SCOUT Phil Smith looks at today’s opponents West Ham and their current struggle to score goals.
“Some of the great play will be forgotten due to the fact the final ball was missing. We have to learn how to find a clean sheet because at the moment we are struggling to score more than one goal a game”
Sam Allardyce was painfully aware of what his side must do at Turf Moor on Saturday, following a disappointing 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough on Tuesday.
It was their fourth consecutive 1-1 draw, an indication perhaps as to where the smart money should be placed tomorrow afternoon?!
West Ham United were booed off the pitch by their supporters against Boro, a solitary point simply unacceptable in their quest for the top two.
It wasn’t so much the result which stuck in the craw, more the response following Abdoulaye Faye`s 69th minute goal.
Big Sam had no response to Bart Ogbeche`s leveler, as Jutkiewicz then hit the crossbar, before McCartney cleared a further Ogbeche effort off the line, as the Teesiders finished the game in the ascendancy.
The Londoners record against those in and around our position provides a real cause for concern. They have won 12, drawn four and lost just three against those in that particular zone, the best record in the division.
Our record against those in the top half is moderate, seven wins from 20 games.
The most telling statistic is their away form compared to ours at home. Three wins from five away from the Boleyn Ground is more than satisfactory, whilst one win for ourselves at Turf Moor in the same period is far from acceptable.
Eddie Howe must use the final weeks of the season wisely. Our current league position is not what I would have settled for at the beginning of the campaign, and he must now use the following 10 games to prepare ourselves for a more serious challenge next time out.
At the risk of sounding controversial, I wouldn’t necessarily play what is deemed our strongest team. Fringe players such as Zavon Hines should be given a run to see what he can do, whilst we could do far worse than throwing Steven Hewitt into the mix.
We have absolutely nothing to lose. This period should be used to exhaust all options, ensuring that we can hit pre-season running, with all bases covered.