We’re delighted to welcome former West Ham striker Frank McAvennie as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the London Stadium…
Frank McAvennie believes an empty Bramall Lane will work in West Ham’s favour this weekend when David Moyes’ side take on Sheffield United.
The Blades are bottom of the Premier League table and have scored just four goals in their opening eight matches going into their clash against the Hammers on Sunday.
Chris Wilder’s side were thoroughly impressive last season as they finished ninth, just two points behind Arsenal, and were a good shout to qualify for Europe for most of the campaign.
However, McAvennie has hinted that second-season syndrome could have set in at Bramall Lane and he sees this as a game which West Ham should pick up three points.
“It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s home or away now because there are no fans,” McAvennie told West Ham Zone. “Bramall Lane is a hard place to go but with no fans, it evens it out.
“Sheffield United are a good team, they’re well organised, but it’s definitely a winnable game for West Ham.
“They’re not doing as well this season as they were last season when they were the surprise package. Maybe they’ve been found out this year.”
According to stats by FBRef, Sheffield United have underperformed in their opening eight matches as they have an xG of 7.2 but have only scored four goals – two of which from the penalty spot.
Defensively, they’re one of the worst teams with an xGA of 12.5. West Brom and Leeds are the only team who are expected to have conceded more goals at this stage.
West Ham should be trying to expose the Blades’ wastefulness in front of goal and also their frail defence.
Moyes’ men have started the season brilliantly despite a tough run of fixtures so, as McAvennie says, you would expect them to win this match.
But that doesn’t mean we should get complacent. Sheffield United did well last season because they’re a good team that has the ability to turn up and beat almost anyone in the league.