Home is where the heart is

IF WEST HAM are to survive another campaign in the Premier League then they are going to have to do it at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS. That is the stark truth that becomes apparent when you glance at the remaining fixtures for manager Gianfranco Zola an

IF WEST HAM are to survive another campaign in the Premier League then they are going to have to do it at Upton Park, writes DAVE EVANS.

That is the stark truth that becomes apparent when you glance at the remaining fixtures for manager Gianfranco Zola and his players.

With 13 games to go and 24 points on the board, West Ham will likely need four or five victories to confirm their top-flight participation next season.

But with trips to Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Fulham still to come for a side who have won just one away game all season, the chances of them getting those much-needed points on the road seems like an almost impossible task.


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Last season, West Ham did manage goalless draws at both Liverpool and Arsenal, and there is always the prospect that they can grind out a result at one of the big boys again.

But to be realistic, it seems that only the trip to Craven Cottage in May offers the chance of an away win, and Roy Hodgson's boys have already won eight of their 13 home games this term.

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West Ham's current home record reads as won four, drawn four, lost four, and that will need to greatly improve if they are to muster the points tally they need to stay up.

When you look at the fixtures, starting with the visit of Phil Brown's Hull City this Saturday, the opportunities are certainly there.

Last term they beat Stoke (2-1), Wigan (2-1), Sunderland (2-0), Hull City (2-0) and even Manchester City (1-0).

They didn't play Wolves, so there only defeat last season against the teams they still have to play at home came against Bolton Wanderers, when a nightmare day for Rob Green allowed the visitors to return north with a 3-1 victory.

So what about this time round?

The Recorder have assessed the remaining games for the Hammers, both home and away and come up with a points tally that should keep them up.

The assessment away from Upton Park is not too rosy with just one point gleaned from a possible 18, and that coming in their final away outing at Fulham.

But at home, the Recorder have predicted a total of 14 points from four wins and two draws, with only Champions League-chasing Manchester City proving too good for the Hammers on the final day of the season.

Hopefully by then, safety will already have been assured with our prediction that West Ham will reach 39 points for their efforts.

That would have kept the Hammers in the top flight every year for the last six, with Everton's tally of 39 in 2003-04 just about enough to keep them out of the bottom three, being the closest.

There are a few warnings to heed for the Hammers.

The last time more than 39 points was needed was back in 2002-03 when of course, West Ham went down with 42.

Also, the Hammers away form is something to worry about and if it continues will put huge pressure on them at home.

They have only once gone through a season winning just once - way back in the 1960-61 campaign.

They managed just two wins in 1971-72 and 1976-77, but on all three of those occasions, they did manage to avoid the dreaded drop.

There is a lot of football to be played from now until the end of the season, but it seems that most of it is likely to be played at Upton Park!

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