West Ham visit Cardiff City today in an early-season relegation six-pointer (10 am ET; watch live online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
The visitors are just one point above bottom-placed Sunderland and haven’t won a league match since November 30, when they beat Fulham 3-0. More worryingly, the Irons not only fell 6-0 to Manchester City in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals, but lost 5-0 to Championship side Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last weekend. Sam Allardyce’s job is hanging by a thread, but a result at Cardiff should provide a lifeline.
The Bluebirds are just one point above the drop, but they just might see a boost thanks to the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager. The former Manchester United man has already pulled off a win over Newcastle, putting Cardiff into the next round of the FA Cup. Three points here and the home fans will likely fall in love.
The big news for the visitors is, of course, the return of Andy Carroll, although the striker is consigned to the substitutes’ bench. James Tompkins returns in defense, Stewart Downing in attack and Carlton Cole up front.
Cardiff have equally exciting news, with Craig Bellamy fit enough to earn a place on the bench after two months out with injury. Peter Odemwingie is back in attack, and Frazier Campbell, who came on as a substitute against Newcastle to net the winner in the Bluebirds’ FA Cup match, also earns another start.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine, Hudson, Caulker, John, Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Noone, Campbell, Odemwingie
Subs: Lewis; Turner, Cornelius, Eikrem, Gunnarsson, McNaughton, Bellamy
West Ham: Adrian, Tomkins, Jarvis, Rat, Collison, Taylor, Noble, Demel, Downing, C Cole, Johnson
Subs: McCartney, Carroll, Maiga, Diarra, Diame, Jaaskelainen, J Cole