West Ham v Blackpool preview: Hammers must stop Adam
West Ham are the favourites in what is a must-win game
Patronised by pundits and written off by the public, Blackpool arrive at Upton Park this Saturday sitting comfortably in 12th place after wracking up 14 points.
Many predicted that the Lancastrians would not beat Derby’s record lowest points total of 11, but with not even a quarter of the season gone, those disrespectful predictions have been proved foolish.
Impressive away victories at Wigan, Newcastle and Liverpool see them four points above the drop zone.
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These victories have come by the Tangerines taking the game to the opposition, with Manchester United and Chelsea the only two teams who have netted more goals on the road than Blackpool.
Ever-enthusiastic Ian Holloway is an excellent motivator, so much so that his tactical awareness is often overlooked, with the media more keen to focus on his outgoing personality.
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Top scorer with four strikes, Charlie Adam is Holloway’s big player and the former Rangers midfielder will pull the strings in the middle of the park and although reasonably direct, most of their attacks start with him.
An energetic side, Blackpool harass and force their opponents into mistakes, key to their good start to the campaign.
Key to the game
If West Ham stop Adam from playing then they stop their most creative outlet, which will force them to play a more direct game which should suit the Hammers.
Both teams are likely to play a 4-3-3 formation and the Hammers must keep an eye out for the in-form Luke Varney whose ability to cut in from the flanks has led to three goals this term.
If they can nullify those two, then it will be tough for Blackpool to get at West Ham.
Former Hammer Marlon Harewood has been used mainly as a substitute with DJ Campbell preferred as the centre forward, but his strength and prowess in front of goal must not be ignored, with an appearance from the sidelines likely at some point.
An obvious potential banana skin for West Ham, due in part to Blackpool’s success on the road.
It is dangerous to write the Tangerines off and although mentally frail at times having let leads against Newcastle, Wolves and most recently Birmingham slip, the Hammers have three in-form strikers.
Carlton Cole, Frederic Piquionne and Victor Obinna have all been playing well of late and you would expect West Ham to have too much attacking prowess for the visitors’ defence.
West Ham 3 Blackpool 1