- Both teams scored in 10 of Wolves’ last 13 away games.
- Only Man City and Liverpool stopped West Ham scoring at home this season.
- Wolves beat West Ham in 100% of their last three league meetings.
- Both teams registered in nine of West Ham’s last 11 home contests.
West Ham face battle for survival
With goal difference separating West Ham in 16th from Premier League’s drop zone, the Irons re-start their 2019/20 Premier League campaign with major relegation worries this week.
A horrible run of one win from nine top-flight contests in the lead up to football’s postponement saw the Hammers tumble down the standings at a rate of knots, though David Moyes will be sensible enough to accept that a sequence that included games against the likes of Sheffield United, Leicester, Liverpool (twice), Man City and Arsenal was always likely to yield a poor return.
Nevertheless, there is a real danger that West Ham could lose their Premier League status for the first time since 2011 this season, and the source of much of their plight has been their dreadful defensive performances this term.
Only three clubs have conceded more goals than the Irons in 2019/20 (50), and West Ham’s record of keeping just one clean sheet in their last 11 league outings at the London Stadium points to a weakness that opponents Wolves will feel they can exploit.
Wanderers targeting top five finish
For Wolves, Champions League qualification remains the target this season, and Wanderers still have two possible routes to European football’s elite competition open to them through a top five finish and via the Europa League.
Before the break, 6th placed Wolves’ form had been solid, with their 2-1 home reverse to champions elect Liverpool on January 23 their only defeat in eight Premier League fixtures, though four draws during the same spell means their points haul wasn’t as high as it might have been.
It’s worth noting that draw specialists Wolves have shared the spoils 13 times in total this term – a figure that accounts for just under half of the Premier League matches they’ve contests since August.
Goals likely at both ends
While West Ham have been far from prolific this season – averaging just 1.2 goals per 90 minutes overall – they rarely fail to register on their own patch.
Only Manchester City and Liverpool managed to keep the Irons off the scoresheet in 14 Premier League matches in the capital so far this season, and we expect West Ham to make an impact on the scoreline again against a Wolves team that find it difficult to keep the door shut on the road.
Wanderers managed to keep their hosts at bay just twice in their last 13 attempts as the visiting team, however, with players like Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Diogo Jota in tow, Wolves have generally carried enough star quality in attack to strike back.
In fact, that combination of less than watertight defending and sparkling forward play led to both teams hitting the net in 10 of those aforementioned 13 away tussles – and the both teams to score market for Wolves’ latest test at West Ham looks excellent value for the same reasons.
Our correct score prediction backs Nuno Espirito Santo’s charges to eventually force a 2-1 win however. Wolves’ 2-0 win over West Ham in their reverse Premier League meeting in December extended their winning streak over the Irons to three games – in fact, Wanderers have a 100% record against the Hammers in the league since their promotion in 2018.
Three of Wolves last four away wins came against clubs currently languishing near West Ham and the bottom three (Bournemouth, Norwich and Southampton), though each victory was secured by a narrow one-goal winning margin. We expect the same scenario to play out this week.
Key Battle – Issa Diop vs Raul Jimenez
French centre-half Issa Diop has been regularly linked with moves to some of the Premier League’s bigger clubs, but while the 23-year-old’s potential is obvious, his performances are still littered with inconsistency.
On a good day, Diop has the defensive skillset to make life tough for any forward in the country, though the ex-Toulouse starlet will have to right on top of his game to keep a lid on Wolves’ striker Raul Jimenez.
With 13 goals and six assists in 29 Premier League appearances, the Mexican centre-forward had been enjoying a stellar campaign before play was postponed in March, and having hit the net twice against West Ham last season, the 29-year-old will be aiming to punish the Irons again this week.
West Ham vs Wolves team news
David Moyes has an almost completely fit and healthy squad to choose from for Saturday’s game, with centre-half Angelo Ogbonna the only doubt.
Argentine schemer Manuel Lanzini makes a welcome return to the fold, while January signing Jarrod Bowen will also be desperate to play having started just two Premier League games since his switch from Hull.
Michail Antonio, Robert Snodgrass and Pablo Fornals will all be pushing for starting berths with Andiry Yarmoleno and Felipe Anderson.
West Ham predicted line-up: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Balbuena, Cresswell, Rice, Yarmolenko, Noble, Lanzini, Anderson, Haller
Wolves have few worries to contend with ahead of their first game back at West Ham.
With almost all of his personnel fit and ready for selection, Nuno Espirito will likely keep faith with his usual mix and Wanderers’ tried and trusted 3-4-3 formation.
As always, a strong Portuguese presence is expected with Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Diogo Jota involved, with the latter forming a formidable looking front three alongside Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez.
Wolves prediction line-up: Patricio, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny, Traore, Jimenez, Jota