Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce keeps predictions quiet

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is not about to make any bold predictions about whether his side can stay in the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

The fourth-placed Irons, who have suffered just one defeat in their last 10 matches, host bottom club Leicester on Saturday.

However, with the small matter of a trip to leaders Chelsea on Boxing Day followed by the visit of Arsenal before a New Year's Day date against West Brom at Upton Park, Allardyce knows all too well how quickly fortunes can change.

Southampton have found that out following four straight league defeats and exit from the Capital One Cup at Sheffield United.

"Confidence can be sky-high one minute and then can drain out of players the next," said Allardyce.

"We don't think that (a top-four place) is the case at the moment - we will cross that bridge when Christmas is over as it can all change so quickly.

"Being a manager who predicts what might or might not be is very dangerous because you get games where you don't get beaten for six like (Newcastle manager) Alan (Pardew) and now he is back in losing form because of injuries, particularly with his goalkeepers.

"Likewise, Southampton have lost five on the trot. There are swings and roundabouts in this game that is all so unpredictable.

"There is no good spouting off what you might or might not do because it might leap back and kick you right in the goolies.

"We have just got to keep the Christmas period going - Leicester, Chelsea and Arsenal - and try to get a few results along the way."

Allardyce understands his side have performed above expectations so far this season, beating the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City at home, boosted by the energetic performances of summer signings Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho.

"We would be in the top half, or in and around the middle of the table, not fourth," he said when asked what might have been a likely target at this stage of the season.

"I think we would be (there) apart from the fact we are free scoring, the goals have got us to where we wanted to go.

"Hopefully those goals will keep flowing over the Christmas period and that will keep us where we are."

Allardyce accepts the visit of the struggling Foxes, who are without a win in 11 matches, will be key, given the other matches that lie ahead.

"The most important thing is trying to get three points against Leicester because on paper, it is a more winnable game and we have got to focus and make sure that is the one we do win," he said.

"But it is only on paper because sooner or later, they will win a game.

"Nigel Pearson's team are so close to winning matches, they have just failed with their chances, but never really got hammered.

"So we have got make sure we are on song and not the ones that they turn the corner by gaining the victory against us."

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