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Leicester’s Friday night defeat to Newcastle opened the door for West Ham to gain some ground in the race for the top four when they faced Everton on Sunday afternoon, though Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike gave the toffees maximum points to keep their own faint top four hopes alive and gave them a boost to finish in the Europa League places.
Two goals in the final 15 minutes from Wolves sunk Brighton, though it’s purely academic at this point as Fulham’s 2-0 defeat to Burnley has confirmed the Seagull’s status as a Premier League side for another season at least.
You feel anything other than a win here for David Moyes’ side would end their Champions League challenge, though against this level of opposition there’s every reason to think they can get back to winning ways here.
Indeed, Newcastle are the only side in the bottom half that the Hammers have lost to this season, with their 2.18 ppg against such sides a phenomenal return.
Their recent form throws a shade of doubt over that though, as Jesse Lingard’s injury has acted as a catalyst for three defeats in their last four outings, and Brighton have proved all season that they can be a very dangerous side at times.
West Ham -1 Handicap Draw
Up against sides in the top six at the time of playing, Brighton have avoided defeat in half of their 22 matches under Graham Potter’s management, going W5-D6-L11 with eight of those 11 defeats coming against the traditional ‘big six’.
Only two of their 11 such games this season have seen them lose by more than one strike which is impressive considering the level of opposition in that bracket, and the handicap may be an excellent way to get the hosts onside here.
The story of Potter’s tenure here has seen his side constantly fall short of the results their performances deserve, and this could be another game to fit that narrative.
They’ve traditionally struggled at home, and despite an upturn in fortunes at the Amex recently, they’ve still suffered three defeats from three against sides placed fifth and above, with each of their last five defeats here coming by just the single strike.
71% of West Ham’s victories this season have come by that one goal margin, including six of their eight on the road, and all four away games against sides placed 12th or lower, leaving the single goal winning margin a good proposition in what is bound to be a hard fought outing.