Birmingham and West Ham have the chance to forget their Barclays Premier League woes – both sides are currently treading a relegation tight-rope – in this evening’s Carling Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg at St Andrew’s, Birmingham.
The tie is finely poised, with West Ham carrying a slender advantage from their home opening leg a fortnight ago, but Birmingham did work themselves an away goal in losing 2-1 that day in London.
Birmingham will be without David Bentley, who is cup-tied as a result of having appeared for Spurs in a previous round. They are able to select in-form striker Cameron Jerome, though, as the player has recovered from a hamstring injury.
West Ham will be without Victor Obinna, who is suspended as a result of the red card he picked up in the opening leg of this semi-final; and Frederic Piquionne who was dismissed during the club’s 2-2 draw at Everton on the weekend.
League position may not be a key indicator in this match: only two points currently separate Birmingham and West Ham in the Barclays Premier League.
While West Ham have won the majority of their recent fixtures against Birmingham, tonight may well come down to who gets the best end product. With Frederic Piquionne missing, that places a burden on Carlton Cole to produce against a Birmingham defence which has been shipping goals of late.
The ingredients are there for a classic cup tie: expect entertaining football, particularly if there is an early goal from West Ham, as Birmingham will have to immediately look to overcome a two goal deficit.
Tonight’s Carling Cup Semi-Final second leg kicks off at 19:45 GMT.