Under-pressure West Ham boss Sam Allardyce knows that a defeat at Barnsley on Good Friday will probably spell the end of their push for automatic promotion and could ultimately cost him his job.
The Hammers’ form has seemingly deserted them at the most crucial stage of the season and with only one win in their last seven games, they have slipped down into the play-off places.
While Southampton and Reading have been on fire, Big Sam’s superstars have failed to live up to the expectations of the Upton Park faithful.
Fortunately for the Irons, they visit a side that are in equally poor form and they will fancy their chances of finally getting back on the winning trail.
The Yorkshire side have lost seven of their last nine Championship fixtures and are priced as 333/100 outsiders to take all three points at Oakwell.
The draw is priced at 5/2 and these odds could interest some punters, considering West Ham did go on a run of five consecutive stalemates in March.
As well as West Ham’s ability to secure shut-outs on the road, the Tykes have been experiencing severe difficulties in finding the back of the net. They have only managed to score in two of their last eight league matches and on both occasions it was only a solitary goal.
When the two sides met back in December, it was a sixth-minute strike from Papa Boupa Diop that settled the tie and bwin is offering 25/4 on a repeat of that scoreline.
Despite their slump in form, West Ham still prefer to be on their travels and will see Friday’s clash as the perfect opportunity to restart their promotion push with a club record 12th away win of the campaign.
They have not lost away from home since being pummelled 5-1 by Ipswich in January and since then have picked up impressive wins at Blackpool, Cardiff and Peterborough, keeping two clean sheets along the way.
As well as West Ham’s ability to secure shut-outs on the road, the Tykes have been experiencing severe difficulties in trying to find the back of the net.
They have only managed to score in two of their last eight league matches and on both occasions it was only a solitary goal.
Weighing it all up, it is worth backing Barnsley not to score a goal at generous odds of 29/20, or alternatively to back the Hammers to win to nil, which is priced at 2/1.
It is this second option that looks most appealing and successfully backing it with the free £25 bet on offer for anyone joining bwin.com would return £75.
Such an outcome would certainly ease a bit of the pressure on Allardyce and go some way to backing up his prickly assertion in midweek that critics of his team selection are talking ‘bollocks’.
West Ham to win and keep a clean sheet @ 2/1 Barnsley to fail to score @ 29/20
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