Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will return to the Premier League in Cardiff’s relegation clash against West Ham. The Manchester United favourite will take charge of his first home game, hoping to reside over a second win after his Bluebirds knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup last weekend. The game in Wales is crucial too; a win for West Ham would, subject to Crystal Palace not beating Tottenham, see the Hammers leapfrog Cardiff and out of the relegation zone.
While Solskjaer’s appointment signalled the end to the managerial saga in Cardiff, the drama is starting to boil up in east London. The Irons have, barring a miracle, crashed out of two competitions in four days, conceding eleven in the process. Manager Sam Allardyce has been publically backed by the club’s owners in light of the two humbling results, but fans are still unhappy at the lack of passion shown by the players. Allardyce’s route one tactics have a valid defence when they are grinding out results, but when the results fade the manager has little left in his favour.
A result for the Hammers at the weekend is vital then, and the London side will draw confidence from the stat that they have beaten Cardiff in each of their last five meetings. The Irons’ central defensive injury woes have been eased by the arrival of Roger Johnson on loan from Wolves, and the centre half will return to his former club, where he has won two player of the year awards. Cardiff meanwhile have a fresh face of their own, Solskjaer has brought in fellow Norwegian Magnus Eikren who is available for the game.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
West Ham 3 (Morrison, Jarvis, Vaz Te) Cardiff 2 (Noone, Odemwingie), Capital One Cup, September 2013
West Ham 2 (Cole, Nolan) Cardiff 0, Premier League, August 2013
West Ham 3 (Nolan, Vaz Te, Maynard) Cardiff 0, Championship playoff semi-final, May 2012
West Ham have won their last five games against the Welsh side.
The Hammers haven’t won in their last seven league games.
Both team’s leading goalscorers are on five; Ravel Morrison for the Londoners and Frazer Campbell for the Bluebirds.
The Irons have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five games against Cardiff, scoring 12 times.
Cardiff to win: 1.95
West Ham to win: 4.0
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm.