The usual two matches as part of the ‘Super Sunday’ show in the Premier League is down to one this week given Chelsea’s participation in the Carabao Cup final but the match which does take place is huge in the race for the top four.
West Ham United in sixth welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers in eighth to the London Stadium for a match neither dare drop points in as they chase a spot in with the elite of the European football landscape.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League channels. The build-up begins at 1pm with kick off inside the London Stadium coming at 2pm.
West Ham United
The Hammers are knocking on the door of the top four for the second season in succession, although recent results would suggest that they might just be finding the going a little tough to handle. They have only won one of their last five matches and have slid away from immediate top four contention. They need to get back on track and a home match here would appear to be the ideal time to do it.
The biggest problem for the Hammers in recent times is the chance creation has dried up. In their last four matches the highest xG they have registered is 1.11 and more will be expected of them than that. That is putting an awful lot of pressure on their defence, which is under scrutiny anyway because of the Kurt Zouma situation, and just two clean sheets in their last 10 matches – both against the bottom two – suggests they are struggling to cope. That is a combination which needs reversing.
This will be the second trip to the capital in the space of 72 hours for Wolverhampton Wanderers. They will be hoping for a much happier trip than the one they had on Thursday evening when they were beaten by Arsenal. Even before we get to the emotional low they will have suffered with that heartbreaking loss, the physical exertions they have put in having also played last Sunday might well catch up with them at some point so this is a big test.
I mentioned on Thursday night that the bare numbers suggest Wolves are doing great things this term. While results are really the only thing which matters in football, you tend to find long-term that certain metrics balance themselves out so a big issue is that while they have the third best defensive record in the league, their xGA is significantly higher than the 20 goals they have conceded. A team who relies so heavily on its keeper to keep them in matches often finds that is not sustainable.
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West Ham United will be without a couple of first-team players in Vladimir Coufal and Andriy Yarmolenko. The former has had a hernia operation while the latter has been given time off given events back in his homeland.
Nelson Semedo left the field early in the loss to Arsenal on Thursday evening and he would need a Lazarus like recovery to be able to feature here. Jonny Otto replaced him in that match and could come in for him here.
I’m not expecting a particularly high scoring contest here. Wolverhampton Wanderers are among the lower scorers in the league with just Burnley and Norwich having scored fewer goals than them this season. West Ham United are more exciting to watch but they themselves have hit a bit of a wall in the final third of the pitch in terms of the amount of chances they have created in recent times, and Wolves aren’t exactly going to offer any space in behind.
You sense that given neither side will want to lose this match will be settled either on a mistake or a set-piece or something like that so I think goals will come as a premium here. It might be that West Ham win this because Wolves have some tired legs in the second half but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a cagey opening 45 minutes. That was the case when the two met at Molineux earlier in the campaign when the only goal was scored in the second period. This one might well be goalless at half time too.
Back First Half Correct Score – 0-0 for a 3/10 stake at 2.63 with Sky Bet