West Ham United will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they take on West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Wednesday.
Just a gameweek and a half remains for an eventful 2020/21 Premier League season to come to an end and the penultimate round of fixtures will come to an end on Wednesday at the Hawthorns, where West Bromwich Albion will play hosts to West Ham United.
West Brom have not had the most peachy of times upon returning to the Premier League for the 2020/21 season. Right from the get-go, the Baggies have looked like one of the favourites to drop down to the Championship and the prophecy has unsurprisingly been fulfilled. Sam Allardyce, though, has forged a resilient side as the weeks have passed by, but the resurgence has been too little too late.
West Ham, on the other hand, have been one of the surprise packages of the season, having gone from a team that narrowly staved off relegation last term to being European hopefuls in the current campaign. However, the Hammers have suffered a downturn in form at the worst possible time, managing to rake in just four points from their last five games, which has seen them drop from 4th to 7th.
The reverse fixture, played at the London Stadium back in January, saw West Ham narrowly eke out a 2-1 win over West Brom, with Michail Antonio netting the winner. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
West Bromwich Albion
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) May 17, 2021
Sam Allardyce does not have any fresh injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of West Ham United. On Wednesday, the West Bromwich Albion manager will be bereft of the services of just two first-team players, with Branislav Ivanovic (hamstring) and Robert Snodgrass (back) having played for the final time this season.
Sam Johnstone, who has recently been linked with West Ham United, will take his rightful place between the sticks for West Brom, who will be set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation against West Ham. At the heart of the defence, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi should pair up, with Conor Townsend and Darnell Furlong being the two full-backs.
Up ahead in midfield, the onus will be on Okay Yokuslu to keep things tight, while Conor Gallagher will provide defensive support to the Turk. The Chelsea loanee, though, will also have the impetus on him to bring about the forward thrust from the middle of the park and link up with Matheus Pereira.
Pereira will invariably be the key man for West Brom on Wednesday, with his creative prowess and an eye for goal. Mbaye Diagne will lead the line against West Ham while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and former West Ham winger Grady Diangana will be the two wide men.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Diangana, Yokuslu, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles; Pereira; Diagne
West Ham United
Like his counterpart in the West Bromwich Albion dugout, David Moyes hardly has any major issues to deal with ahead of the trip to the Hawthorns. On Wednesday, the West Ham united boss will have to make do without just a couple of first-team players at worst.
Manuel Lanzini (thigh) is a certain absentee for the Hammers, but Arthur Masuaku could be in contention to feature, judging by the comments made by Moyes during his pre-match presser. Masuaku, though, is unlikely to start, with Aaron Cresswell taking his place on the left side of the West Ham defence.
On the right flank, Vladimir Coufal, who has been a fabulous addition for West Ham, picks himself while Craig Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna ought to form the central defensive partnership. In goal, there is no looking past Lukasz Fabianski, who continues to be a solid presence for the Hammers.
Up ahead in midfield, the return of Declan Rice has come at the perfect time, as West Ham look to shore things up in the middle of the park. The English international will have usual partner Tomas Soucek alongside him in the double pivot, with the duo looking to keep a lid on Matheus Pereira’s output.
As for the attack, the creative impetus will come from the boots of Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma, who scored his first goal for West Ham last time out against Brighton & Hove Albion. The onus, though, will be on Jesse Lingard and Michail Antonio to rediscover their best touch and put Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal under immense pressure.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Lingard, Benrahma; Antonio
- West Ham United won the reverse fixture 2-1 and could complete the league double over West Bromwich Albion for the first time since 2005/06.
- West Brom have won just two of their last 16 Premier League meetings with West Ham (D9 L5), winning 1-0 in April 2014 and 4-2 in September 2016.
- West Ham are three points away from equalling their highest Premier League total of 62, set in 2015/16. The Hammers have already set a club record of 17 Premier League wins in a season.
- West Brom have only managed to win one of their last 16 midweek Premier League games (D5 L10), losing all six such games under Sam Allardyce.
- Sam Allardyce has lost all four of his Premier League games against West Ham since leaving the club in 2015.
Player to Watch
It is no secret that Declan Rice has had a huge role to play in West Ham United being as resilient as they have been this term. However, in his absence, the Hammers looked constantly suspect on the defensive front, which should be corrected to some extent against West Brom.
Rice will also be eager to get his sharpness back in the final two games of the season in order to get himself prepared for the UEFA European Championship. As far as the immediate future is concerned, Rice will hope to help West Ham book a place in Europe next season and the solidity he brings to the table will be crucial.
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 West Ham United
This is a game that could be too close to call, despite the gulf in quality between the two sides. Indeed, West Bromwich Albion are an extremely difficult team to beat at the Hawthorns and West Ham United are unlikely to have clear-cut scoring opportunities by the bagfuls.
Meanwhile, West Ham have gone nine Premier League matches without a clean sheet and that run is likely to continue, considering just how well Matheus Pereira is playing at the moment. However, on the opposite end, the quality of Michail Antonio should shine through, thereby paving the way for a narrow 2-1 win for David Moyes & co.