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West Ham face four away games that will define season

| 29.12.2013

Before travelling to the Hawthorns to face West Brom, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce had described it as a ‘must win match’. The Hammers were winning it after a 67th minute strike from Kevin Nolan but could only hold on to the lead for two minutes before Saido Berahino’s equaliser.

Allardyce blamed the goal on his side’s injuries with centre back James Tomkins coming off with a knock after his partner James Collins did the same in the Boxing Day defeat to Arsenal.

With eight players out, there is no doubt West Ham are struggling with injuries. However they’ve consistently failed to hold onto leads, losing more points from winning positions (11) than any other team in the league along with bottom club Sunderland.

Fulham are 10/1 to come from behind and win in West Ham’s next match, at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Day.

Having gone without a win in December, West Ham start the new year with four crunch away games: at fellow strugglers Fulham and Cardiff in the league with visits to Nottingham Forest and Manchester City in the FA Cup Third Round and League Cup Semi-Final respectively.

Big Sam will be looking to avoid the fate of his defeated opponents, with every opposition manager who has lost to West Ham in the league this season having been sacked.

While West Ham haven’t won an away game in the league since the stunning derby victory at White Hart Lane, their other two wins this season have come against their next two opponents Fulham and Cardiff – both despatched without conceding a goal.

With the West London side coming off the back of a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Hull and Cardiff still without a manager following Malky Mackay’s departure the Hammers can get the results they need to start 2014.

Currently in the relegation zone, West Ham are 9/5 to go down this season.

Another reason for optimism for the East London side is how their goal drought, suffered in the absence of lead striker Andy Carroll, has eased. West Ham have scored as many goals in their last three league games as they managed in their previous eight.

Modibo Maiga has bagged two in three games for the first time since October 2012 and there are rumours that former Sunderland striker Asomah Gyan could arrive on loan to give the forward line a further boost.

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Joseph Barnsley