Blackburn’s terrible Upton Park record could mean joy for West Ham
Rovers haven’t won in east London in 15 attempts, so surely the Hammers can break their run of five consecutive defeats this Saturday.
If you could pick a home game for West Ham when they are battling for their Premier League lives then Blackburn Rovers would certainly be high up on that list.
Rovers haven’t won at Upton Park since 1994, that’s 15 games without a victory in east London, making them one of the few whipping boys for the Hammers.
Before Saturday’s surprise 1-0 victory over Bolton, Blackburn had not won in 10 games, a run that stretched back to January.
That victory over Bolton eased their relegation worries just a little, and that too may play into West Ham’s hands. The Hammers simply need the victory more than Rovers and that may be a crucial factor.
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Steve Kean’s team have suffered from not having a main goalscorer this season. Youngster David Hoilett was beginning to find that form and had managed five goals this season, but he is now injured.
Mame Biram Diouf and Nikola Kalinic both have six goals to their name, while Morten Gamst Pedersen has managed four, but none of them seem to be regulars at the moment, with Benjani and Jason Roberts playing up front against Bolton.
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Roberts has a good record against the Hammers and may well be the one to watch.
Added to that the absence of the influential David Dunn and international defender Ryan Nelsen and it seems that Blackburn may well be there for the taking on Saturday.
Back in December, the two teams fought out a 1-1 draw in the freezing north as Junior Stanislas cancelled out Nelsen’s goal and it was a game that heralded in a renaissance in West Ham’s form after a disastrous first four months to the season.
Rovers have won three games on their travels this season.
They came back with all three points from Blackpool (2-1), Newcastle United (2-1) and West Brom (3-1) but the last of those came back on December 28, and that must give West Ham a lot of confidence.
What we are not taking account of though is the pressure that the Hammers are under. It eased a little on Rovers after their latest victory, and that may give them licence to play with a little more freedom, but for West Ham it is simply a must-win game.
Whether the players can cope with that remains to be seen, but it has to be said, looking at current form and at Blackburn’s history at Upton Park, they won’t have a better chance to record a victory.
If they don’t, then they don’t deserve to stay up anyway.
Possible team: Robinson, Samba, Olsson, Salgado, P Jones, Givet, J Jones, Emerton, Nzonzi, Benjani, Roberts.
West Ham 3 Blackburn 1