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Good result at Cardiff crucial to West Ham and Big Sam

Successive thrashings at Nottingham Forest (5-0) in the FA Cup and Manchester City (6-0) in the Capital One Cup were bad enough. But even a narrow defeat on Saturday in a relegation six-pointer at Cardiff will in many ways be even worse. A good result is crucial.

Sam Allardyce is a best-priced 2/5 with Coral to be the next Premiership manager to lose his job with QPR boss Harry Redknapp favourite to take over ahead of Malky Mackay, Glenn Hoddle and fans’ favourite Paolo Di Canio,

And even the public support of co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan (reiterated after the City defeat) won’t be enough if drowned out by protests from the terraces and clamour for change.

And the noise will surely get much louder still if the Hammers get a third tonking inside a week in South Wales. Coral go 19/20 Cardiff, 3/1 West Ham and 23/10 the draw and Big Sam will be hoping that his players can somehow bounce back from those humiliating drubbings to come away with at least a point.

According to Coral, Cardiff, 13/8, and West Ham, 11/8 (8/15 to stay up), are direct rivals for the third relegation spot behind Crystal Palace, 4/7, and Sunderland, 8/13, and if this isn’t quite a ‘must-win’ game for the east Londoners it is at least a ‘must-not-lose.’ And unless they turn it around soon, there could be an even gloomier scenario – finishing bottom (6/1)

Allardyce could really do with a break and he might get one if star striker Andy Carroll returns at the weekend after his lengthy spell out with injury. Coral go 15/8 he gets on the scoresheet on his return (13/2 first or last), although it might be asking a bit much of the record signing to turn things around just like that.

And while Carroll’s return will be most welcome, you have to measure that up against the timing of this fixture, the first home game for Cardiff’s new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the likely lift that will give to players and fans so fed up with the Vincent Tan-Malky Mackay stand-off.

Solskjaer’s influence was seen immediately in the 2-1 FA Cup victory at Newcastle last weekend and although one swallow doesn’t make a summer, the Norwegian is widely expected to make a name for himself in the Premier League after his successful managerial stint in his home country.