There’s something so typically West Ham about the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City.
The 6-0 loss in the first leg was a a record matching score line for a League Cup semi-final. The other one? When Oldham thrashed us by the same scoreline in 1990 on the infamous plastic pitch.
Only West Ham would have the dishonour of being on the end of both of the League Cup’s largest semi-final victories. Only us.
We won the second leg against Oldham 3-0, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to be the case this time around against a Manchester City side hell bent on ripping apart every team that gets in their way of their aims of winning the quadruple.
Sam Allardyce admits he will be fielding an ‘experienced’ side tonight, with just Ravel Morrison the only player lacking in experience at this level, but will that really make much of a difference against a side as ruthless as City?
I can’t see it, to be honest, but we can at least look at the positives surrounding this fixture rather than dwelling on the negatives.
We can welcome back James Tomkins after his one game suspension, which means Allardyce might finally be able to play him alongside James Collins, meaning Rogers Johnson will be relegated to the bench, where he should remain until his loan spell expires at the end of the campaign.
Another positive, if you can see it that way, is the return of Kevin Nolan. Mark Noble has been heroically stepped in to Nolan’s captaincy for the last four games and appears to have improved as a player while doing so, but Nolan’s experience could be vital to us between now and the end of the season, especially with Andy Carroll back in contention after eight months out.
And talking of Andy Carroll – he should be handed a start tonight, which can only be good for his fitness and progress. Many will feel he shouldn’t be risked in a meaningless fixture such as this one, but the truth is that the more minutes he gets, the quicker he can make a bigger impact in the more important games. Allardyce should start him tonight, give him an hour and then stick on Carlton Cole or Modibo Maiga for the final half-hour, regardless of how many goals we’re losing by.
What ever happens tonight, though, it’s the Premier League that all our attentions must be fixed on. If we can get through tonight with our pride still intact and without any new injury concerns, then the next few games could see us finally picking up some points and moving up the table.
Let’s use this game as positive one and use it as a stepping stone for the rest of the season.
Verdict: Keep the score low and play for pride. That’s all we can do.
West Ham United
Sam Allardyce will be pleased to have captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Tomkins back for selection following their respective four and one game suspensions.
Andy Carroll could be handed his first start of the season, while Ravel Morrison is also expected to feature.
Ricardo Vaz Te featured for the Development Squad on Monday night and could make a comeback after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
City are expected to rest most of their first team regulars with the game all but wrapped up at 6-0.
Stevan Jovetic and Jack Rodwell are expected to feature following long periods on the sidelines through injury.
Sam Allardyce, West Ham United manager…
“We know it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to get through but you’re playing at home, you’re playing for pride, you’re playing to try and get a result and your team’s trying to play well.
“I have a couple of players back from suspension, which is important to me. They’ll have a competitive game after being suspended, which eases the problems we’ve had recently.
“Hopefully we can give Manchester City a really tough game Tuesday night and try to get something out of it.”
Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City right-back…
“It doesn’t matter about the first leg. We have to go into every game thinking it’s a new game, even though we have six goals.
“West Ham are in a tough moment, they are at home and will want to win it. So we need to take it seriously and we will.
“We need to try and win it, like we are doing in other games at the moment. We are winning games and trying hard.”
Last 10 Meetings:
Match in Numbers:
34 – West Ham have scored in 34 of their last 35 League Cup games at Upton Park.
16 – Manchester City have scored 16 goals in four League Cup games this season.
6 – Edin Dzeko has netted six of those goals for City.
21 – Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero have both scored 21 goals this season, which is one short of West Ham total Premier League haul this season.
6 – City’s 6-0 first-leg win was the joint biggest win in League Cup semi-final history. The other came in 1990 when Oldham also beat West Ham 6-0.
@WestHamWorld Will field a strong side to win pride …. Get spanked by their kids, pick up 2 critical injuries and power cut in the pub !
— Steve Davis (@RUsureIsaidthat) January 21, 2014
@WestHamWorld 1-4 man city
— dave girdham (@mx78Dave) January 21, 2014
@WestHamWorld shock 7-0 win and we go through after the players revolt and lock Sam on the coach
— Mr Trinidad Scorpion (@hammerjay788) January 21, 2014
@WestHamWorld We’ll go 6-0 up and in the last minute City will score and go through…typical West Ham.
— Kwame Boakye (@KwamsMoriarty) January 21, 2014
Head-to-Head (all competitions)
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