Birmingham vs. West Ham: Carling Cup Preview
A 2-1 triumph for the struggling Hammers at Upton Park a fortnight gives them the advantage heading into the return fixture and avoiding defeat in the West Midlands will see Avram Grant’s men reach the final. It won’t be easy, Birmingham are usually tough to beat on home soil, but the hosts are short and I want to take them on at the prices.
At a little over even money to get the win they need to stand any chance of advancing, Birmingham are opposable having been thrashed 5-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League last time out and face a West Ham team in terrific cup form.
Grant, an FA Cup runner-up with Portsmouth in 2010, has guided his team to six consecutive knockout triumphs this term and clearly a break from top flight struggles is relished by those in claret and blue.
Still rooted to the foot of the table, West Ham were extremely unfortunate on Saturday not to have left Goodison Park with all three points, denied my a Marouane Fellaini injury-time strike, but they’ve saved their best for this competition and have plenty of big game players capable of rising to he occasion. >
With Frederic Piquionne suspended for his recent dismissal on Merseyside, the goal scoring onus once again falls upon Carlton Cole but the England striker has three Carling Cup goals to his name this term and West Ham maintain a solid looking spine.
With Scott Parker in midfield ahead of Matthew Upson, both protecting Robert Green between the sticks, Grant called call upon an inexperienced international core and they’ll certainly be up for the fight.
West Ham were decent winners at Fulham before the turn fo the year and also picked up a valuable point at Ewood Park before that 2-2 draw with David Moyes’ team and any early doubts about their ability to perform on the road have been dispelled somewhat of late.
Beaten just twice in their last nine fixtures, and with such a prize at stake, West Ham are the team to be with and they’ll fancy getting stuck into the hosts. Birmingham’s usually watertight defence has looked suspect of late, none more so than at Old Trafford, and one goal on their travels should be enough for the visitors to progress.
2pts Lay Birmingham (vs. West Ham) @ 2.12 (Betfair)
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