Hammers battling the big men again

West Ham travel to Birmingham on Saturday desperate to grab the three points.

When you consider the damage the likes of Kevin Davies, Johann Elmander and Kenwyne Jones have done to West Ham’s defence this season, that is not a claim that bears close scrutiny.

The Hammers rearguard will face another tough test from one or even two big strikers at St Andrews on Saturday, and it is a battle that they simply must win.

Serbian giant Nikola Zigic looks more like he should be on a basketball court, but the six foot six inch striker will be a handful for the Hammers.

He has three goals to his name this season and must be the one to watch.

If Birmingham boss Alex McLeish is feeling adventurous, then he may well pair Zigic with Cameron Jerome and with the prospect of Matty Upson missing the game through injury, it could be a very tough afternoon.

Goals are the biggest problem for Birmingham so far. Craig Gardner is their top scorer with just four, while in total they have only mustered 10 goals in as many league games.

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They sit in 15th place in the Premier League table with 11 points, six more than bottom-of-the-table West Ham.

Their home form has not been too bad with two wins and only one defeat from five games. They have overcome Blackpool and Blackburn at St Andrews with only Everton leaving with the points.

On Sunday they were held 0-0 by local rivals Aston Villa, while last Tuesday they were extremely fortunate to come through in the Carling Cup against League One Brentford, via a penalty shoot-out.

Last season, Birmingham took all three points with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from former Hammer Lee Bowyer.

Mark Noble was sent off that day and will not have the chance to make up for that after being ruled out of Saturday’s clash after surgery.

West Ham’s last victory at St Andrews came in 2007 when it was Noble’s penalty that proved the difference between the two.

That day, the Hammers strike partnership was Bobby Zamora and Craig Bellamy, perhaps a more appealing combination than Freddie Piquionne and Victor Obinna.

Saturday will be far from easy. Birmingham are a well-organised, defensively strong outfit and if Grant remains unadventurous, it is likely to be a draw.

Possible team: Foster, Ridgwell, Carr, Dann, Johnson, Fahey, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Zigic, Jerome.


Birmingham 1 West Ham 1