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Sturridge link means Cole must keep West Ham place over Carroll

| 17.01.2014

After missing the entire season to date, it is somewhat ironic that Andy Carroll is in line to make his first start of the campaign for West Ham against former club Newcastle.

Carroll is 5/4 to score at any time against Newcastle and with many touting his return from eight months out injured as the saviour to helping West Ham burst clear of the relegation places, the urge will be to thrust him straight into the starting line-up immediately.

However, given that Carroll has never netted against his former employees in his five appearances against Newcastle, Sam Allardyce may be best served keeping Carroll reduced to substitute roles for the coming weeks.

Another reason to do this is due to the form of Carlton Cole, who has netted four goals in a little over 400 minutes of action since being re-employed by West Ham.

This average of a goal in every 101 minutes of action is exactly identical to the strike rate of Daniel Sturridge this season and better than the likes of Robin van Persie, Alvaro Negredo and Loic Remy.

In fact, of all of the players to have managed at least 400 minutes of Premier League action this season, only Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero are more prolific than Cole.

Cole is also 5/4 to net in the 90 minutes, but accepting the 5/1 in the Premier League betting that he opens the scoring may prove a more lucrative strategy.

After all, Newcastle are on a four-game losing run in all competitions and they haven’t registered a single goal across their last three in the top-flight.

This fixture has hardly bled goals in recent seasons either, with the last two meetings ending 0-0 and the one before that settled in West Ham’s favour by a single Kevin Nolan strike.

With West Ham also averaging only 1.2 goals in their home games this season, any bets on under 2.5 goals in the match are hard to argue against at 10/11.

In terms of match betting, given Newcastle’s current blip and difficulties scoring goals, it is slightly strange to see them as clear favourites here at 11/8.

West Ham’s odds for victory offer the far greater value at 2/1 and their latest victory at Cardiff may represent the turning of a corner towards a run of improved results.

With Newcastle failing to share the points in any of their away games all season, the draw can be discounted at 23/10.