West Ham United-West Brom Preview
By RYAN WILLOX
(AP) -- Sunday's encounter between West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United at the Hawthorns features two teams trying to get their Premier League campaigns back on track after promising starts have fizzled in recent weeks.
The Baggies began November win four straight League wins before consecutive losses to Swansea, Stoke and Arsenal brought their momentum to a shuddering halt.
Striker Shane Long believes it is just West Brom's fortune, and not their form that has dipped in that run.
"The only bad performance we really put in was the first half against Swansea," he told the club website. "Against Stoke it was just a horrible game and at Arsenal two dubious decisions that led to penalties cost us. We will learn from our mistakes but we're confident we can get back winning pretty soon.
"Maybe we took our foot off the gas a little bit and that midweek game at Swansea knocked us back a bit, but against Stoke and at Arsenal we felt we could win the game."
Despite the setbacks, Long insists the belief is still there among the West Brom (8-2-6) players, and all they need now is some luck to go their way.
"There aren't many times you go to a place like Arsenal feeling you can win, but we did," he said. "So we've still got that confidence in us and hopefully we will get that break, a little rub of the green, so we can go into the game against West Ham and maybe get that winning feeling back.
"We're still fairly comfortable in the league but we want to be looking at the teams above us and trying to hang onto them rather than looking down.
West Ham (6-4-6) are the only one of the newly promoted sides not currently in the bottom three but are in the midst of a tough run of fixtures that has seen them record only one win their last five League outings after last week's 3-2 home loss to Liverpool.
However, the Hammers have lost just once in their last nine trips to The Hawthorns, notching five wins and three draws in a run that dates back to May 1985, and full-back Joey O'Brien hopes they can prolong that sequence.
"Our aim now is to get back on track against West Bromwich Albion," he told the club website. "We want to take the points but it is a hard place to go and they have a good home record. Hopefully we can get a result but, as you saw against Liverpool, the top teams can produce little bits of magic and you are suddenly behind.
These two sides last met in the 2010-11 season and both matches ended in draws - 3-3 at The Hawthorns and 2-2 at Upton Park as Scott Parker and Frederic Piquionne netted for The Hammers while Peter Odemwingie and Pablo Ibanez scored for West Brom.
West Brom have doubts over Liam Ridgewell (ankle), Ben Foster (groin) and Claudio Yacoub (hamstring). West Ham have injury doubts over several players including Mo Diame, George McCartney, Yossi Benayoun and Ricardo Vaz Te. Loan striker Andy Carroll is also still missing through injury.
Updated December 13, 2012