Who will triumph at Upton Park?
Watch West Ham v Birmingham live streaming with GetSport.tv
Bet on the Carling Cup with Sportingbet.com and get a free bet worth up to £50
Avram Grant should probably be given another ultimatum.
The last time he was reportedly told to gain three points overall from clashes with Blackburn, Fulham and Everton to save his job, he managed five.
“Avram, unless you win the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, you’re fired.”
In fairness, this game is very difficult to call.
What’s more, I’m in losing form. After winning money in every one of my betting articles to date, I failed to do so for the first time when Arsenal v Manchester City played out a 0-0 draw.
Time to up my game.
I’m Leroy Paine.
There are reasonable grounds to suggest that this game could again be 0-0.
Firstly, this is probably the first match in history that Can’t Control – I mean Carlton Cole – is the shortest odds for either first or anytime goalscorer. He is 11/2 and 8/5 for those respectively with Sportingbet.com.
I wouldn’t put my money there – despite his two goals in the last round of the competition against Manchester United.
Each team also only averages one goal per game in the Premier League, and each has failed to score in seven.
If Birmingham’s defence is back to its meanest, and their strikers continue to forget what their job is, odds of 9/1 with Sportingbet.com for 0-0 look excellent.
If that were the case, one would certainly back Birmingham to do the job in the second leg, but let’s wait until this match is over first, shall we?
Birmingham have only won one Premier League away game so far, but it happened to be in their last match against Blackpool, while West Ham were completely annihilated by Newcastle.
5-0 didn’t flatter West Ham at all, and their confidence could be low.
I like the odds of Nikola Zigic to be an anytime goalscorer at 11/5 with Sportingbet.com. The giant Serbian may not play from the start, but is likely to come on at some stage and will certainly be used as an outlet for Birmingham.
With each team so close to the trophy now that they can taste it – not that metal is particularly delicious – their respective managers are likely to play their strongest possible XI.
For West Ham that means Scott Parker could well come in, and having got the Hammers out of a hole so many times this season – including game saving strikes against Oxford United and Stoke City in this very competition – backing him as an anytime goalscorer at 5/1 with Sportingbet.com looks a decent bet indeed.
Will Leroy Paine return to winning ways? Will he stop talking in the third person?
I think we can all agree that would be for the best.
Fancy a flutter? Join Sportingbet and get a free bet worth up to £50! There are countless markets to bet on including which team will win, the first goalscorer, the correct score or even the time of the last goal. You can also try your hand at an accumulator and try to win big from a small stake. So visit Sportingbet.com and register now to put your money where your mouth is.