Pre-season favourites to win the Championship, West Ham will enter Saturday’s playoff final as 21/20 favourites to beat Blackpool in 90 minutes.
A third place finish was adjudged an underachievement for Sam Allardyce’s men by many, so their need to gain promotion by any means takes on further precedence this weekend.
The Hammers have met Blackpool only four times in the past 30 years, and have emerged victorious on three of those occasions, whilst also avoiding defeat in all four ties.
Allardyce’s charges also enter the playoffs in terrific form, unbeaten in their last eight matches, and winning six of those games in the process.
However, their opponents will head to Wembley in similarly sparkling form.
Although Blackpool’s last nine matches have featured four draws, they have avoided defeat across this stretch of matches, and may fancy their chances of a second playoff success in three years.
Ian Holloway’s men will play with the bravery and attacking edge that defined their Premier League season last term, and could see support at 13/5 to win in normal time.
A tremendous playoff record could also tempt punters to get behind the Seasiders, as their 2-2 draw away to Birmingham last week represented the first time Blackpool failed to win a game of this format in ten outings.
Another draw is 12/5 on Saturday, though the last time that outcome resulted in a meeting of these sides, the match was a Premier League fixture.
The aforementioned attacking nature of Blackpool’s play could prove their downfall at the weekend though, with West Ham primed to capitalise via a renewed brand of counter attacking football.
Such a playing style led to two of the Hammers’ three goals in their Upton Park playoff win over Cardiff, and having hit four goals in both league meetings with Blackpool this season, the Iron will fancy their chances of racking up another impressive haul.