Paul Merson explains his confident prediction for West Ham v Sunderland

Paul Merson believes West Ham will beat Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Pundit Paul Merson has told Sky Sports that he thinks West Ham United will beat Sunderland 3-1 at Upton Park this weekend.

West Ham head into the game having thrashed Blackburn Rovers 5-1 in the FA Cup last weekend, with Dimitri Payet and Emmanuel Emenike both grabbing two goals each.

Slaven Bilic's men have been impressing in the Premier League this season, as only the top three clubs - Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal - have lost fewer games than the Hammers this term.

With aspirations of European qualification, the Hammers will be hoping to pick up another crucial victory this weekend as they take on Sam Allardyce's Sunderland at Upton Park.

Allardyce, 61, spent four years as West Ham manager before being replaced by Bilic last summer, and is now attempting to keep Sunderland in the Premier League, as they sit one point adrift of safety.

The lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League should be a fascinating encounter given that both sides need the points for very different reasons, but Paul Merson has a confident prediction about the outcome of the game.

Merson is convinced that Allardyce's return to Upton Park won't be a happy one, and told Sky Sports that he ultimately thinks West Ham will win the game 3-1.

"It will be a tough return to Upton Park for Sam Allardyce," said Merson. "Sunderland have dug in in recent weeks and got some very good results but West Ham are a very good side. Dimitri Payet is in outstanding form and firing on all cylinders for Slaven Bilic's side. I think Sunderland will struggle to cope with him so I'm backing him to score the first goal and West Ham to win 3-1."

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