Previews: West Ham v Sunderland, Charlton v Derby, Blackburn v Millwall

By Rob Virtue on December 12, 2013 11:17 AM |

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West Ham v Sunderland
Kick off:
Saturday, 3pm
Tickets
Odds: West Ham: 20/19; Sunderland: 16/5; Draw: 12/5
History of meetings: West Ham won - 32; Sunderland won - 31; Draw - 21

A big week looms for West Ham with bottom of the league club Sunderland making a visit to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

The pressure is on Sam Allardyce's men to pick up maximum points from that clash to lift them away from the relegation zone.

And the following Wednesday, the Hammers travel to White Hart Lane for the League Cup quarter final against Tottenham Hotspur.

But it's Gus Poyet's Sunderland who the Hammers are focused on and Allardyce will have to decide whether to shuffle the pack to make sure of a win in the crucial clash.

The east Londoners were given the worrying news Stewart Downing would be out for up to 10 weeks following a tackle against Liverpool which left him with a deep gash in his leg.

Kevin Nolan is suspended following last week's sending off in the 4-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Carlton Cole will be hoping to start after he failed to feature at Anfield.

And calming words came this week from Hammers legend Billy Bonds, who said he was supporting Allardyce.

"His brief was to get the club out of the Championship into the Premier League and then to cement that in place," said Bonds.

"We're not in a desperate position because if you're four or five points adrift then you start to worry but we're not in that position - we're one win away from being mid-table - it's that tight."

Charlton v Derby
Kick off:
Saturday, 3pm
Tickets
Odds: Charlton: 23/10; Yeovil 13/10; Draw 5/2
History of meetings: Charlton won - 28; Derby won - 31; Draw - 19

Charlton face the Championship's form side on Saturday when Derby County come to town.

The free-scoring team have won their last five games under recently appointed boss Steve McLaren - scoring 14 goals in the process.

But Charlton are currently one place above the relegation zone and need points to drag themselves up the table as they enter the busy Christmas period.

So they will have to brush themselves down from their disappointment at Yeovil last week, which saw them lose a two goal lead to end with a 2-2 draw.

Good news for the south-east Londoners is two-time player of the year Chris Solly is back.

He was a late substitute in Somerset and will now be pushing Lawrie Wilson for that right-back spot.

Captain Johnnie Jackson will miss out on Saturday as he begins the first of a three-match ban for his sending-off last week.

That could see returns for Bradley Pritchard and Callum Harriott, who have been frozen out in recent weeks.

Ben Hamer is training but not fit enough to play against Derby.

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Blackburn v Millwall
Kick off:
Saturday, 3pm
Tickets
Odds: Millwall: 18/5; Blackburn 10/11; Draw 13/5
History of meetings: Millwall won - 10; Blackburn won - 18; Draw - 8

Victory over Wigan last week gave Millwall a much needed boost.

Now they just need to pick up some points on their travels, where they haven't won since beating Charlton in September at The Valley.

Nicky Bailey is still injured for the Lions, but may return to action next week.

DJ Campbell, arrested this week over spot-fixing allegations, will not feature for Blackburn.

Meanwhile, Millwall manager Steve Lomas has said he hopes to sign loan man Martyn Waghorn on a permanent deal from Leicester City.

He's likely to retain his place in the side against Blackburn despite his Jermaine Easter coming off the bench to fire home was eventually the winner.

However, Lomas could opt for just one man up front, which would probably be Steve Morison, who has scored in his last two games.

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