Goal drought

West Brom's struggles in front of goal continued against West Ham, who are doing their best to negotiate an injury crisis.

Last Updated: 17/12/12 6:52am

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West Brom's struggles in front of goal continued against West Ham, who are doing their best to negotiate an injury crisis.

The Baggies may have ended a three-match losing sequence on Sunday, but they have now gone three games without finding the target.

West Ham, meanwhile, were down to the bare bones at The Hawthorns and Sam Allardyce has admitted that he needs to add in January if the Hammers are to build on a productive opening to the campaign and cement their top-flight standing.


Steve Clarke was forced to make changes to his defensive unit, with Goran Popov brought in for the injured Liam Ridgewell at left-back. Steven Reid was also ruled out on the other side of West Brom's back four, paving the way for Billy Jones to step back into the starting XI. The Baggies were able to keep their solid spine intact, with Clarke keeping faith with his tried and tested.

West Ham made just one alteration to the side beaten by Liverpool, with Gary O'Neil filling the boots vacated by Mohamed Diame. The dynamic midfielder has been a revelation for the Hammers this season and his absence was always going to be keenly felt. Guy Demel was fit enough to start at right-back having shaken off a knock picked up against Liverpool.


West Brom opted to field Peter Odemwingie in a wide role, meaning Shane Long was left to plough a lone furrow through the middle. The lively frontman was given plenty of support from those around him, with the Baggies keen to ensure that Long was not left isolated up top. Clarke is keen for his side to keep the ball on the ground, but the going was tough at times and West Brom were forced to focus more attention on holding their own in a midfield battle.

West Ham lined up like-for-like with the Baggies, with five men stretched across midfield and Carlton Cole selected as a striking battering ram. The Hammers were prepared to go long at times, with Cole's strength a useful weapon in their arsenal, but he was left all alone far too often. The Hammers appeared to be prepared to soak up pressure and try and hit West Brom on the counter, but a game which lacked fluidity made it a struggle.


Clarke was the first to turn to his bench, but there were 75 minutes on the clock before any changes were made. Romelu Lukaku was introduced in place of Zoltan Gera and while the Belgian was keen to get involved and looked lively, he was unable to alter the course of the game. The same can be said for Markus Rosenberg, who was sent on seven minutes from the end to give Shane Long's legs a well-earned rest.

West Ham blinked 60 seconds after West Brom, with Allardyce leaving it as long as possible before making alterations. With only six players named on the bench, and with little Premier League experience between them, the Hammers boss had his hands tied somewhat. Modibo Maiga and James Tomkins, the two most experienced replacements at his disposal, were thrown into the action in place of Matt Jarvis and Guy Demel respectively, but neither offered much to proceedings.


Phil Dowd enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon, with a lacklustre contest providing few incidents of note. The man in the middle did turn to his pocket on six occasions, three for each side, but it was not a dirty game by any means. The only time Dowd had to lay down the law, he flashed yellow cards in the direction of Kevin Nolan and Youssouf Mulumbu for a bout of handbags six minutes from time.

Main men

West Brom rely heavily on the spine of their side to keep them ticking over, and Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley, Mulumbu and Long did not disappoint. Boaz Myhill picked up a welcome clean sheet as he continues to cover for Ben Foster and Peter Odemwingie showed once again how big a miss he will be when he departs for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

With a number of senior stars missing, West Ham needed their defence to put in a shift. Winston Reid and James Collins were rock solid at the heart of the Hammers' back four, prepared to put their bodies on the line for the good of the collective cause. Kevin Nolan is another important figure for Allardyce's side but, on his 500th appearance, he endured an uncharacteristically quiet afternoon.

Looking ahead

There is not too much wrong with West Brom, with their efforts already this season underlining how dangerous they can be when on top of their game. Much of their success has been built on an ability to edge their noses in front and then keep opponents at bay. The problem at the moment is getting in front, but the goals will come and Clarke will not be hitting the panic button just yet.

Survival was always the priority for West Ham this season, and nothing has changed. Allardyce will want to get to the fabled 40-point mark as quickly as possible and then reassess where his side stand. Additions in January would be useful, with recent injuries proving how quickly a squad can be thinned out, but the Hammers board have backed their boss up until this point and there is nothing to suggest that the chequebook will not be dusted off again in the New Year.

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