Fixture pile-up alarms Allardyce
Published 13/03/2014 | 15:22
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is wary of a fixture pile-up as the Hammers look to remain clear of the battle for Barclays Premier League survival.
Allardyce saw his side win four games in succession before falling to a 1-0 defeat at Everton ahead of the recent international break.
That good run moved West Ham out of the bottom three and up into the top half of the table, although they are only six points clear of 18th-placed Cardiff.
Hull's FA Cup commitments meant their Premier League clash scheduled for last weekend has been moved, with the same fate befalling the Hammers' trip to Arsenal as Arsene Wenger's side face Wigan in their FA Cup semi-final.
And Allardyce is knows playing those rearranged games at a time when other clubs' players can rest up could impact upon his side.
"There's not a huge amount of difference between 10th and the bottom three so that can change very, very quickly," he said.
"Falling games behind is not what you want to do. To make those games up and points up, where others have played games if they've picked the points up is a difficult task.
"I think we're going to fall another game behind in a few weeks time when we were scheduled to play Arsenal who are now in the semi-finals of the cup.
"It's going to be a pretty tricky schedule to manage, so we have two weeks off and then we're going to have to play three games in a week when the opposition won't have had to do that.
"That becomes a difficulty then with the physical capabilities of the players. It's a pretty difficult situation to manage, more difficult than we would like, but we have to think carefully about how to manage it."
A trip to Stoke on Saturday will give West Ham the chance to get back to winning ways and build up a bigger gap over the other relegation candidates before the fixture congestion hits.
But Allardyce knows Mark Hughes' side pose a big threat - especially in front of their own fans at the Britannia Stadium.
"It's a real tough game for us because their home form has been very, very good, as it was under Tony Pulis," he said.
"I think they're fifth in the table in terms of home form, only losing two, so it shows you how tough the game is going to be for us.
"Everybody has to be at their best on Saturday. They've had a good rest, some time with their families then they've worked very hard this week to get ready for what they need to do on Saturday to get a good result at Stoke City."
Record signing Andy Carroll is likely to return to the starting line-up for the first time since being sent off in the 2-0 win over Swansea at the beginning of February, while Joey O'Brien and Marco Borriello are Allardyce's only injury absentees.