Belfast Telegraph

We must beat Baggies - Allardyce

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes Saturday's clash with West Brom is a "must-win" for his relegation-threatened side.

While a Capital One Cup semi-final with Manchester City is on the horizon, so too is Championship football unless the Hammers buck up their ideas.

The 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Boxing Day was hardly unexpected given the way Arsene Wenger's side have performed this season, but that means little to the east Londoners.

Having thrown away the lead given to them by Carlton Cole, the loss means West Ham have now won just one of their last 11 Barclays Premier League matches.

Unsurprisingly, that form leaves them in the relegation zone ahead of this weekend's match with West Brom - the first of pivotal back-to-back matches, with a trip to Fulham following on New Year's Day.

"Our big games are the West Broms and Fulhams in the next two games," manager Allardyce said.

"It is about performing like that against those clubs, which give you a better chance to win the game.

"We have to believe, at the end of the day, that we will convert the chances as we did, certainly the home game a few weeks ago against Fulham.

"West Brom is becoming a must-win, so we have to go all out without being over anxious or over adventurous because if we start leaving back doors open and start conceding too many goals.

"We're going to have to score far more goals than we concede to win a game of football. That is not always the way forwards."

While trying to remain philosophical, Allardyce was clearly irked by the way his side failed to capitalise on their lead against Arsenal.

Matt Jarvis, Joey O'Brien and Cole were guilty of missing decent opportunities to put West Ham out of sight early in the second half, allowing Arsenal to comeback through Theo Walcott's brace and a Lukas Podolski strike.

"The chance to catch up is getting a little wider and wider each game when you don't pick up points," Allardyce said of the relegation scrap.

"But we have to take a lot of positives out of the way we played against Arsenal and make sure we played like that, like we did at Tottenham in the cup against West Brom.

"When we've had that opportunity recently, we haven't done that. We haven't played as well as that, apart from when we beat Fulham 3-0 here.

"We played Sunderland here and never got to this level so ended with a draw. We played against Aston Villa at a high level but didn't score. We played at Crystal Palace and lost and lost after going 1-0 up against Norwich.

"They are key let-downs. You can always lose to Arsenal even if you play your best.

"It is disappointing for the lads when they have put such a big effort in and made so many chances against this team and not finished the game off."

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