Having initially surged into European contention on their Premier League return, West Ham’s post-Christmas struggles make the visit of Swansea City this Saturday a key game if they are to get their season back on track.
It is a match of equal importance for the visitors, for while their upcoming Capital One Cup final date means the Swans still have direction, Michael Laudrup will want to sort their indifferent league form before heading to Wembley.
With victory key for both, the 3Way betting odds are predictably tight and see Sam Allardyce’s side slight favourites at 6/5, with the Jack Army 9/4 and the draw also 9/4.
If West Ham can get anywhere near the form that saw them beat Chelsea and Arsenal at Upton Park earlier in campaign, then a win with a 0-1 handicap looks possible at 16/5.
But since they turned over Rafa Benitez’s side on December 1st, the Hammers have hit a run of one win in 12 in all competitions, with a lack of goals at the heart of their problems.
Given the home side’s lack of confidence and the toughness Swansea showed in their midweek draw at Sunderland, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was goalless at the half-time whistle, which is priced at 39/20.
Yet with Allardyce having a full complement of strikers for the first time season, he would expect one of Andy Carroll, Carlton Cole, Marouane Chamakh or Ricardo Vaz Te to get his team the opening goal at 4/5.
And considering the Jacks’ current run of just two goals in their last five away trips (they’re 2/5 to go under 1.5 goals again), a single strike might be enough.
New customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin would win £155 should the Hammers pick up a 1-0 triumph.
Alternatively, a shorter price of 14/5 is available for West Ham to triumph by a one-goal margin regardless of the scoreline (draw in the 0-1 handicap market) and that looks to be the value call.