West Ham striker Carlton Cole has been putting the smiles back on the faces of the Irons faithful with three strikes in their last five Premier League outings, but shrewd bubble blowers will be aware of their club’s continued problems in attack.
Two of Cole’s recent hits turned out to be consolations in losses to Manchester United and Arsenal, with the crucial first goal last time out at Cardiff helping the Hammers to their first league win since the end of November, nine games ago.
The former Chelsea youth bagged just seven times in 62 appearances during his last two Premier League seasons in east London prior to this term, which suggests his current purple patch won’t last.
Genoa striker Alberto Gilardino is the latest hitman linked with a move to the Upton Park outfit, who are unlikely to risk England’s Andy Carroll from the start against his old club Newcastle as the forward makes a tentative return from injury.
Sam Allardyce could use a player of 57-capped Italian Gilardino’s calibre against the Magpies, as West Ham have beaten their next opponents just twice in their last 16 meetings and have drawn blanks against them three times in their last four clashes.
Alan Pardew’s side’s recent form has been nothing to write home about, but they have won two of their last three away games in the top-flight to nil and rate a great bet at 16/5 to do the same here.
Hotshot French international Loc Remy may have gone off the boil in recent games, but the 27-year-old scored on his QPR debut at the Boleyn Ground this time last year and gets our nod as the 9/2 favourite to fire first in the match.
Allardyce will be hoping for better luck in his pursuit of Gilardino, who scored 36 league goals for AC Milan in 94 appearances between 2005-08, than he had during his attempt to sign Inter Milan youngster Ishak Belfodil.
The player’s co-owners, Parma, are thought to be responsible for blocking that deal, but West Ham are still hopeful of bringing in new Monaco signing Lacina Traore on loan before the start of February.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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