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Nic Ladds 9th Jan 2010 - 9:13

Can The Hammers keep the Wolves at bay?

Not many people would have predicted this match as a relegation six-pointer at the start of the season but with both teams on the cusp of the relegation zone, neither team will want to slip up here. Both teams are looking over their shoulders at the bottom three and maximum points here will push the winner one step closer to safety, and push the losing team deeper in to trouble.

West Ham (19/20) sit in 17th place going into this match, joint on points with the two teams below them and it is looking ominous. Wolves (3/1) sit one point, and two places above them, probably the happier of the two teams as this is at least where they are predicted to be, West Ham being expected to build on their top ten finish from last season.

West Ham enter this clash with just four points from a possible 21, but with Upton Park behind them I have to say they look the better option in this match. Although not in the best form, The Hammers certainly have more quality in their ranks and Gianfranco Zola will be looking at the return of influential midfielders Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Jack Collison to be the catalyst that will spur then on to victory in this crucial match. The most sensible bet has to be in-form striker Alessandro Diamanti to get on the score sheet either first at 11/2 or anytime at 6/4. After bagging four in his last five, he certainly looks a good price to get another.

Neither team will want a draw here but with both being amongst the league's lowest scorers, a 0-0 draw at 17/2 certainly holds some value, but who wants that?

Wolves have lost six of their last nine matches, including two on the bounce - although they are yet to lose three successive matches this season. However, I think this is about to come to an end. They do welcome back top scorer Kevin Doyle (15/2 first goal) and after getting an impressive 1-0 win away at Tottenham a few weeks ago (15/2 for the same score here) they certainly are capable of a victory. Wolves are missing some important players though in Andy Keogh, David Edwards and Michael Kightly therefore my money will be on a West Ham victory.

The reverse fixture, the first game this season, ended in a 2-0 victory for West Ham at Molineux and with home advantage this time you would expect them to build upon that. I think they will match or better that score this time so West Ham -1 at 12/5 offers a good return. Wolves have scored 71% of their goals in the second half this season so although I don't think they will win; maybe they will win the second half at 3/1.

Wolves have failed to score in their last five games in all competitions, so the price of 2/1 on only West Ham to score looks really good. Even though Upton Park has seen more goals than any of the other Premier League grounds this season, I can't see this being the highest scoring of affairs and under three goals at 8/11 seems safe enough.

The Hammers have enough quality in the ranks to overcome their opponents and I think Wolves will be sucked deeper in to another relegation battle. The likes of Parker, Jimenez and Diamanti look like the ones that will shine and my tip is West Ham -1 at 12/5.

Good luck and fingers crossed this one won't fall victim to the snow.



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