|Please Sir, can we have some more?|
Today's clash with Hull City presents a key moment in the Hammers season as, after a series of draws following a disappointing Christmas spell, Big Sam's troops find themselves rapidly drifting towards mid-table obscurity. Even more concerning than the poor points haul of late, is the reality that performances in the drawn matches against West Brom and Swansea were below par, while a ten-man Everton more than competed against West ham for an hour during Tuesday night's FA cup tie.
The absence of Sakho and Kouyate certainly weakens his hand, but Allardyce will hope that Enner Valencia can develop on his goal in the midweek FA cup dramafest against Everton, while Alex Song should be fit to start.
Valencia's form has been in and out, and despite newspaper reports suggesting that he was the star performer for West Ham on the night, many observers noted that he seems to be suffering from a dip in confidence - with a series of poor touches, followed by a tame one on one miss, and then getting in the way of a certain Song goal evidence from the first half that things have not been working out for him of late. That said, his goal was well taken and who can forget his stunning strike in the 2-2 clash at the KC stadium earlier this season which serves as evidence of what the lad is capable of. Today should be a chance for him to kick on.
Reid remains unavailable due to an ankle injury. How many times have players holding out until the end of contracts picked up injuries along the way and suddenly found themselves much less desirable to would-be wooers? The conspiracy theorists will undoubtedly wonder if he is being rested prior to a January exit which, given that European football is looking less likely after our recent run of results, may now be inevitable as Winston seeks a new challenge.
In other news, Ricky Vaz Te has departed to Turkey in a mutually agreed termination of his contract. Ricky never quite delivered in the Premiership, but there can be no doubting his contribution to our presence in the top league as his arrival three years ago during the January transfer window kick started a Hammers side who after a good start to their promotion campaign, found themselves unable to win games and were sliding down the Championship. Maybe his departure will allow a new face to come in who can similarly reignite our push for Europe this season? Either way, it seems such a waste that he has spent so much of his recent career not playing - just think of the job he might have done for any of the Championship promotion wannabes this season?
Hull arrive in poor shape - a poor away record, currently languishing in the relegation zone, and with both Hernandez and Jelavic crocked. They will surely struggle to score goals and would almost certainly be happy with a point, so we better brace ourselves for a conservative approach from Steve Bruce's men. Let's hope big Sam doesn't play it too conservative as this is a game where Amalfitano should definitely start ahead of Nolan. If we can get an early goal it should be an enjoyable encounter. If not, Hull can expect a Carlton-Andy bludgeoning for the last 20 minutes as this is one we simply MUST win.
Rory Nostradamus predicts a 2-0 home win.