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Leeds boss Allardyce hopes Hammers’ eyes are on European final

Sam Allardyce hopes West Ham, having reached the Europa Conference League final, will play safe when they face his relegation-threatened Leeds side on Sunday.

The 68-year-old veteran manager, brought in as a last-ditch effort for Leeds to avoid the drop due to reputation for keeping sides up, desperately needs three points this weekend.

Victory over West Ham, who in contrast to their European campaign have struggled in the Premier League this season, would keep Leeds’s hopes alive of saving their Premier League status for a second successive season on the final day.

Leeds are third from bottom and involved in a four team dogfight battling to avoid being one of the two teams to join already relegated Southampton in the Championship next term.

Allardyce’s side are a point adrift of Everton and three shy of Nottingham Forest with two matches remaining.

Leicester are second from bottom, four points off safety.

Leeds face a Hammers side – one of innumerable clubs Allardyce has managed in the past – who are on a high after beating Dutch side AZ Alkmaar on Thursday to reach their first major final since 1976.

Allardyce was in no doubt when asked at his pre-match press conference on Friday what result had suited him the most.

“Winning, there’s no doubt,” said Allardyce. 

“Now they’ve got a final to think about. They’ll go out and play and try their best but, subconsciously, they won’t want to get injured.

“One would have a worry about missing a final, so they may be a little more tentative, who knows?”

Allardyce has tightened up Leeds’s porous defence in the two matches he has been in charge – a narrow 2-1 loss to Manchester City and then a 2-2 draw with high-flying Newcastle United. 

The 23 goals Leeds conceded during April – which effectively cost Allardyce’s predecessor Javi Gracia his job – is a Premier League record for a single month. 

However, Allardyce was unsure how he would go about setting up his defence against the Hammers as Moyes could pick a very different team to the one that played on Thursday.

“We can normally guess the team that is going to be picked but it is very difficult to look at this one,” he said.

“(David Moyes) made nine changes when they played Brentford last week, and of course our preparation is to try to predict a team, work out how West Ham play and do a little bit of practice against that, both offensively and defensively.”

Allardyce said he was happy for Moyes, who has enjoyed happier times with West Ham after his disastrous spell as Alex Ferguson’s successor at Manchester United. 

“I’m pleased for him (reaching a European final), I’ve known him many years,” said Allardyce.

“Hopefully when we are having a drink afterwards, it is us who have the three points, not him.”

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