Marcus Braddock gives his take on this weekend's FA Cup tie
This Sunday afternoon will see us entertain Premier League West Ham United in the third round of the F.A. Cup. Given their lofty status in comparison to ours, excitement is high amongst Shrewsbury Town fans as the Match of the Day cameras roll in to Town. West Ham have always been a fashionable club with Ray Winstone, Barrack Obama and Her Majesty the Queen all said to have a soft spot for the club. Russell Brand, Lennox Lewis, and Kris Akabusi are also keen Hammers although it's not clear if they'll share a minibus or travel separately.
The Hammers have had a tricky season so far and replaced manager Slaven Billic with David Moyes in November after a poor start to the season that saw them languish at the bottom of the top division. In the last few days they've taken four points from a home win against West Brom and an away draw at Tottenham Hotspurs.
Many of us will remember David Moyes from his time here as a player in the 1990's, my memory is of a committed, battler who could also play a bit. His history as a manager is pretty well known, he started with Preston, made his name with Everton and showed courage in taking on Manchester United at one of the most difficult times in their recent history. In the end, his 52 games with United may not have been anywhere near enough to sort things out but the pressure intensified the situation and they parted company.
His move to Spain and Real Sociedad looked a good one at the time, a fresh challenge and all that but patchy form saw him leave after just a year. A season at Sunderland followed, another courageous decision but, like a few others, he wasn't able to sort out the problems at the Stadium of Light in the short time given. His appointment at West Ham could end up a good one, he has good backing, a broad supporter base and a new stadium in the Olympic Park.
Top Scorers (cup goals in brackets)
Andre Ayew 3(3)
Marko Arnautovic 5
Javier Hernandez 4
Diafra Sakho 2(2)
Manuel Lanzini 5
Aaron Creswell 4
Six in twenty-two Premier League games, two of which came from away games. Two from four League cup games.
Goal Distribution (Premier League games only)
The second half is when West Ham are at their most vulnerable with 68% of their conceded goals coming in the second half. Ten of those goals have come in the last fifteen minutes of away games with seven in the preceding half an hour of play.
Their strongest period of the game is the fifteen minutes before half time during which they have scored four times and conceded three. Their poorest period in terms of goals scored is the first fifteen minutes of the second half with no goals scored in twelve away games this season.
Paul Tierney from Lancashire. Games this season: 15. Yellow Cards: 42. Red Cards: 0.
The Hammers have drawn 42% of their away games and have also failed to score in 42%. Both teams have scored in 50% of their away games against a Premier League average of 46%. They score first in fifty percent of away games with the away team scoring first 42% of the time.
As has been well publicised, after just a couple of games over Christmas West Ham United have to play three games between Tuesday and Sunday which will test the depths of their squad. Last night’s game saw Aaron Creswell and Marko Arnautovic sidelined and Andy Carroll on the bench. Joe Hart is tipped to return to Shrewsbury Town between the sticks in place of Adrian.
Shrewsbury Town have had a six day rest following their 4 games in 10 days over Christmas which is just as well as this is the first of three games in six days for us. Other than Junior Brown, Paul Hurst has no serious injury worries and has just signed left sided defender Max Lowe from Derby County
When we finished the Oldham game, our next fixture was in the cup against a team in the relegation zone but things change quickly and now our opponents are now unbeaten in three and clear of the bottom three. Based on their last eight games, West Ham have the eighth best attack in the Premier League with some excellent options to choose from upfront. Defensively they look a fairly strong unit that have managed eight clean sheets in all competitions, although they're in the bottom half so things aren't totally peachy in that area.
There has been lots of talk about sacrificing this game and second teams but I wonder how much of that is just talk. Surely extending their unbeaten record is better than an embarrassing defeat that could throw their rhythm. Obviously some players have had knocks and won’t be risked but let's not forget that the value of just one of their squad players is often more than our squad and stadium put together. However, I still think that we will give a performance that we can all be proud of, whatever the result.