Sunday's big match preview
West Ham United v Wolves Sunday, January 10, 1.30pm Upton Park IT SEEMS a long time since West Ham kicked off the season in the August sunshine and promptly grabbed all three points at Molineux. Mark Noble and Matty Upson helped the Hammers to an easy 2-0
West Ham United v Wolves
Sunday, January 10, 1.30pm
IT SEEMS a long time since West Ham kicked off the season in the August sunshine and promptly grabbed all three points at Molineux.
Mark Noble and Matty Upson helped the Hammers to an easy 2-0 victory, but it is indicative of how the campaign has gone that West Ham haven't won on their travels since and now trail Wolves by one point and two places.
Gianfranco Zola will be looking for his first double of the season on Sunday, but it is likely to be a tense encounter as the teams meet in what the Italian describes as a 'six-points match'.
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Wolves have grabbed two wins on the road this season. They beat Wigan 1-0 back in August, but just last month shocked Tottenham Hotspur with Kevin Doyle's early goal enough to beat Harry Redknapp's boys.
Former Hammers target Doyle has now scored five goals since his �6.5million move from Reading, two of them in the last four outings and he will certainly be the one to watch as the rest of the Wolves forward line seem to be firing blanks.
There were high hopes for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, but he has notched just one goal, while Chris Iwelumo hasn't scored at all.
Wolves have netted just 17 goals in the league this season, less than anyone else and so the chances of a 1-0 West Ham win must be pretty high.
Mick McCarthy was fairly quiet in the summer transfer window, as apart from Doyle, only Greg Halford, Roland Zubar and Andrew Surman arrived for any fee.
None of that trio have particularly impressed, though loan signing Michael Mancienne from Chelsea is forming a useful partnership with Jody Craddock and will be keen to avenge that opening day defeat when their defence looked decidedly shaky.
History certainly seems to be with the Hammers too.
Last time at Upton Park, Teddy Sheringham's strike in 2004 was enough to give the Hammers the points, while you would have to go back to 1978 for Wolves last win in east London.
That day, Derek Hales scored a late consolation for West Ham as goals from Bill Rafferty and Willie Carr gave them a 2-1 win in a season where the Hammers were relegated.
Defeat on Sunday would put Zola's men a step closer to the same fate, but after the promise of Sunday's effort against Arsenal, West Ham will be favourites to take the points.
It certainly won't be easy, unless McCarthy decides to play his fringe players once again because he feels he has no chance of winning.
Fingernails may be bitten, hearts may be missing a few beats, but I think West Ham will have just enough.
POSSIBLE TEAM: Hahne-mann, Foley, Berra, Elokobi, Craddock, Mancienne, Zubar, Henry, Surman, Jarvis, Doyle.
West Ham 3 Wolves 1