Saturday, August 17, 2019

Prediction: West Ham vs Birmingham

Tom Dunstan in FA Cup, Free Soccer Predictions 5 Jan 2019

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to book their spot in the fourth-round of this year’s FA Cup, West Ham will welcome Championship outfit Birmingham City to the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

West Ham

Starting with the hosts, after battling back from falling two goals behind against Brighton on Wednesday, the Hammers managed to pick up a point at the London Stadium now find themselves in the top half of the Premier League table. While Manuel Pellegrini’s side have managed to record just a single victory in their last four outings, West Ham have certainly shown improvements in the final third. Now scoring two or more goals in six of their last eight appearances, the former Manchester City boss will be glad to see that Austrian international Marko Arnautovic has hit the ground running after his return from injury. In a side riddled with first team injuries, Pellegrini will likely be forced to play a strong starting XI and he will be looking for their attacking talisman to lead the line. Bagging a brace against Brighton in midweek, the 29-year-old now has seven goals to his name this season. Although the East London side are a threat in the final third, there are still a handful of defensive issues that need resolving. Heavily criticized for their part in the Seagulls’ two set-piece goals on Wednesday, West Ham have now failed to record a clean sheet since an 8-0 win over Macclesfield back in September.

Team News

Former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri could make his first start for West Ham after signing for them earlier this week.

Striker Andy Carroll has recovered from a cut he received above his eye against Brighton on Wednesday and could play.

Birmingham

As for the visitors, while Birmingham may have spent a large spell of last season battling it out at the foot of the Championship table, it has been quite the turnaround for Gary Monk’s side. Under the guidance of the former Swansea boss, the Blues are coming off the back of a 1-1 draw with Birmingham last week, a result that extended their unbeaten run to five games. Now climbing up to eighth in the Championship table, Monk’s side have their sights firmly set on securing a surprise playoff position this time around. One man who is really starting to catch the eye at St. Andrews’ is 22-year-old forward Che Adams. Once again finding the net against Wednesday in midweek, the former Sheffield United youngster has now bagged seven goals in his last 10 appearances for City. If there is one area in particular that will be impressing fans in the Blue half of the Midlands, it will certainly be their defensive stability. Birmingham’s 28 goals conceded this season is the second best-attacking record in the Championship.

Team News

Birmingham boss Garry Monk plans to name a strong side against Premier League opposition.

Danish defender Kristian Pedersen (ankle) is rated only 50/50 and forward Omar Bogle (calf) is also a doubt.

Key Factors to Consider

  • West Ham have won two of their three FA Cup meetings with Birmingham, though they did lose the most recent match in February 1984.
  • This will be Birmingham’s first visit to London Stadium – they’re unbeaten in their past four meetings with West Ham in all competitions, last facing them in the 2011-12 Championship campaign.
  • Birmingham have not beaten Premier League opposition in the FA Cup since January 2012 (1-0 v Wolves), drawing two and losing five since then.
  • West Ham have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight matches across all competitions.
  • Marko Arnautovic scored two goals in his last outing against Brighton on Wednesday night.

Conclusion

Although Birmingham will travel to London as a clear underdog, Garry Monk’s side should see this as a chance to cause a real upset. With West Ham now failing to record a clean sheet in their last eight matches at the London Stadium, we’re backing both teams to score on Saturday afternoon.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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