Talking to the Boleyn Ground faithful, one would, incredibly, almost believe their side was going through a crisis.
Unbeaten in seven games, West Ham might have been overtaken by Reading last weekend, but they are still within touching distance of the promotion places and remain a tough team to boot.
So tough, in fact, that they are good value to beat Leeds United at Elland Road this weekend, at a tempting price of 3/2, while the draw is available at 9/4.
Some Hammers might think this reasoning is bonkers, especially considering the trouble they have had scoring over the last couple of games, as Sam Allardyce’s side stuttered to two disappointing home draws against Watford and Doncaster Rovers.
Then again, West Ham are on the road this weekend, where they generally tend to fare quite well: their 5-1 thumping by Ipswich at Portman Road aside, the Hammers have won three times away from home since the new year, even netting twice in a spectacular win in Cardiff.
West Ham’s attacking troubles (despite buying Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz Te over the winter break) will matter less, as Leeds will hardly wait in their own half with an entrenched mentality.
Rather, expect Neil Warnock’s men to throw themselves at West Ham as they did against Southampton, something which should allow the Irons to counter at will and grab the win they need.
Many have cited Warnock’s desire to beat a side he blames for Sheffield United’s relegation back in 2007- though this could work against his side, as Leeds might just attack with too much zeal, lose their balance and be caught on the break.
Looking back at both teams’ performances over the past two weeks, one quickly notices that their past four games have all seen less than three goals being scored – testament to just how well both Warnock and Allardyce drill their defences.
Expect Neil Warnock’s men to throw themselves at West Ham as they did against Southampton, something which should allow the Irons to counter at will and grab the win they need.
At 12/5, one could pocket some pretty solid winnings of £85 if they successfully place the free £25 bet they can get for joining bwin.com on a West Ham win with less than 3.5 combined goals being scored.
It’s hardly an outside bet, with Jack Collison’s encouraging interview (“it’s up to us to kick on”) proving that West Ham aren’t ready to make the same mistake three times, after two consecutive 1-1 draws.
One thing is certain: a draw is highly unlikely, as both sides cannot afford to drop further points at this stage of the season.
Leeds, for their part, are outsiders for the win at 17/10, perhaps because they have struggled to score in recent times, with Warnock’s return only confirming how dependent they are on players like Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio.
The duo have provided Leeds with 20 league goals – nearly half of their 54 total – while Ross McCormack hasn’t netted in over a month, as the Scottish striker continues to be undermined by his poor first touch.
In conclusion, the smart money appears to be on a West Ham victory and I’ll be backing them to triumph in a game of under 3.5 goals to provide more lucrative potential returns than from their 3Way price.
Recommended bet: West Ham to win a game of under 3.5 goals @ 12/5
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