Did you know that West Ham haven't lost a Premier League game at home since August? Maybe you already knew that, I certainly did not know that until having a quick look at their results. They have beaten Tottenham, Liverpool twice (once in the cup) and Chelsea at fortress Boleyn Ground, or is it fortress Upton Park?
Away from home they have taken up the role of giant killer, beating us on the opening day of the season, Liverpool (again), Manchester City while drawing at Manchester United and Chelsea. Typically Leicester City and Tottenham have beaten them at White Hart Lane and the King Power stadium. Why couldn't they do us a favour by taking points off the two teams above us?
So looking at the West Ham results this season, both at home and also against top sides you would be forgiven for having some concerns about the game this lunch time. I am strangely very confident about this game, perhaps it is my belief in the new balance we have found, maybe it's the whole law of averages thing (yes I know it doesn't exist) I am not sure what it is, I just feel that we owe West Ham a beating and recently we have done pretty well in this fixture, even if they have often been very close matches. If I had placed a few pennies at Sportingbet Promotional Code: MAXBONUS
As for the line up today, well it's pretty obvious really. The only change we can expect will be Petr Cech coming back in after injuring himself at centre forward in the Swansea match. *Sigh* that game still stings but let's leave that one there.
Iwobi should continue on the left, Alexis on the right with Elneny and Coquelin in the middle. I have a sneaky feeling that today will be a good one for Danny Welbeck. I know I was hoping for a big display last week against Watford but I reckon he will be amongst the goals today. I really hope so because I'd love for him to take the next step in his development.
We should have Aaron Ramsey back on the bench which is good news for us. Gives us some really good options from the bench for both closing out a game or injecting an extra goalscorer if needed.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
I'm not sure we can get through a preview of the game without talking about the threat of Dimitri Payet. He has been pretty damn fantastic since signing for West Ham. His free kick goal last weekend against Crystal Palace was pretty special wasn't it? I hope Arsène has been having plenty of words to Gabriel, Koscielny and Coquelin about being careful not to give away cheap free kicks in and around our penalty box. Especially in our penalty box, that wouldn't be good.
That side of the pitch looks pretty interesting. Bellerin and Alexis on our side vs Payet and Cresswell. Think we'll get a few photographs of Payet and Alexis tussling for the ball after the game. Hopefully we can pin Payet in his own half, making him do most of his work the wrong way rather than testing Bellerin and Gabriel.
So this along with the City game will be our most difficult of our remaining fixtures. Leicester City face Sunderland away so any slip ups from us and we can pretty much kiss goodbye to any minuscule title hopes that we are desperately clinging onto, or at least I am. Tottenham face Manchester United and I think they will beat them at WHL so we are going to have to win today to keep pace with them.
Let's see if this newly balance team is the real deal. I hope so.
Update: Having had a look at that graphic, I wonder if it is wrong. I want to have a look at some heat maps of our full backs since the Iwobi inclusion and Alexis switch. I reckon Monreal might start to push further forward in this system while Bellerin holds a little more with Alexis ahead of him. I will have a look at it after the game.