Relegation worries have started to resurface for a West Ham team that’s lost three in a row, making today’s visit from Hull City even more important. In a match kicking off at 3:45 p.m. ET (available on NBC Sports Live Extra), the Hammers have a chance to ease worries their recent slump hints at a relegation battle. Lose to Steve Bruce’s team, however, and those worries become real, with an upset loss at home confirming suspicions the Irons can be drawn toward the bottom three.
If Hull’s away form is any indication, West Ham’s struggles transcend the Tigers’ 12th place standing. With wins at Sunderland and Cardiff City, Hull has won its last two league games on the road, doubling the win total they took into the Stadium of Light. With only five wins in 15 home games, the Hammers problems at Upton Park converge with a Tigers’ team gaining confidence away from home.
Hull will rely on a striker tandem of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, with the two winter window acquisitions still developing their partnership up top. In the middle, however, Hull has been able to lean on the play of Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore – two Spurs imports who have emboldened the Tigers’ relatively worry-free season. Despite lacking a player who has scored more than three goals for them in league, Hull has managed to stay clear to any relegation concerns.
For West Ham, Andy Carroll (pictured) will make his fifth start of the season, with team-leading goal scorer Kevin Nolan looking to continue profiting from a partnership that dates back to the players’ time sat Newcastle. Winger Matthew Jarvis has not recovered from the thigh injury suffered against Manchester United, though James Tomkin’s ankle hasn’t kept the defender from getting the call at the back.
West Ham United: Adrían; Dumel, Collins, Tomkins, McCartney; Noble, Diame; Downing, Nolan, Taylor; Carroll
Subs: Jasskelainen, Armero, Vaz Te, C. Cole, J. Cole, Johnson, Nocerino
Hull City: McGregor; Chester, Bruce, Davies; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Figueroa; Long, Jelavic
Subs: Harper, Rosenior, Koren, Fryatt, Sagbo, Aluko, Quinn