West Ham play host to relegation threatened Fulham in the Premier League on Friday night with the pressure growing on Claudio Ranieri. 

The Hammers will be looking to secure a first win in five matches, having not tasted victory since the 1-0 victory against Arsenal on home turf last month.

For Fulham, the immediate forecast looks bleak with the west London club languishing dangerously inside the Premier League’s relegation zone, some eight points adrift safety.

Manuel Pellegrini and Co took maximum points in the reverse fixture, but anything less than a win for Ranieri will leave the club teetering on the brink of a top-flight exit.

Read on for West Ham vs Fulham live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.

When is West Ham vs Fulham?

Competition: Premier League

Venue: London Stadium

Date: Friday, 22 February

Kick-off: 7.45 PM GMT

Match preview

The appointment of Ranieri looked like a shrewd piece of business when the Italian took the helm in November, but the Cottagers have looked unconvincing under his guidance and are in dire straits ahead of this crunch clash.

Fulham owner Shahid Khan described the installation of Ranieri as a “risk-free” move, but three months into his tenure and there is a growing frustration presiding over Craven Cottage.

Fans are beginning to turn on the ‘The Tinkerman’ who has failed to appease fans with his team selection in recent outings; both Ryan Sessegnon and Tom Cairney could only make the bench in the 3-0 defeat to Man Utd, which was met by a chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

Tensions are growing and only a win will alleviate that mounting frustration, but West Ham will not roll over when the two London clubs meet.

Pellegrini has built a cohesive squad and the club will welcome back key players for this fixture, including talisman Manuel Lanzini who has returned to training following an eight-month absence, and Fabian Balbuena, who has missed the previous 10 matches.

Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel: sqwk.at/Squawka-Sub

Where can I watch live?

UK residents can watch West Ham vs Fulham on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, channels 401 and 402 respectively on Sky and channels 501 and 502 respectively for Virgin Media users.

Will Manuel Lanzini make his first appearance of the season?

It was the news that devastated West Ham hearts and put a significant dampener on the growing excitement around the appointment of Pellegrini: Lanzini could potentially miss the entire season.

In May 2018 the diminutive playmaker was named in Argentina’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup but just a month later he ruptured his anterior knee ligament and there was suggestion he may never play football again.

And so, all of a sudden that mouthwatering prospect of seeing the magician flourish under the guidance of Pellegrini seemed but a mere fantasy. However, the 26-year-old has made a remarkable recovery and that pipe dream could yet turn to reality on Friday.

The Chilean boss confirmed Lanzini is in the squad to face Fulham and he may be given minutes depending on how the match pans out.

Will Ryan Sessegnon be recalled?

Ranieri has come under the spotlight for his reluctance to provide Sessegnon a starting berth in his XI recently, leaving the talented teenager on the bench for the past four matches.

This has not gone down well with the Fulham faithful who want to see their shining academy star help the club climb out of the relegation zone, but there is a reticence on the part of Ranieri.

However, after two disastrous performances – and results – in the previous two matches, Ranieri may be tempted to reintroduce Sessegnon, who will certainly add some much-needed vibrancy and flair.

If the youngster does not feature – and Fulham lose – Ranieri will struggle to get the fans back on side for the remainder of the campaign.

Where is it going wrong for Fulham?

Ranieri’s predecessor, Slavisa Jokanovic, forged a reputation for playing a pleasing brand of football, and the summer window seemed to mirror that philosophy, with the club identifying elegant rather than robust players.

However, that script has been thrown out the window with Ranieri preferring pragmatism over idealism, asking his players to forget about the aesthetics and win football matches at any cost.

The problem he faces on that front is that players in the mould of Jean Michael Seri and Andre Schurrle are not used to relegation dogfights and scrapping it out for narrow 1-0 wins – the message is simply not getting across.

Head-to-head

West Ham come out on top in the head-to-head department, winning 15 more matches – of the 102 contested – than Fulham since the clubs first locked horns in December 1898.

West Ham wins: 47 Draws: 23 Fulham wins: 32

Team news

Lanzini has returned for this fixture, while Samir Nasri, who was also in contention to make the squad, has been ruled out after not recovering from a knee complication.

Balbuena is also set to make a long-awaited return after sustaining a knee problem during the 2-0 defeat to Watford in December, while Jack Wilshere remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, Fulham continue to go without centre-back Alfie Mawson and goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli who are also recuperating from knee injuries.

There is positive news for Fulham with January signing Lazar Markovic set to play a part having built up his fitness over recent weeks, while Havard Nordtveit could return to face his former side after joining the club on-loan from Hoffenheim last month.

Predicted West Ham XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell; Noble, Rice; Anderson, Snodgrass, Antonio; Arnautovic.

Predicted Fulham XI: Rico; Odoi, Le Merchand, Ream, Bryan; Seri, Anguissa, Cairney; Sessegnon, Schurrle, Mitrovic.

Predictions & Betting Tips

Get the BetBull sign-up offer HERE – Ts&Cs apply. +18 only. BeGambleAware.org

1. West Ham to win by one goal or draw @ 10/11

West Ham will be looking to achieve their first double over any team this season having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture, and their visitors on Friday have not won an away league match against them since November 2001.

Given Fulham’s current plight, it’s unlikely they will break that unwanted record tonight.

Key Stat: Fulham have not won their in last nine Premier League matches away to West Ham.

Tip: West Ham to win by one goal or draw @ 10/11 with BetBull – bet here

Odds correct at time of publishing (22/02/2019, 10:30)

18+ only. Ts&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org

2. Both teams to score @ 5/8

Most of Fulham’s problems this season have come defensively with the club conceding 58 – the most in the league – so expect West Ham to have no problems exposing a very leaky defence.

That said, Fulham haven’t exactly impressed at the other end of the pitch, but they have fired a blank in the previous two matches and surely Ranieri won’t let that run stretch to three.

Key Stat: Fulham have conceded the most goals in the Premier League this season (58).

Tip: Both teams to score @ 5/8 with BetBull – bet here

Odds correct at time of publishing (22/02/2019, 10:30)

18+ only. Ts&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org

3. Marko Arnautovic to Score Anytime @ 10/11

Arnautovic is still looking for redemption following his collapsed move to China and he hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the West Ham fanbase since signing a new contract.

This is a huge chance for the Austrian to rediscover his trust with a very passionate set of supporters.

Key Stat: Of West Ham players to have played over 400 PL minutes, Arnautovic averages the best shots per 90 minutes (2.8).

Tip: Marko Arnautovic to Score Anytime @ 10/11 with BetBull – bet here

Odds correct at time of publishing (22/02/2019, 10:30)

18+ only. Ts&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org

Search squawkagaming on BetBull to follow all our tips for West Ham vs Fulham and more.

Source link – http://www.squawka.com/en/news/west-ham-vs-fulham-predictions-and-match-preview/1083207