David Jones
Football Presenter

David Jones previews West Ham-West Brom and Cardiff-Sunderland

Allardyce: his Hammers face a crunch clash with West Brom

Boxing Day provided brilliant drama in the Barclays Premier League, and the Christmas programme keeps on giving as we focus on a thrilling fight for survival in our two live games on Saturday.

First, the two sides propping up the form table - West Ham and West Brom - meet at lunchtime at Upton Park.

The Hammers have had a dreadful campaign so far punctuated by the odd moment of excitement, such as the 3-0 triumph at Spurs which seems something of a red herring with hindsight.

They've lost four of their last five games, though could have snatched more from Arsenal with a bit more bite in front of goal - it's the story that has haunted them all season.

Sam Allardyce knows he's under pressure, and the last time the vultures were circling the Boleyn the Hammers went on to beat Fulham 3-0.

Perhaps, though, they will find West Brom a more difficult proposition.

The Baggies were able to frustrate Spurs on Boxing Day and that's two draws under Keith Downing since he stepped in for Steve Clarke.

And while Albion's manager search looks like continuing into the New Year, Downing will hope their eight-game wait for a win comes to a swift conclusion in East London.


Of those sides who have spent 2013 in the Premier League only Sunderland have picked up fewer points than West Brom: their visit to struggling Cardiff is our second port of call this Saturday.

It looks a fascinating match with uncertainty swirling around the Welsh capital behind the scenes and form deserting the Bluebirds on the pitch.

As I write Malky Mackay remains the Cardiff manager but his combustible owner Vincent Tan cannot have been impressed with the way they were beaten by Southampton, a game in which they failed to muster a single shot on target.

Three of Cardiff's four wins have come at home and even in this their fledgling Premier League campaign, their fans will expect more against the bottom club, particularly with visits to the Emirates, the Etihad, and Old Trafford to look forward to in January!

Victory at fortress Goodison was the last thing Sunderland fans expected of their team after a limp draw with Norwich before Christmas.

But they defended diligently after a moment of rare fortune and clung on to a priceless Christmas gift.

They've now kept three consecutive clean sheets and that will be their starting point at Cardiff; scoring a fourth away goal of the season might prove more of a challenge.

A low-scoring affair seems most likely but you never know in this crazy season. After all, the bottom three all won on Boxing Day and who would have predicted that?

Certainly not the bookies, that treble was a 150-1 shot!