BILLY BUNTER

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Nicknames are bad names - just ask Sam

WHAT is it with Sam Allardyce and nicknames.

The people who like the West Ham gaffer call him Big Sam, those who dislike him - I’m looking at you Hammers supporters - refer to him as Fat Sam and back in November 2012 he claimed he could never get a top-four job because he wasn’t called Allardici.

Big/Fat Sam insists that was tongue in cheek but this season Allardyce/Allardici namechecked the most successful club in English football as “long-ball Manchester United” and then last week he was at the name calling again with his “lucky Tottenham” jibe.

Sticks and stones may not break Allardyce’s big bones but he clearly hopes that names will hurt the opposition so I wonder what is in store for Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Actually, I think I know what is in store for Palace and it’s a defeat.

Maybe Big/Fat Sam was so angry after the United and Spurs matches because West Ham chucked away winning positions in the dying seconds, but apart from the shambles at West Brom in the FA Cup I reckon the Hammers are playing pretty well.

Talking of the Baggies, they could be worth a small bet to see off Southampton at the Hawthorns.

Most pundits have been waiting for the Saints bubble to burst since about September and so far it has left those doubters with egg all over their face.

The 8-0 win over Sunderland? Lucky. The win at Newcastle? It came with the help of a long ball and as Allardyce/Allardici suggests those kind of things just aren’t allowed.

However, now the bubble has burst (at least until they win again).

Southampton have won once in their last four league matches and that came really late on at QPR. It’s the only goal they’ve scored in the last four and the Baggies are on the up under Tony Pulis.




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Match in Focus

12:45 TODAY SS1

West Ham v C Palace

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Crystal Palace have scored all in all but one of Alan Pardew’s games as manager
Expert verdict
West Ham were denied a White Hart Lane win with the last kick of the game and Crystal Palace could ensure the Hammers endure another disappointing derby day. The Eagles are much more attack-minded under Alan Pardew and acquitted themselves well in defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool.