There were quite a few eyebrow-raising results in the Championship in midweek – isn’t there always? – but one stood out head and shoulders above all the others.
West Ham United’s 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Tuesday was one of the most surprising results of the season and not just because Ipswich have spent most of the year looking like they quite fancy playing League One football next season.
West Ham’s capitulation was the most peculiar factor. A team, lest we forget, that are top of the Championship, two points clear of a Southampton side that have gone through a dodgy patch of form.
Manager Sam Allardyce prides himself on his teams being tough to beat and will not have taken such a trouncing well at all.
Next up for the Hammers is their grudge match against Millwall, who were actually on the end of one of the most predictable scorelines of the night on Tuesday.
The Lions lost 2-0 at home to Watford, entirely in keeping with their recent form, and the odds for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at Upton Park reflect the current position the clubs find themselves in.
Millwall are just one place above the Championship trap door and as such are 21/4 outsiders in bwin’s 3way odds market, with the draw at 14/5 and West Ham understandably the favourites at 53/100.
Given Millwall’s goalscoring record, the 29/20 that West Ham win to nil is lump-on material.
Even taking to account West Ham’s last result, those odds are tempting enough. The Lions just cannot score goals and it is edging them ever closer to the relegation places.
Kenny Jackett’s side, who have lost four of the last six, have failed to score in 15 of their 28 league games this season, more than any other side in the division. Eight of those blanks have come in their 13 away games and they haven’t found the net in seven of their last ten fixtures.
Their record against the teams in the top half is also a huge concern – they haven’t won any of their 13 fixtures and have drawn a blank on ten occasions.
Meanwhile, I firmly believe that Ipswich defeat was an anomaly for the Irons. Only twice previously all season had West Ham conceded more than two goals in a game and their defence is normally assured.
Allardyce has always had the philosophy that a clean sheet is the most important thing and everywhere he has gone he has built from the back – it accounts for his success at Bolton and failure at Newcastle – and there is no doubt in my mind that Fat Sam will be putting all his emphasis on West Ham shutting Millwall out.
Given Millwall’s goalscoring record, the 29/20 that West Ham win to nil is lump-on material. West Ham, who have added some quality to their squad in the form of Ravel Morrison, Ricardo Vaz Te and Nicky Maynard, have kept eight clean sheets at home this term and four of those have come against teams in the bottom half.
You just can’t see Millwall scoring so that 29/20 is a golden bet. If you think that West Ham are unlikely to hand out their own hammering then the 7/4 that the Irons win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 is essentially the same bet but at slightly better odds.
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