West Ham looks to continue off its very nice first half of the English Premier League season on New Year’s Day when it hosts West Brom at The Boleyn Ground in a game the hosts should win and a solid, fair-priced bet.
West Ham United vs. West Bromwich Albion, Thursday 15:00 (NBC Sports Live Extra, Premier League Extra Time (USA), 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT): Sixth-place West Ham United (9-4-6, 30 GF-23 GA) welcomes 16th-place West Ham United (4-5-10, 18 GF-28 GA) to East London and The Boleyn Ground on New Year’s Day for this Week 20 fixture between two clubs with vastly different goals in mind.
Oddsmakers have installed West Ham as -117 favorites on the Three-Way (Winner) line with visiting West Brom +350 underdogs and the Draw priced at +275 (bet365) while the Total Goals is in this match is at a familiar 2½ Under -117 (Over +110, Skybet). The Both Teams To Score odds here have the Yes priced at -117 (Ladbrokes, No -111) and this seems like the type of game where both sides could each score, although the weather forecast in London on Thursday calls for a High temperature of 52° with Cloudy conditions so the rain and cold could affect play but the host Hammers should surely get at least one goal against this often paltry WBA side.
A type of prop bet that nobody knows is out there? (And maybe for good reason?) To Score A Hat-Trick has players like Hammers defender Reece Burke offered at odds of +50,000 (500/1, bet365), but before falling in love with the price of a 50,000 longshot, first ask yourself how many defenders you can remember getting a hat-trick in your life. Exactly. And even a star striker in the English Premier League would be hard-pressed to score 3 goals in a match and probably only Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero—when he’s starting and healthy and playing in a game with a Total set at 3½—or Chelsea’s Diego Costa at home at Stamford Bridge in certain select situations would even be worth looking up the odds. There are really only two guys in European soccer worth popping any money down on with a To Score A Hat-Trick Prop blindly and we all know who they are. A fun bet for sure, but more like a lotto ticket.
West Bromwich Albion FC
West Bromwich Albion (2-2-5, 5 GF-12 GA, Road) have more draws (5) than wins (4) and more losses (10) than both combined so the Baggies decided to fire manager Alan Irvine after losing to Stoke City on Sunday. But Relegation Fears will still be a big part of the the Baggies diet from here on out. On the road, West Brom has played relatively low-scoring games (17 goals in 9 games, 1.89 gpg), in great part to their extremely anemic road goal output (5 goals, 0.56 gpg). The Baggies have just two players with multiple goals—21-year-old Burundi striker Saido Berahino (7, +210, Anytime Goalscorer, bet365) and Craig Dawson (2)—as we start 2015, so, teammates like one-goal scorers Stephane Sessegnon (+400), Joleon Lescott, Craig Gardner, Brown Ideye (+275), James Morrison, Graham Dorrans, freshee Silvestre Varela and others need to pick it up in the second half or race potential relegation, and, for some, even being sold over the summer transfer window. Relegation is a lot like evolution except relegated soccer teams get a chance to get back to the top tier in their countries, whereas birds will never be able to return to their dinosaur roots. They know what’s up. Get up and get away from the sheer madness happening on The Jungle Floor.
West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster may be up against it in this one but the English netminder has to be used to “being up against it” by now, playing for a team that has found wins very hard to come by of late. When these two played earlier this season at West Bromwich, West Ham won 2-1 and a repeat scoreline could very well happen (Correct Score West Ham 2-1, +800, bet365).
West Ham United FC
Along with Southampton, West Ham (6-1-3 Home, 15 GF- 9 GA) has been a really nice story in the first 19 weeks of the Premier League and with a great manager and fan base, a new stadium and a nice mix of players in the future, the upstart Hammers can potentially be one of the surprise teams in England’s top flight and maybe one of the teams to finally knock one of the Fab Five from their perennial spot in the top four in the league table. But, easier said than done. The Hammers leading scorer is the dynamic Diafra Sakho (7 goals)—almost always a good candidate for an Anytime Goalscorer prop (+140, bet365)—while Enner Valencia (3 goals, +140), Stewart Downing (4 goals, +400), Andy Carroll (3 goals, +125), Carlton Cole (2 goals, +200), Mauro Zárate (2 goals)—likely headed to QPR after manager Sam Allardyce said the Argentinian forward just isn’t good enough for his club—and Morgan Amalfitano (2 goals) have all shown they can contribute. And with goalkeepers Adrián and Jussi Jääskeläinen, West Ham is in good hands. This is a team to watch and possibly profit from both now and in the future. Don’t sleep on the Hammers.
Best Betting Approaches and Trends
The trends in this series are a mixed bag and offer no real guidance as both teams have gone through periods of being average or below average although as discussed, West Ham has looked pretty decent in the first half of this season. The Hammers are 2-3-2 against WBA (12-11 goals) here at home and West Ham is 5-4-6 (23 GF-21 GA) overall against the Baggies. The last two meetings between these two here at Boleyn Ground have seen 10 goals be scored with both matches ending in draws, the last occurring last season (3-3). And with a number of potential goalscorers likely to be out there on Thursday, the Both Teams To Score prop seems logical for this type of game, although the Baggies 0.56 gpg road average makes it absolutely impossible to recommend it here although it does make a West Brom To Win To Nil (+240, Skybet) bet look awfully appealing.
With the taste of success in its mouths and 3-1-2 form mark in its L6—West Brom is 1-1-4—expect West Ham to get its 7th win at home against a West Ham team with just 5 road goals and which just fired its manager and stay smack dab in the middle of the race for a potential UEFA tournament qualifying spot next season...which would make probably make both mascot Hammerhead and manager Allardyce’s and heads explode, creating a short-term crisis at Upton Park and need for some janitorial clean-up should the Hammers end up finishing in the top 6 in the Premier League. So far so good.
PREDICTION: West Ham 2 West Brom 0
Premier League Picks: West Ham -117, West Ham Draw No Bet -275 (bet365)