December 12 2013 Latest news:
Robin Cottle, Reporter
Friday, November 1, 2013
Tomorrow’s home game against Aston Villa is a great chance for West Ham to win their first league game at Upton Park since the opening day of the season, according to manager Sam Allardyce.
But a hamstring injury to James Tomkins has left the Hammers with a defensive injury crisis, with Winston Reid their only fit senior centre-back.
Tomkins is a doubt for the Villa game while winger Matt Taylor, who picked up a calf injury against Burnley in the Capital One Cup, is definitely out.
Allardyce said that while he’s not disappointed with the performances, now is the time to put three points on the board.
“If we keep playing the way we are, the results will come, but Villa would be the perfect time to give the fans something to cheer about,” he said.
“The fans are still behind us. Other than the Stoke game, they can see we’re playing well. But we needed to start picking up wins – it’s what the fans want to see.”
If Tomkins doesn’t make it, the versatile Joey O’Brien is likely to step in alongside New Zealand international Reid.
Five of the Hammers next seven games are against teams who join them in the bottom eight – Villa, Norwich City, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Sunderland, but Allardyce can’t understand why the home form this term is so much worse than 2012/13.
The Hammers lost only four league games at Upton Park last season, all to teams who finished in the top six.
Conversely, their results away from home have included a comprehensive 3-0 win at Tottenham and creditable draws against Southampton, Newcastle United and Swansea City.
He said: “We need to get back to the home form from last season. We’re desperate to find three points. The longer we go without winning at home, the players are bound to feel extra pressure.
“According to our stats we have the worst chance conversion rate in the Premier League. If that continues, it will be hard to win games.
“But I also want to focus on stopping us conceding at home. If the other team ends with a zero, that gives us a better chance.”
Two plus points from the trip to Burnley were 90 minutes for Joe Cole and 45 for the injury-prone Jack Collison, back from a month-long loan at Championship outfit Bournemouth.
Allardyce was delighted to see Jack Collison back in action, but admitted that his knee would have to be carefully managed.
He said: “He got misdiagnosed when he was younger. Jack spends most of his week with the physios and sports science staff, and will probably have to do so for the rest of his career.”
One of the sub-plots of tomorrow’s clash is a reunion for Stewart Downing with his former club, making 79 appearances for the Villa Park club between 2009 and 2011.
The West Ham boss is pleased with the winger’s progress since his £6million summer move from Liverpool.
“I know Stewart has had a hard time from the press, but my opinion is the only one which counts,” Allardyce said.
“People develop their opinions far too quickly in this game.
“It’s the same with Gareth Bale. He has a slow start at Real Madrid adapting to a new league and it’s a waste of £86million.
“Then he scores a couple of goals and he’s amazing again,” concluded the manager.