Sam focused on 'must-win' game
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes Saturday's clash with West Brom is a "must-win" for his relegation-threatened side.
While a Capital One Cup semi-final with Manchester City is on the horizon, so too is Championship football unless the Hammers buck up their ideas.
The 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Boxing Day was hardly unexpected given the way Arsene Wenger's side have performed this season, but that means little to the east Londoners.
Having thrown away the lead given to them by Carlton Cole, the loss means West Ham have now won just one of their last 11 Barclays Premier League matches.
Unsurprisingly, that form leaves them in the relegation zone ahead of this weekend's match with West Brom - the first of pivotal back-to-back matches, with a trip to Fulham following on New Year's Day.
"Our big games are the West Broms and Fulhams in the next two games," manager Allardyce said.
"It is about performing like that against those clubs, which give you a better chance to win the game.
"We have to believe, at the end of the day, that we will convert the chances as we did, certainly the home game a few weeks ago against Fulham.
"West Brom is becoming a must-win, so we have to go all out without being over anxious or over adventurous because if we start leaving back doors open and start conceding too many goals.
"We're going to have to score far more goals than we concede to win a game of football. That is not always the way forwards."
James Collins will have a calf complaint assessed on Friday and looks unlikely to feature.
The injury resulted in the Welsh centre-back being forced off in the first half of the defeat to Arsenal - a match Ravel Morrison missed through a groin issue.
Andy Carroll, Ricardo Vaz Te, Stewart Downing and Winston Reid remain sidelined, while Adrian will hope to remain in goal despite an unconvincing display against the Gunners.
Meanwhile, West Brom caretaker manager Keith Downing is expected to take charge of the team for the crunch clash.
Although the search for a new boss could stretch into a third week, Zoltan Gera insists the uncertainty will not affect the players.
"We are just looking at the games and prepare for Saturday at West Ham," Gera added.
"We don't need to think about new coaches, we just need to be professional and do our best.
"It's a nice group and you can see we're sticking together in the Christmas period."
Downing followed up a 1-1 draw against Hull with another creditable stalemate against Tottenham on Thursday.
Downing's men showed resolve, bouncing back from Christian Eriksen's opener to come away with a point thanks to Jonas Olsson's equaliser.
West Brom are three points outside the drop zone, but West Ham are two points from safety after their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal.
Downing expects the Hammers to come out fighting at Upton Park.
"We know what they are like, we know their strengths are and I am sure Big Sam (Allardyce) will have them charged up," Downing said.
"It's a big game, but we have never shied away from the position we are in and we need to get as many points as we possibly can and pave the way for the new man to come in."
Source : PA