Thursday, March 23, 2023

3 Key Battles That Will Decide The Outcome When West Ham Host Middlesbrough

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

West Ham United will host Middlesbrough in a clash which the Hammers will desperately want to win. Having set, in hindsight, unrealistic ambitions at the start of the season, the Hammers are having to pay the price for hasty decisions and bad luck as they find themselves in the relegation zone. Despite boasting of players like Payet and Antonio, who are up there with the numbers of goals scored and assists notched, the Hammer’s lack of a leader at the back and in midfield has cost them dear till now.

They will be facing Middlesbrough, whose main objective will be to secure survival this season, after making a return to the Premier League after a wait of 7 years. They have stumbled in recent weeks after a positive start and the game at the London Stadium will be important to them in equal measure.

We look at 3 key battles which might decide the outcome of the game.


Dimitri Payet has been his usual creative self but has lacked any support up top whatsoever. Along with Antonio, the duo has waged a lonely battle up front. They have managed the goals but they haven’t been enough to salvage points for them. The lack of a finisher has hurt them again, although the problems have spread to other sections of the team now. Payet will be up against Barragan who will have to be on his toes to keep the enigmatic Frenchman quiet. It will be an interesting battle between the two and if Payet is kept quiet, the prospects will be bleak for the Hammers.


Negredo started the season with a bang, netting within 10 minutes of his much publicised return to the Premier League. He followed it up with a couple of assists in the Tees-Wear derby but has failed to build on the initial momentum.

alvaro negredo getty

His physical approach along with his link up with Ramirez will be a test for Reid. The defender has lacked support and will again shoulder the responsibility of securing the backline. The pair will be at each other and stopping Negredo will go a long way in stopping Boro.


Antonio has been the salvaging factor for the Hammers till now and has scored 5 goals in 6 games till now. He has been impossible to deal with in the air and has often left the fullback in his wake, ghosting in to head balls into the back of the net. Friend will have a difficult and potentially unfriendly job on his hand and will have to put in a mighty impressive shift to keep the free-scoring Antonio quiet.

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