West Ham United welcome newly-promoted Middlesbrough to the Olympic Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League, and are desperate for a result after a woeful start to the new season.
So much was expected under manager Slaven Bilic this campaign after the Londoners secured Europa League football in 2015/16, but United are currently embroiled in a relegation battle.
With next opponents Middlesbrough also struggling in recent weeks, can West Ham finally arrest the slide?
West Ham’s porous defence needs addressing
West Ham’s biggest problem this season has been their defence. The Londoners have conceded more goals than any other side, and have been considerably thrashed of late too. The Hammers have suffered four consecutive defeats in the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s clash, conceding three or more goals in each game.
Last season, Bilic’s men had Aaron Cresswell, James Tomkins and Angelo Ogbonna as regulars in the backline, but they sold Tomkins in the summer, have Cresswell out injured, while Ogbonna has been used sparingly so far. It’s led to them leaking goals with a makeshift defence this campaign.
After losing 3-1 away to Manchester City, they collapsed against Watford, surrendering a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 at the Olympic Stadium. A trip to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion resulted in the same result, losing 4-2 to the Midlands outfit, before Southampton won 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium most recently.
They come into this weekend’s clash in poor shape and at their lowest ebb as a result, but face an opponent out-of-form in recent weeks too which could boost their hopes of finally winning a game.
Middlesbrough form gives West Ham hope of a turnaround
Newly-promoted Middlesbrough have seen their bright start in the Premier League turn into relegation form with three consecutive defeats ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the Hammers which could see them coming unstuck. Middlesbrough are just two places and two points better off than West Ham United in the Premier League table, having won just once all season. Their defensive record is more convincing but a lack of goals could cost them.
West Ham are yet to make the Olympic Stadium a fortress, but Middlesbrough away form has seen them pick up just one point from their last two games on the road. Its perhaps worth noting that West Ham have won four of their last five head-to-heads in the Premier League too. West Ham United are 7/6 to win against Middlesbrough at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday afternoon, but can they finally deliver?