee injury which saw him miss EURO 2016.

In the Baggies formation, the attacking threat comes from the midfield getting up to support the front man or from getting the ball wide and delivering into the box for the likes of Rondon.

If you sit off Brunt he can punish you and Rondon’s three goals against Swansea could serve as a warning to West Ham that they will need to be full of energy to close the ball down when their more technical players are in possession.

With Brunt supporting the play from behind in his new deeper role as a full back, the danger for West Ham is they double up on Chadli as he is such a handful, which leaves Brunt free and he cannot be afforded the same time and space as Swansea did earlier in the season.