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Nolan-less West Ham can edge a low-scoring win over Sunderland

Kevin Nolan may have scored five goals in his last four Premier League appearances against Sunderland, but his absence may actually be a positive to West Ham’s chances of securing a home victory over the Black Cats.

Considering they are hosting the team that are sitting bottom of the Premier League and have only managed two points on the road all season, West Ham’s odds of 1/1 to beat Sunderland look more than enticing.

Nolan has been far from the apple of the eye of many Hammers fans in recent games, with some noticeable cheers in those outings in which he has been substituted. For a player largely picked because of his goal input, a barren streak dating back to the opening day of the season is frustrating.

What his suspension does mean is that Sam Allardyce will be able to line up with Mark Noble, Mohamed Diame and Ravel Morrison in their best positions, which should result in some greater dribbling threat from midfield.

Morrison will be given greater licence to push on as a result and is an interesting proposition at 7/1 to break the deadlock against Sunderland.

It may be better backing Morrison to score first, instead of any time in the 90 minutes, for the simple reason that it is hard to see many goals in this.

Sunderland have managed only two on the road all season and haven’t scored in any of their last five away from the Stadium of Light, while no team have failed to score in more top-flight games than West Ham this season.

Therefore, it would be no surprise if the 8/11 for under 2.5 goals in the match is the most popular bet at Upton Park.

For those fancying Sunderland to build on their improved performances under the stewardship of Gus Poyet of late, the away win is priced at 14/5 and the draw at 23/10.