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West Ham: Struggling Blackburn are there for the taking

12:22 06 May 2011

Samba is a solid defender for Blackburn

Samba is a solid defender for Blackburn

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Rovers struggling since Allardyce departure

With only one win since January, Blackburn are in freefall and are there for the taking at Upton Park.

Manager Steve Kean has struggled to fill the void left by the sacking of former incumbent Sam Allardyce and his position has been called into question for some time.

Goals have been hard to come by far for the Lancastrians and with defender Ryan Nelson out for the season due to a knee injury it is no wonder they have won just once in 11 matches.

After trying various combinations all over the pitch, Kean has settled with a 4-4-2 formation and has adopted for power up front in Benjani and Jason Roberts.

James Tomkins and Manuel da Costa are likely to be the Hammers centre backs and must be up for a physical challenge, especially from Roberts, a typical English target man, who although has only found the net three times this season, is the focal point of most of their attacks.

Roque Santa Cruz is another option for Kean and he is also someone who plays naturally as a target man.

Brett Emerton is likely to provide ammunition for the front two from out wide and his whipped deliveries from the right could cause problems.

However his lack of pace means he is unlikely to outrun likely left back Danny Gabbidon, so the Welshman should try to get tight to his opposite number and stop his crosses.

On the other flank Martin Olsson is naturally a full back and is another powerful player. He is stronger and quicker than Lars Jacobsen, but is not known for his crossing.

In the middle, Phil Jones is their biggest talent, but is more of a holding midfielder leaving David Dunn as their creative player, who if left to his own devices has the passing ability to hurt the Hammers.

The Rovers full backs Gael Givet and Michel Salgado although experienced lack pace, but unless Victor Obinna starts this weakness is unlikely to be capitalised on by the hosts.

Christopher Samba, one of the division’s more consistent and physically imposing centre halves will be up against Carlton Cole. The former Chelsea striker has had the physical edge over most opponents this season, but Samba is immensely strong himself and with Cole’s presence so important for West Ham, it makes this contest one of the most important of the day.

Neither side approach the match in good form and are struggling at both ends of the pitch, but the superior overall quality of West Ham should see them register the first of the three wins they need to secure Premier League survival.

Prediction: West Ham 3 Blackburn 1

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