ENGLAND PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDERLAND - WEST HAM UNITED
Let me take you back in time, it was late September, West Ham had just beaten Fulham at Craven Cottage and sat in a dizzy 5th spot in the Premier league. Two months later, the Hammers are in financial turmoil and some £40-£100m in debt, depending on what sources you choose to believe, administration proceedings might have already begun and they have not won in seven starts !
They now sit a single point outside the drop zone and all is not well in east London, they desperately need a result to stop the rot and raise the spirits of their loyal and long suffering supporters. Last week, they at least managed a clean sheet, their first in 25 starts and that is something to build on, it is not like they have been playing badly, especially away from Upton Park, where the level of expectation is not so great. Leaving aside the visit to Old Trafford, they have collected four points from four away starts, pretty much dominated possession and have created an average of over 17 attempts on goal. Their lengthy injury list is slowly clearing and they have one or two players performing close to their peak, especially Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy. Gianfranco Zola, as you might expect from his time coaching the Italian U21 team, is giving youth a chance and extended playing time to West Ham's very promising youngsters.
The Hammers need a win, this is the first in a run of three away games in their next four starts and with trips to Liverpool and Chelsea up next, a visit to Sunderland starts to look less intimidating !
Sunderland have not been playing well recently, they did manage to snap a four match losing run, with a win at Blackburn last week, but were outplayed for much of that game and a good 45 minutes, is not much out of 450 ! They still have some defensive problems and three of their squad, including key striker Kenwyne Jones, have been on international duty in the Caribbean and returned very late in the week from Trinidad and Tobago. I would not have rushed back either to a cold, wet and snowy North East !
I am taking West Ham and prefer the bigger odds available on the level ball option. Despite what has gone on recently, squad wise, they remain a top 8 team at least and I expect them to come good, sometime soon.
5.5 points West Ham level ball 2.58 asian line.