West Ham's Relegation Battle: Examining Each of the Hammers' Last 7 Matches

William Gish@wgishAnalyst IApril 8, 2011

West Ham's Relegation Battle: Examining Each of the Hammers' Last 7 Matches

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    Jeremy O'Donnell/Getty Images

    Only seven matches remain in the 2010-11 campaign for Avram Grant and the lads of West Ham United. Those seven matches will decide whether the Hammers ply their trade at the top level for the 2011-12 season.

    Nothing but the best is required of Scott Parker, Matthew Upson, Rob Green, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Demba Ba, Robbie Keane, Freddy Piquionne, Mark Noble, Carlton Cole, Wayne Bridge, Manuel Da Costa, Lars Jacobsen, Gary O’Neil, James Tomkins and the rest.

    Here we look at each of those seven matches in depth, offer predictions and take a measured look at the what the Hammers need to do to avoid the dreaded drop.

West Ham United vs. Bolton Wanderers

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    When: April 9th

    Where: Reebok Stadium

    The Match: Though Bolton looked like contenders last fall, the team currently sits eight in the table, a full 26 points below first place Manchester United, and only eight points away from relegation.

    Of its past 10 games, Bolton has won three, drawn two and lost five. This bodes well for the Hammers. However, Bolton has not lost at Reebok Stadium since January 24th, and that was to Chelsea.

    In mid-March, Bolton midfield anchor Stuart Holden received a brutal knee injury—he has been ruled out for six months. All told, Bolton’s woes and relatively poor form of late bode well for the Hammers, though the side is very difficult to beat at home.

    If West Ham start the match aggressively and play attacking football, they will walk away from Bolton with a draw.

    Prediction: Hammers 2 – 2 Bolton

    Hammers Pick Up: One point

West Ham United vs. Aston Villa

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    When: April 16th (Record store day! Support your local, independent record stores)

    Where: Upton Park

    The Match: Aston Villa sits 16th in the table as of this writing, just two points clear of the relegation zone. Despite the presence of internationals like Darren Bent and Ashley Young, the side has struggled significantly since Martin O’Neill’s surprise resignation last August.

    West Ham is lucky for two reasons in the match against Villa: (1) the Hammers have had decent home form as of late and (2) The Villains have only won twice away from home all season.

    Presuming the defensive line doesn’t fall apart around Darren Bent as it did Wayne Rooney, the Irons should win this game.

    Prediction: Hammers 2 – 1 Villa

    Hammers Pick Up: Three points

West Ham United vs. Chelsea

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    When: April 23rd

    Where: Stamford Bridge

    The Match: This is a difficult match to predict. For every stretch of truly brilliant football Chelsea has played during its 2010-11 campaign, it has played an equal amount of incoherence.

    Despite that, Chelsea is still fourth in the EPL. The Blues have only lost twice at Stamford Bridge all season and has won three of its last five games (the other two were draws).

    This will be a tough game for the Hammers. They’ll have to play defensively to take anything away from it, which will hamper their ability to score.

    Prediction: Hammers 0 – 3 Chelsea

    Hammers Pick Up: Nothing

West Ham United vs. Manchester City

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    When: April 30th

    Where: City of Manchester

    The Match: Before last weekend, this would have been an easy match to call: If Carlos Tevez is scoring all the goals, Manchester City wins. If not, West Ham pulls an upset.

    Then City went and dismantled Sunderland 5-0 with Tevez only scoring once.

    Though it would be easy to say, given all of this evidence, that West Ham doesn’t stand a chance against City, City has shown nothing this season if not vulnerability.

    Can West Ham go to City of Manchester Stadium and win? No. Can they pull out a tough draw like they did against Tottenham at White Hart Lane? Yes.

    Prediction: Hammers 2 – 2 Manchester City

    Hammers Pick Up: One point

West Ham United vs. Blackburn Rovers

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    When: May 7th

    Where: Upton Park

    The Match: This home match against Blackburn is West Ham’s second-easiest match of the home stretch.

    Home in the heart of east London after tough away matches at Chelsea and City, the Hammers will be energized, hungry and looking to take as much as they can from the season in the last three matches.

    Blackburn will be coming off successive demoralizing losses to Everton, Manchester City and Bolton, only to face Manchester United the next week.

    West Ham’s energy and dedication will see them through.

    Prediction: Hammers 2 – 1 Blackburn

    Hammers Pick Up: Three points

West Ham United vs. Wigan Athletic

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    When: May 14th

    Where: DW Stadium

    The Match: Praise to all things holy that West Ham faces Wigan Athletic in its second-to-last match, a week after facing Blackburn.

    The Lactics are undoubtedly the worst team in the EPL this season. With only two games left in the season, their relegation will be certain. However, because of this, the team and fans will be hungry for blood, lusting for one last EPL win before the season in the Championship begins.

    But West Ham have too much mental fortitude to be rattled by such tropes. Wigan will put up a fight, but the team’s weak defense and inconsistent offense will let it down.

    Prediction: Hammers 3 -0 Wigan

    Hammers Pick Up: Three points

West Ham United vs. Sunderland

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    When: May 22nd

    Where: Upton Park

    The Match: A few months ago, no one would have expected that West Ham could stand a chance against Sunderland.

    But oh, how fortunes change. Darren Bent skipped off to Villa and the Black Cats fell into a brutal slump. Sunderland has lost six of its last seven matches, and hasn’t won since January 22nd.

    By the last week of the season, Sunderland will have come off a series of relatively easy games and be certain it is free of the relegation zone. The team will have nothing left to fight for.

    West Ham, meanwhile, will be playing before the Upton Park faithful for the last match of the season. The crowd will be forever blowing bubbles, and the rabble rousing will inspire the same on the pitch. Expect West Ham to win in a spirited bout.

    Prediction: Hammers 2 – 1 Sunderland

    Hammers Pick Up: Three points

So Where Does This Leave Us?

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    Assuming these predictions prove prophecy (and no doubt they will, as football predictions are never wrong), the Hammers will end the season with 46 points.

    Grant reckons the side can avoid relegation with 40 points, though only time will tell. Here’s to the Hammers, and a spirited and passionate end to the 2010-11 campaign, regardless of how it all ends.