If there is one player who summarises West Ham’s season so far it is Michail Antonio. The striker was in scintillating form to start the season, scoring five goals in his first five appearances and generally worrying defences with his non-stop running.
While the Irons’ frontman is a handful for opposition defences he hasn’t been quite as prolific recently, scoring just twice since October. The goals have dried up but wingers Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini have certainly benefitted from their strikers physicality.
The wide pair, who both scored against Leeds on Sunday, will go head to head with Max Aarons and Brandon Williams on Wednesday night, and the Norwich fullbacks will certainly be kept busy. Williams, in particular, could be in for a tough evening.
The Manchester United loanee will be up against Lanzini who has stepped up in big games this term, scoring against both Manchester sides and Chelsea already, and will fancy his chances of having an impact against the team at the foot of the table. Williams, an England U21 international, is tenacious in the tackle but that has seen him booked four times already this term. It could well be a physical battle down the West Ham right.
That is a battle I expect to be won by the Argentine, making a Bet Builder of West Ham to have Over 6.5 corners, win the game and Norwich to have Over 1.5 cards @ 3.65 a handy price.
Rejuvenated Hammers heavy favourites as they chase top four
When this fixture was originally scheduled, for mid-December, West Ham were in poor form so Norwich may well be disappointed that their opponents have turned things around in the New Year.
A dominant 4-1 win over Watford was followed by a Lanzini inspired 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day before the weekend’s FA Cup triumph. Norwich, on the other hand, while victorious in the cup have had a torrid time in front of goal recently.
Milot Rashica’s winner against Charlton Athletic was Norwich’s first goal since November as Dean Smith‘s side have endured a terrible run of form, conceding 14 goals on their way to losing five straight league games. Even the last time the Canaries picked up a Premier League point was tinged with disappointment; failing to beat fellow strugglers Newcastle despite their opponents playing with 10 men for 81 minutes.
With his wingers playing well and Antonio always a worry, Hammers’ boss David Moyes will be confident of victory. The hosts are, unsurprisingly, heavily backed (priced at 1.251/4) but those looking for added value will be eyeing up West Ham to win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 @ 2.56/4.
The hosts have a well organised defence with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski behind them enjoying another impressive season. Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice also provide strong midfield cover, creating a unit that Norwich may well struggle to breakdown.
Officials will be on the spot again
There have been 56 penalties awarded so far in 2021/22, on pace to break the record set in a year for most spot kicks awarded in a season. In recent weeks, games involving both West Ham and Norwich have contributed significantly to that total.
Norwich have conceded, a league high, six spot kicks this term with three of those conceded in their last four league games. While West Ham’s last four have all featured penalties, two for the opposition and two for Wednesday’s hosts.
The man in the middle, Simon Hooper has awarded four penalties in the 16 games he has taken charge of this term and with both sides pushing for points at opposite ends of the table Hooper could find himself at the centre of attention.
In a game that could well be one sided, I expect a couple of penalty claims to arise, a penalty to be awarded is 2.47/5 and well worth a look.