Hull City-West Ham United Preview
Hull City will be hoping for a change in fortunes away from home as they travel to London to take on West Ham United on Sunday.
Steve Bruce's Hull (4-7-10) have won just one of their last 10 away games - keeping only a single clean sheet in that span - and have failed to score in five of their last seven away from the KC Stadium. Stuck in the relegation zone going into the latest round of matches, Hull have suffered 1-0 defeats to fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City in two of their last three, and centre-back James Chester admits the Tigers are desperate for a win.
"We've been making the odd mistake, like the one last weekend, this season and it's something we weren't really doing last season," Chester said. "That has been our downfall really, as well as losing to the teams that are around us in the table at the moment - the kind of teams we were beating last season.
"It was a very disappointed dressing room last Saturday but we're all confident that we can improve and start moving upwards."
Injury will keep out Abel Hernandez and Nikica Jelavic for up to a month, and manager Bruce this week admitted the club may well be active in the transfer market before January is out.
"There are one or two things going on and at some point I'm sure they'll leak into the media," Bruce said. "Whether we can progress anything today or tomorrow seems unlikely so we'll be going with what we've got against West Ham on Sunday. What we've got to do is make sure that anybody who comes in is going to hit the ground running. We have to find the right one for us and we'll keep trying."
Injuries have plagued the Tigers' season, and continue to do so. Liam Rosenior, Mohamed Diame and Robert Snodgrass are all out long term, and the trio of Sone Aluko, Gaston Ramirez and Andy Robertson likely will miss the trip to Upton Park.
Hosts West Ham (9-6-6) have no such injury crisis, but are likely to be missing key performers Winston Reid (ankle) and Diafra Sakho (back).
Sam Allardyce's side have shown signs of slipping off their terrific early season pace in recent weeks. The Hammers are without a win in four and have been held to 1-1 draws by Swansea City and West Brom in their last two games.
"We've been free-scoring and right at the top end, but we've only got four clean sheets and because of that it's cost us the 1-0 wins you look for when the games are tight," Allardyce acknowledged in his pre-match press conference. "We've been leading against West Brom, we've been leading against Swansea and you'd have expected at least one of those would have ended in a 1-0 victory. If we're going to start winning football matches again, we can't rely on needing to score more than once."
Fatigue may also be a concern for Hammers, who ousted Everton on penalty kicks after playing 120 minutes in their FA Cup third-round replay Tuesday.
Defending was an issue for West Ham when these teams met on Humberside in September, with the Tigers twice going ahead only to be pulled back by the Hammers.
The London club have won their last four league meetings with Hull at Upton Park by a 9-2 aggregate.