Two of the Barclays Premier League’s struggling sides go head-to-head on Wednesday as Fulham host West Ham United at Craven Cottage (8pm).
While much has been made of the Whites’ form that has yielded just two wins from our last eight league matches, our London rivals have tasted victory only once in the same period.
Both sides could hand debuts to new signings by the banks of the Thames on Wednesday evening. Emmanuel Frimpong joined Fulham last week and will be looking to oust either Chris Baird or Steve Sidwell from one of the central midfield slots, while Emanuel Pogatetz headed to the Hammers earlier in the week.
The Austrian defender has already tasted Premier League football with Middlesbrough, and could be joined in the squad by Brazilian striker Wellington Paulista, who scored for the Under-21s on Monday.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce also confirmed that Andy Carroll is in contention to make an appearance for the first time since November after the England striker recovered from his knee injury.
Like Fulham, West Ham began the 2012/13 season strongly but have not been able to keep the momentum going as the campaign progresses. After securing an impressive six wins by December 1st, the Irons have since only picked up two victories.
Injuries haven’t helped, though. Carroll, although struggling for goals, had been a pivotal figure in the Hammers’ frontline – as Whites fans will recall from our meeting at Upton Park in September. The striker has also been joined more recently in the treatment room by defensive duo James Collins and George McCartney, which has left the East London side somewhat thin at the back.
Wednesday’s match will be West Ham’s third consecutive London derby, having come up against Queens Park Rangers and Arsenal in their last two outings. Rangers took the lead at the Boleyn Ground through debutant Loic Remy, before Joe Cole’s first goal since his return to the club earned the Hammers a point.
Their most recent game was less fruitful, though, as the Gunners romped to a 5-1 success at the Emirates. Things started well for the visitors when Jack Collison put them ahead on 18 minutes and they remained in the contest for the remainder of the half despite Lukas Podolski’s equaliser. Their undoing came in a 10-minute period at the start of the second half when four quick-fire goals from Olivier Giroud (2), Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott wrapped up the comprehensive win.
Last time out
West Ham United 3-0 Fulham 01.09.2012
Fulham made the trip across London in confident mood having put five past Norwich City and pushed Manchester United close in our opening two Premier League matches, but a first-half onslaught by West Ham secured a comfortable victory for the newly-promoted side.
The Whites got off to an awful start when Carroll headed on a long ball to Ricardo Vaz Te in the first minute. Vaz Te then teed up captain Kevin Nolan who fired home with aplomb to put his side ahead.
The lead was doubled just before the half-hour mark when Winston Reid rose highest to head Matt Taylor’s corner into the net, before West Ham killed the game as a contest on 41 minutes through Taylor. The midfielder was first to a loose ball just inside the area and fired home neatly for 3-0.
Fulham improved after the break as Dimitar Berbatov was introduced for his debut, but couldn’t pull a goal back against a team who seem to enjoy facing us in the Premier League.
Players to watch
Mohamed Diame: The midfield powerhouse has been a revelation since his summer switch from Wigan Athletic and Allardyce will be pleased to have him back at his disposal following his recovery from injury. Primarily a holding player, Diame is also very adept going forward and has got a lethal shot in his locker.
Joe Cole: This month saw the 56-cap England international return to the club where he began his career after struggling for game-time at Liverpool. The midfielder was instrumental on his second debut for West Ham, nabbing two assists as they drew 2-2 with Manchester United in the FA Cup with Budweiser.
Kevin Nolan: The West Ham skipper has scored goals wherever he’s been, despite occupying a central midfield role – with five goals to date this season, and fast approaching 100 in his career.
The magic numbers
1 West Ham have conceded fewer headed goals than any other Premier League side this season (1).
2 Fulham have won just two of their previous 17 Premier League matches against West Ham (W2 D5 L10). One of those victories was in their first-ever Premier League meeting.
4 The Whites have failed to find the net in four of their previous eight Premier League home games against West Ham, scoring only six goals in total.
5 Carlton Cole has scored in each of his last five Premier League starts against Fulham, netting six goals in total. However, he also scored an own goal in this run. These six goals mean that he’s scored more often against Fulham than any other side in the Premier League.
6 Only Arsenal (7) have won more often away at Fulham in the Premier League than West Ham (6).
32 Mark Noble has created more goalscoring chances without an assist (32) than any other player in the Premier League this season.
61 Only Sandro (80) and Morgan Schneiderlin (72) have made more interceptions this season than Steve Sidwell (61).
91 No goalkeeper has been forced into making more saves than Jussi Jaaskelainen (91).