It might be a little bit too early for us to start bandying around the term ‘Six Pointer’ but with 18th in the Premier League table playing host to 19th there is no doubting that there is a lot at stake this evening as West Ham entertain West Brom at the London Stadium.
A win for the Hammers this evening would see them move out of the bottom three regardless of what happens in the game between Southampton and Crystal Palace at St Mary’s while if West Brom are to finally get their first win in 20 Premier League matches then they will have a keen eye on matters on the South Coast in their bid to move out of the bottom three.
There was no fixture in the final weekend of 2017 for West Ham as they now face two matches in two days but as big as another meeting with Tottenham will be on Thursday night, David Moyes will have to drill into his players that they simply cannot afford to not have both eyes on the task in hand, that of course being the visit of Alan Pardew’s West Brom outfit later tonight.
The last run out for West Ham came at the Vitality Stadium as they and Bournemouth played out a six goal thriller, it did look at one point as if a late Marko Arnautovic double would be enough for the East London outfit to snatch victory.
But they were undone by some poor officiating late on as Callum Wilson’s goal was allowed to stand when replays showed that not only was he in an offside position but he was also shown to have touched the ball over the line with his hand.
A galling decision for David Moyes to take and one that has ultimately cost his side two points in their battle to stay out of the bottom three, a battle that for all of the resurgent form as of late they are losing. However it is a situation that can be rectified later on.
If West Ham were punished by a poor decision on Boxing Day then West Brom profited from a poor one on New Year’s Eve. After giving on of their better performances since Alan Pardew took charge they then seemingly undone their hard work after a badly setup wall in preparation for an Arsenal freekick.
Republic Of Ireland international James McClean was late to join the wall and then he performed the cardinal sin which was to turn his back on the shot from Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean international’s effort then spinning of the back of McClean and past Ben Forster to give what at that time looked like giving Arsenal a slightly unwarranted three points.
Only step forward Mike Dean, just minutes later and more importantly with just a handful of minutes remaining he adjudged that Callum Chambers had handled from former teammate Kieran Gibbs’ speculative cross in the box, Arsenal players up in arms while Baggies fans given some end of year hope.
Jay Rodriguez slotted home past Petr Cech and West Brom picked up a deserved point in albeit controversial circumstances. That means that Alan Pardew has drawn four of the seven games in which he has been in charge of while West Brom boss but still that all important win eludes him.
The fact that they have gone half a season without picking up maximum points is frankly staggering and not to mention worrying also as no team has gone on that long a run without a win and also stayed up at the end of the season. The longest previous run to then also stay up was 15 matches, ironically also by West Brom.
So it’s not quite winner takes it all but the fact they are still in with a shout of beating the drop after such a barren run means that hope is not lost. Not only that but it would be even sweeter for Alan Pardew if he could get a win over one of his former employers.
Unfortunately for him though I think West Ham with the extra rest over the New Year will just be the little sharper and that coupled with home advantage means I think it will be they who move out of the bottom three with Stoke and Crystal Palace fans getting more and more nervous. West Brom fail to burst West Ham’s bubble.