Opposition Focus: West Ham United


10/11/18 – Huddersfield 1-1 West Ham
24/11/18 – West Ham 0-4 Man City
01/12/18 – Newcastle 0-3 West Ham
04/12/18 – West Ham 3-1 Cardiff
08/12/18 – West Ham 3-2 Crystal Palace


West Ham set up in a 4-4-2, with the heart of the midfield resides in Declan Rice and Mark Noble interchanging to play off of the red-hot Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass. The style of play is completely based on who plays up front with Chicarito. If Andy Carroll is fit and plays alongside him, all focus is on finding Chicarito via through balls and sending in crosses to Carroll via an overlap from either full backs Zabaleta or Masuaku. Defensively, West Ham press high, just like most teams seem to do in the Premier League, but primarily to employ the well-drilled offside trap. They put an emphasis to dispossess as quickly as possible, then push off with counter-attacks looking for more through balls. 

Battle to Watch

Stefan Johansen vs Declan Rice. We need to be aggressive and press as quickly as we can to ensure that Rice and Noble cannot turn and face where they are passing. Bring in Stefan Johansen, our best choice for box-to-box midfielder that you can find. Johansen is desperate to regain his form, and with the likes of Seri and Cairney looking lost as of late, it would send the right message to what Ranieri wants out of his midfielders. Declan Rice is young, but in good form right now. His passing has been suspect in spots, which is why the pressure from Johansen would do well to test the 19-year old’s calmness. I feel Johansen will be a key figure in our counter-attack system, and his key passes will be significant as we break out the attack. The hesitation I have here is that Johansen is prone to lose his head and foul too often, and the last thing Fulham need is to absorb multiple set pieces.    

Danger Man

West Ham have multiple weapons at their disposal. However, it is hard to argue that Felipe Anderson is not one of the most dangerous of the bunch. He scored a wonderful goal against Crystal Palace this past weekend, and all it took was a shuffle to the inside with his right foot – sending a powerful curler past Hennessey. Anderson is going to need a Fulham shirt on him at all times, so it is hard for me to validate Andre Schurrle getting the nod here, so I’ve opted for Kamara to track back against the tricky midfielder.

Last 5 Meetings

01/01/14 – Fulham 2-1 West Ham (Premier League)

30/11/13 – West Ham 3-0 Fulham (Premier League)

30/01/13 – Fulham 3-1 West Ham (Premier League)

01/09/12 – West Ham 3-0 Fulham (Premier League)

26/12/10 – Fulham 1-3 West Ham (Premier League)


Fulham wins 32

Draws 23

West Ham wins 46

Stats & Facts

  • The clubs have met on 101 occasions in all competitions – Fulham have won 32, West Ham have won 46 and there have been 23 draws.
  • Fulham have won just 3 of the last 19 league meetings with West Ham since prevailing 2-0 in the very first Premier League meeting at Upton Park in November 2001 when Sylvain Legwinski and Steed Malbranque were on target.
  • However, the Whites have won the last 2 Premier League meetings at Craven Cottage, 3-1 in January 2013 and 2-1 in January 2014.
  • Fulham have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last 13 meetings with the Hammers since a goalless draw at Craven Cottage in December 2006 when the visitors had Paul Konchesky sent-off five minutes from time.

Opposition View (@mattversion1)

What were your expectations going into this season and have they been altered by the start you’ve made?

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. I was just hoping to stay in the league, especially after the mess we made of last season. The way we started this season reflected this, 4 straight defeats wasn’t a great way for Pellegrini to introduce himself to the fans…However, things have picked up now and I honestly think we could finish top 10.

Are you finally settled in your new stadium  or is there still a hangover?

I’d say yes, it’s starting to feel a little more comfortable down there. I still think they could do more to make it feel more homely, like swapping the white seats and adding more claret. The atmosphere has improved and can be brilliant at times now but Upton park will always be home I’m afraid.

What did you make of Ryan Fredericks before his injury?

With Ryan I wasn’t too sure at first to be fair. I initially thought he was a great signing on a free having watched Fulham from afar. He looked great in preseason but struggled in the first couple of Premier League games but Liverpool away for your debut certainly didn’t help him at all.

I do think in the long run if Zabaleta takes him under his wing, we will have a great player on our hands because the pace and potential are certainly there. It’s a shame he’s out for the rest of the season injured so we won’t know until the next campaign what he’s about.

How do you think the match will pan out on Saturday?

Our record at the Cottage is decent and our current form is good. Of course, I’m hoping for an away win but it’s a London derby so form often counts for nothing. You guys need the points and it wouldn’t be the first time that West Ham get over confident. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see us get turned over but I’m hoping it’s a close win for us. Maybe a 3-2 win or a 2-2 draw. I do think it will be an entertaining game with loads of goals and Fulham’s wait for a cleansheet will continue I’m afraid.

Score prediction – Fulham 2-3 West Ham

Predicted line up – 4231 Fabianski; Zabeleta, Issa Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku;
Noble, Rice; Anderson, Wilshire, Snodgrass; Chicharito.

Match prediction

This has to be the most difficult prediction to be made. It is hard because Ranieri threw a bit of a wrench to the lineup against Man United, and it went horribly wrong. I do have the opinion that he needed to get some answers on versatility and positional depth, but regardless, it happened at the worst time. We had decent performances since he’s taken over, and the loss to United just felt like early season, not gelling, not playing for the shirt, the club, all over again. Public enemy number one and two were Jean Michael-Seri and Frank Zambo-Anguissa. Seri was out of position in the most crucial times of the match, and when he could recover, he was lightly jogging to track back. Zambo was at the root of all controversy with a terrible decision from the referee in sending him off. However, before that, Zambo still looked how he has all season: apathetic, lethargic and a bit blasé.

All blame is not placed on these two players alone though because Ranieri’s low pressing system, with two centre midfielders who have relaxed personalities, did not bode well. This is not what we need against high flying West Ham on Saturday afternoon.

We cannot be switched off, and cannot absorb wave after wave of attack like we did against Man United. We must press high like West Ham will press against us. They struggled against Crystal Palace in the first half because of that high press, so it would only be beneficial for us to do the same.

I’ve gone back and forth with my line up prediction, let alone what will actually happen in the match. The main emphasis I have is that we need players who will put in a proper shift. These are players that have tenacity and aggression built into them and do not give up no matter how daunting the task. So, as mentioned above, Stefan Johansen gets the nod for me to play alongside Chambers. I also want us to reward Kamara’s recent run of form with two goals in two matches, he looked strong and energetic against Man United – granted, he was in his favourite forward role, which again makes me slightly indecisive.

West Ham will come in with confidence and will break us down with width and pressure using a 4-4-2 system that saw them come back from behind against Palace. I expect Carroll to get the nod to regain his form, while Chicarito continues loving his football and making decisive runs to challenge our defensive line. Robert Snodgrass is in fantastic form, so Sessegnon and Bryan will have to be on the same page at all times but need to also remain fixed on Zabaleta’s tendency to overlap at any given moment. Lastly, Kamara has got to keep up with Felipe Anderson and remain physical against the Brazilian. 

The battle will be in the centre of the pitch with Chamber sand Johansen interchanging versus Noble and Rice. Our system is built upon the centre midfielders covering the wings though, so we will need to ensure that each side of the pitch does not become too narrow as I can see multiple cross field switches by the Hammers to keep us on our toes. The centre will also have prime occupants in the form of Cairney and Mitro, despite their rather poor display against United. I dislike isolating Mitro, but we need Cairney more for his attacking duties and creativity on the ball rather than his space occupying defensive positioning. I know Cairney, in particular, is a subject of hot debate, ranging from whether he should be our captain or if he knows how to tackle at all – but I cannot honestly leave him out of the squad. He needs a goal as bad as we need a clean sheet, and I feel he’s not that far off from scoring soon. His hold up play is different than Seri, where he’s not trying to play pretty passes square just for the sake of it, he’s our Tom Cairney who fights for the shirt and wears the armband – he is essential.

As I’ve said, this is a tough match to predict. If the Man United match had never happened, I’d be completely in gear with a similar line up against Leicester City, but now, it’s a bit of a crap shot. The facts are that we let in 4 goals in the worst way, and without Rico, it could have reached double digits. West Ham have scored 9 times in their last three matches, while we have conceded 7, and only scored 2. The stats are not in our favour, and as much as I want to say we’ll rise up from the moment the ball is kicked, I think we’ll struggle. I’m an optimist though, so while we’ll struggle and will most likely concede, I feel we’ll come away with a spirited performance. I’m calling for a 2-2 draw, with Kamara and Mitro finding the back of the net. We may not be able to get the clean sheet, but the 1 point will be a step in the right direction – and one will just have to hope that the results elsewhere are in our favour. COYW!!

Predicted Lineup