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Friday, April 25, 2014
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has challenged his side to stay focused in the “intense pressure” showdown which awaits them at relegation-battlers West Brom on Saturday.
The Irons head to The Hawthorns some seven points clear of the drop zone, but not yet mathematically secure of their place in the Barclays Premier League next season.
West Brom, meanwhile, are very much in the relegation mix, only three points clear, albeit with a match in hand on their rivals.
Allardyce knows all too well the importance for his side to retain composure, with their final two matches against Tottenham and Manchester City.
“The pressure will be pretty intense because we all know what is at stake. We have to handle it better than West Brom,” said Allardyce.
“They have had a resurgence and at their home ground have been so close to so many victories and only slipped up in the dying seconds of two particularly thrilling 3-3 draws.
“We don’t want to be in that position where we are trying to fight our way back from behind on Saturday.
“We want to be keeping a level playing field for as long as possible and our goal would be to do what we did at Sunderland, which was score the first goal and then go from there.”
Allardyce feels his side’s efforts in recent weeks should have yielded more rewards, but for minor lapses in concentration which proved so costly.
“We don’t want any major decisions going against us, but more importantly I don’t want my players to start making the basic errors they have made in the last three games which have cost us very dear,” said Allardyce, whose team followed defeat to Liverpool and Arsenal with a 1-0 home loss against rejuvenated Crystal Palace.
“We have been very satisfied with overall performances, but at certain times mistakes have been made which shouldn’t have been made and we have been punished heavily for them.”
Victory for West Ham would leave them on the fabled 40-points mark and the Baggies staring anxiously over their shoulders.
“There is always a need for your team to gain points against teams who have been below you or certainly not lose against them. That became really apparent when we won at Sunderland a few weeks ago, that the distance we put between us and them was critical for us at that time,” said Allardyce, whose side won four successive league matches in February to put some daylight between themselves and the battle for survival.
“That has always been the case and it will certainly be the case against West Brom.
“The points against the bigger clubs are just your bonus, the icing on your cake, but competing against the teams around you to win and draw against them has always been critical in where you finish the season.”
Goalkeeper Adrian - who played under Baggies boss Pepe Mel when the Spaniard was at Real Betis - is confident West Ham can produce the required performance.
“Here in the Premier League, every game is hard. At the moment, when the season is nearly finished, the games are even tougher,” Adrian said on the club’s official website, www.whufc.com.
“West Brom are only three points above the relegation [places], they really need these three points, but we are going there to win the game.”