NICKNAME: The Hammers
CLUB COLOURS: Claret and blue
STADIUM: The Boleyn Ground (also known as Upton Park)
POSITION 2012/13: 10th
LAST FIVE LEAGUE RESULTS: Chelsea (H) lost 3-0, Norwich City (A) lost 3-1, Aston Villa (H) drew 0-0, Swansea City (A) drew 0-0, Manchester City (H) lost 3-1.
THE GAFFER: Sam Allardyce, or ‘Big Sam’ as he’s also known, is not enjoying his time at West Ham United at present. Fans are frustrated with recent results and the lack of goals (only two scored in the last five games) but if anyone can turn it around it’s Allardyce. A former no-nonsense defender who played nearly 500 league games during his career, he will believe he has the nous and credentials to lead West Ham to another mid-table finish come May.
THE TACTICS: Andy Carroll’s injury has proven to be a disaster for the Hammers this season. With no target man to lead the line, West Ham have looked blunt in the final third and it’s no surprise they’re struggling to score goals. Stewart Downing, the former England winger with superb crossing ability, was brought in to provide service to Carroll but now there is no one to get on the end of his balls into the box – which is where the problem lies. Due to the lack of strikers available Allardyce has recently gone with a highly unusual 4-6-0 formation; and whilst they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at White Hart Lane using it they’ve had little success since. They’ve managed to keep the ball comfortably using this formation but have struggled to finish off moves – however with young star Ravel Morrison there is always a chance he’ll create or score from absolutely nothing.
RAVEL MORRISON (pictured): The former Manchester United youngster is West Ham’s bright spark. The 20-year old has huge talent, so much so that he was once described as the best talent to emerge through the Old Trafford youth ranks since Paul Scholes – and since his move to East London he’s started to fulfil that early promise. Great with the ball at his feet and the lynchpin in the stunning win at Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks ago (he capped his performance off with a superb solo goal) – Morrison has the world at his feet and will be a constant thorn in Fulham’s side tomorrow.
MARK NOBLE: The midfielder, a local lad and die-hard West Ham fan, has been a fixture in the centre of Hammers’ midfield since 2007 and has made more than 250 appearances for the club in all competitions. Hugely popular with the fans and great at set-pieces, as well as creating opportunities for the strikers, Noble is the driving force in West Ham’s midfield. Noble likes to dictate the tempo of the game with his passing from the middle of the park, but isn’t shy about recovering the ball from the opposition either. Frequently found both splitting defences open with his through balls and flying into tackles to win the ball back for the Hammers.
KEVIN NOLAN: West Ham United’s captain and top scorer last season, Nolan chips in with plenty of goals for the Hammers from his position in attacking midfield. With Andy Carroll injured Nolan has taken the brunt of the goal scoring responsibility in recent weeks, but United need their target-man striker Carroll to return in order for Nolan to have someone to play off of, which is where he enjoys most of his success. Nolan will use his strength and experience to unsettle the Fulham defence, and if United deploy their 4-6-0 formation again Nolan’s tendency to drift between the lines will cause untold problems if the Whites don’t keep an eye on him at all times.
3: Times United have won the FA Cup
14: Englishmen in United’s first-team squad
326: Goals scored by West Ham’s record goalscorer, Vic Watson
1895: Year club was formed
35,016: Capacity of The Boleyn Ground