Good afternoon and thank you for joining Sports Mole
for live text commentary of today’s Premier League match between West Ham United
and Fulham at Upton Park.
Today’s game sees two of the league’s bottom four going head to head, with the outcome potentially crucial to Premier League survival.
The recent form of each team could not be worse. West Ham are without a win in five games, while Fulham have lost four in a row.
Despite struggling at the lower end of the table, West Ham have kept six clean sheets this season, a joint Premier League high with Southampton and Everton.
It is in attack where they have had big problems, having scored just 9 goals this season. Their lack of a recognised striker due to Andy Carroll’s injury problems has cost them dearly. Ravel Morrison
is the club’s leading scorer in the league, having bagged three goals.
TEAM NEWS: The starting line ups for both teams have just been announced and I can bring them to you now, starting with the home side.
WEST HAM XI: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Jarvis, Diame, Noble, Downing, Nolan, Maiga
FULHAM XI: Stekelenburg, Zverotic, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson, Duff, Sidwell, Parker, Kasami, Taarabt, Bent
WEST HAM SUBS: Adrian, Collison, Taylor, Morrison, O'Brien, C.Cole, J.Cole
FULHAM SUBS: Stockdale, Senderos, Ruiz, Kacaniklic, Karagounis, Boateng, Dembele
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce
makes four changes after last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea. Joe Cole
, Ravel Morrison
, Jack Collison
and Joey O'Brien
all drop to the bench, with George McCartney
, Mohamed Diame
, Modibo Maiga
and Matt Jarvis
The big team news for Fulham this afternoon, is that Dimitar Berbatov
misses out through illness so Darren Bent
is named as the lone striker. Brede Hangeland is still ruled out having failed to recover from a nerve problem.
It has not been a great season for fans at Upton Park this season so far. The Hammers last won a game at home in the league on the first day of the season, when goals from Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan
helped them to a 2-0 victory
over Cardiff City.
The two teams have met 14 times in Premier League history, with the Hammers winning the majority of the outcomes. They have triumphed over their London rivals eight times, losing just two of their meetings.
One of those games Fulham came out on top was a 3-1 win, which is the last time that the two sides met. Dimitar Berbatov
, Hugo Rodallega
and an own goal by Joey O'Brien
led them to victory at Craven Cottage, with Kevin Nolan
netting for the visitors.
Something that really stands out is the fact that West Ham are playing without a recognised striker, which explains why they have struggled to score goals this season. In a press conference this week Sam Allardyce
revealed that Andy Carroll
is close to a comeback. “We hope Andy will be back with us to start some training next week. It's tentative in our approach to it. We can't get over-anxious and push him too hard. We need to get him fit to stay fit."
PREDICTION: It is going to be an incredibly tense atmosphere at Upton Park due to each team’s recent struggles. I expect the game to be a cagey affair and winning the midfield battle this afternoon will be key to the result. A single goal could be enough to settle the outcome, with a 1-0 win to West Ham how I see this one finishing.
There are a couple of other games taking place today that fans of West Ham and Fulham will be paying close attention to. Fellow strugglers Norwich City are playing Crystal Palace, while Aston Villa host bottom of the table Sunderland.
There are just 10 minutes left until today's match gets started, with fans still making their way into the ground.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson
will be in charge of today's game.
it is a big day today for Kevin Nolan and Scott Parker
, who will both be making their 350th Premier League appearances.
KICKOFF! West Ham get the game underway at Upton Park.
The home side have seen plenty of the ball in these early stages without forcing a chance on goal yet.
It looks like Jarvis is going to an outlet for the home side down the left wing, as they have tried to pick him out with long raking passes over the top on a couple of occasions now.
Taarabt is one of the players on the pitch who we know can make a difference, and he shows glimpses of his skill by weaving his way to the edge of the box, but is closed down well by the home defence as he looked to slip in Bent.
West Ham have a period of pressure on the Fulham goal but they are unable to create a clear opening. The ball finally falls to Nolan on the edge of the box, but his strike is put behind for a corner.
The corner comes to nothing as the referee gives Fulham a free kick for pushing inside the box.
YELLOW CARD! Richardson hacks down Downing and gives away a free kick in a promising position on the right hand side, as well as picking up a booking.
OFF THE POST! West Ham almost take the lead, as from Noble's free kick, Maiga makes contact with the ball and is unlucky to see his effort come back off the woodwork!
YELLOW CARD! Tomkins is the next player to go into the referee's book with a lunging challenge on Kasami. He was lucky just to see a yellow as it was late and could have caused an injury to his opponent.
Fulham win a free kick around 35 yards out from goal and Zverotic steps up to take it, but fires it high and wide. It was a really poor effort as they had the chance to get players forward and create problems inside the box.
The home side are certainly in control and taking the game to their opponents. They win a free kick in midfield that they play long, with the ball eventually falling to Diame, who fires a half-volley from the edge of the area over the bar.
West Ham hit Fulham on the counter attack with Jarvis breaking at pace down the left, however when the midfielder cuts inside, he takes a heavy touch and the visiting defence are able to stop the move.
The Hammers are getting into some good positions near to their opponents byline and Maiga wins a corner after a good run.
CHANCE! From the resulting set-piece, Collins meets the ball well, but his header drifts just wide of the post.
YELLOW CARD! There have been some poor challenges today and Sidwell is booked for dragging down Maiga. It would be no surprise to see anyone sent off at some point this afternoon.
Fulham look to pose an attacking threat, and Bent does well to bring down a long ball, before laying it off to Taarabt, who sees his strike deflect wide for a corner.
The visitors are unable to work an opening as West Ham clear the set-piece. They haven't been able to get on the ball too much in the first quarter of the game and may see dead ball situations as an important part of their attacking threat.
YELLOW CARD! This is a controversial booking! McCartney hauls down Bent on the edge of the box, with the striker through on goal, and only sees a yellow card. It was a clear goalscoring opportunity and surely should have been a sending off.
Fulham waste the free kick, as Richardson hammers a strike well over the bar.
The away team are starting to see a lot more of the ball now and Kasami works his way to the edge of the box, before firing an effort wide.
Both teams have failed to keep hold of the ball, with a lot of passes going astray. It has been a really scrappy encounter, but there is plenty of passion out there on the pitch as shown by some of the tackles we have seen today.
After a good passage of passing football from the Hammers, the ball is worked to Jarvis on the left wing. He cuts inside and tries to bend a ball to the back post, but gets it horribly wrong and curls it well wide.
It's clear to see why both teams have struggled for goals this season, especially West Ham. Every time the home team play the ball long, there is no one challenging the defence and too often it has drifted through harmlessly to the keeper.
We are going to have two minutes of added time at the end of the half.
CHANCE! The ball is whipped to the back post, where Nolan finds himself free, but his acrobatic attempt is hit straight at the keeper.
YELLOW CARD! Diame is the fifth player this afternoon to be booked after a poor tackle on Duff.
HALF-TIME: West Ham United 0-0 Fulham
After 45 minutes at Upton Park, it is goalless between West Ham and Fulham. There hasn't been many clear cut chances, with Maiga having the only attempt of note when he hit the post early on. It has been a scrappy affair, with more bookings than shots on target.
A look at the half time Stats show that West Ham have enjoyed the lion's share of possession, having seen 59% of the ball. That may be slightly unfair on Fulham, who certainly came into the game more over the last 15-20 minutes of the half.
The two teams troubles in front of goal this season can be summed up by that first half. Of the 16 shots on goal so far, only three were on target, and they all came from the home side.
Looking at the substitutes available this afternoon, West Ham have plenty of options if they want to change things around. Joe Cole, Carlton Cole
and Ravel Morrison are all players who can make a difference. Fulham are relatively short on forward options, but Bryan Ruiz
could inject some spark into their attacking play.
The players are making their way back out onto the pitch and we are just moments away from the second half.
Fulham take the kick off and we are back underway.
GOAL! West Ham United 1-0 Fulham (Diame)
Within two minutes of the restart West Ham have the lead. Diame picks up the ball in the centre of the pitch and runs at the Fulham defence. He attempts a strike on goal, which takes a huge deflection off Amorebieta and leaves Stekelenburg wrong-footed, before finding the back of the net.
That goal has changed the atmosphere around the ground, with the home fans understandably overjoyed at taking the lead. It was a really fortuitous goal and Fulham will feel hard done by if it settles the game today.
Fulham aren't feeling sorry for themselves and have begun to push forward more. They do well to work the ball wide to Duff, who delivers a teasing cross to the back post. It is missed by Bent, with the ball dropping to Kasami who was unable to control.
The home side work a good crossing position for Noble, but ball into the middle is too long, with Maiga waiting in the middle.
CHANCE! Maiga cuts inside from the right, before firing a powerful left-footed effort that Stekelenburg does brilliantly to push wide. West Ham recover the ball, and Downing works it onto his left foot, before blasting a strike over the bar.
CHANCE! Tomkins can't believe he hasn't found the back of the net, as his header from Downing's corner is cleared off the line.
SUBSTITUTION: Duff's game is over and Ruiz is on in his place.
CHANCE! Diame gives the ball away poorly in midfield to Kasami, who takes a touch before firing a left-footed effort wide.
SUBSTITUTION: Joe Cole is on, with Jarvis making way.
OFF THE BAR! West Ham come close to scoring a second fortunate goal of the afternoon! Downing whips in a teasing cross from the right hand side, that beats everyone and comes back off the bar, with Stekelenburg looking mightily relieved.
Collins is lucky to escape a booking when he brings down Parker, but Fulham are awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal that Ruiz will take.
CHANCE! The free kick from Ruiz is easily cleared by West Ham and they break at pace. The ball is played to Cole and he cuts inside from the left, before unleashing an effort on goal that is hit straight at the keeper.
Fulham are finding it hard to get the ball into their opponents final third, with Taarabt playing an aimless pass that Bent has no chance of latching onto.
SUBSTITUTION: Morrison is on for West Ham, replacing Nolan.
SUBSTITUTION: Fulham also make a change with Karagounis coming on for Sidwell.
Another Fulham attack breaks down giving West Ham the chance to hit them on the break. Noble carries the ball a long way before laying it off to Maiga, but his low effort fails to trouble the keeper.
SUBSTITUTION: After that missed effort Maiga makes way and Carlton Cole comes on in his place.
CHANCE! West Ham cause problems in their opponents penalty area with Diame seeing a shot blocked. The ball then falls to Morrison, who fires wide from close range.
GOAL! West Ham United 2-0 Fulham (Carlton Cole)
The substitute has only just come on but he's scored for West Ham! The ball is slipped through to Downing, and his low cross to the back post finds Cole who has the simple task of guiding it into the back of the net.
SUBSTITUTION: Richardson comes off with Dembele taking his place.
West Ham were crying out for a striker and having just arrived on the pitch Cole has given them a two goal lead, which they will be desperate to hang onto.
GOAL! West Ham United 3-0 Fulham (Joe Cole)
The home side have made the game safe thanks to a sweet strike from Joe Cole. Morrison was the architect as he weaved his way down the left hand side, before laying the ball off to Cole on the edge of the area, with the midfielder firing a low effort beyond the keeper.
We are going to have three minutes of time added on at the end of the half.
CHANCE! The substitutes have made a real difference for West Ham today and Morrison shows more of his magic inside the box. After going past two Fulham challenges, he plays the ball back to Cole, but his powerful effort is well saved by the keeper.
FULL-TIME: West Ham United 3-0 Fulham
What a huge win that was for West Ham! They have scored three second-half goals to beat Fulham this afternoon at Upton Park. Two late goals from Joe Cole and Carlton Cole sealed the three points and will help to ease their relegation fears.
As far as Fulham are concerned, it is a crushing blow to their hopes of survival and will no doubt heap further pressure on their manager Martin Jol
. They lacked any attacking threat and can have no complaints about the final outcome despite the bad luck they suffered with their opponents first goal.
That's all we've got time for here, please stay with Sports Mole for all of today's results and news and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend! Goodbye!