Unfortunately, due to being tarred with Big Sam Allardyce’s filthy managerial brush, the thought of settling down on the sofa on Sunday to watch Blackburn take on West Ham doesn’t immediately inspire us. But we’re wrong.
Sundays in February are made for lazy days watching heaps of sport, while temperatures outside drop quicker than Ashley Young under pressure, and the post-New Year blues begin to evaporate. The FA Cup might not be as ‘magical’ as the press want you to believe, but we’re still expecting some entertaining stuff, particularly from a West Ham side playing some lovely stuff under Slaven Bilic.
While Sam Allardyce’s three-and-a-half year spell might not have evoked memories of beautiful football, Bilic’s West Ham are playing the free-flowing stuff Hammers fans have been purring about. West Ham have 40 goals to their name, and have found the onion bag in 81 per cent of their matches this season – only Leicester have been hitting the net more often. The Hammers sit just one point off the top five, and we’re backing them to progress to the next round of the FA Cup on Sunday as well.
These five bets have caught our eye, with prices ranging from 4/6 to 9/1 we’re hoping to line our pockets on a lazy Sunday of sport.
Under 2.5 goals –
It might not be a punt that screams entertainment, but it does look a likely winner. Almost half of West Ham’s league games this season (46 per cent) have featured under 2.5 goals, but it’s Blackburn’s statistics in this area that have caught the eye. In 76 per cent of their league games in the Championship there have been under 2.5 goals – including in the last 11 on the spin. There’s been an average of just 1.64 goals a game at Ewood Park this season – no home fans in England’s top four leagues have seen fewer goals per game.
West Ham to keep a clean sheet –
Blackburn have managed just 25 goals in the Championship this season, and have failed to hit the back of the net in 43 per cent of their home contests. Rovers look as deadly going forward as a binbag full of jelly, and that should fill West Ham keeper Adrian with plenty of confidence. The Hammers have just eight clean sheets to their name in the Premier League this year, but they have a fantastic chance of shutting a misfiring Blackburn side out on Sunday.
Half-time/Full-Time: Draw/West Ham –
While we fancy West Ham to win the tie, it might not come as easily as some fans would like. West Ham have started slower than my Nan’s Fiat Panda in recent weeks, and of their last 14 goals, just two have come in the first half. In total, 63 per cent of West Ham’s 40 league goals have come after the oranges, and despite Blackburn’s ropey form, they can keep the Hammers at bay for the first 45 minutes at least. Since the turn of the year Blackburn have played six Championship games and it has been level in four of them. Expect the teams to be deadlocked heading into the break again this weekend.
Dimitri Payet to score anytime –
Dimitri Payet’s £125k-a-week contract now makes him the highest paid player in West Ham’s history, but with seven goals and five assists in the league this season he arguably deserves it. That means he’s played a direct part in 30 per cent of West Ham’s league goals this season, and he can provide a winning touch in the clash with Blackburn. Payet’s goal against Norwich on Saturday ended a 667 minute drought – but he shouldn’t have to wait too long to find the net again.
West Ham to win 2-0 –
West Ham have 10 wins in the league this season, and six have been by a two goal margin. Add to the mix that West Ham have scored exactly two goals in 11 of their 26 games (42 per cent) – more than any other Premier League team this year – and this 9/1 shot has us giddier than a bus full of geese. Blackburn lost 2-0 on Saturday at home to Hull, but that was Rovers only loss by a two goal margin in the Championship this year. Eight of Blackburn’s 10 defeats have been by a single goal, but they’re playing a side a level up from the Championship and the gulf in class can help West Ham to a 2-0 success.