Hammers face Birmingham semi-final showdown

West Ham owners David Sullivan and David Gold face an emotional return to their former club in the Carling Cup semi-finals.

WEST HAM are just two games away from Wembley Stadium after crushing holders Manchester United to book their place in the semi-finals of the Carling Cup on Tuesday night.

And after the draw was made on Wednesday, it is Birmingham City who stand between the Hammers and a first trip to the home of English football in nearly 30 years.

Jonathan Spector, one of the heroes of Tuesday’s incredible 4-0 win, believes that the Hammers can go all the way in the competition.

“We’ve been training hard and working hard to improve and I think that has shown in our results,” said the American, who grabbed two goals playing in the centre of midfield against Manchester United.

“The win at the weekend really lifted us and I am sure that victory and this win will be a catalyst to kick-start our season.

“Any four teams in the semi-final can win it, so why can’t it be us?”

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Arsenal, who play Championship side Ipswich Town in the other semi-final, are odds-on favourites to lift the trophy, while West Ham are quoted as third favourites, behind opponents Birmingham City, at between 4/1 and 5/1.

The two-legged tie, with the first match at Upton Park, will be an emotional one for West Ham co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold who will return to the club they owned for over 16 years.

Gold was banned from St Andrews for the league match between the two teams last month because of an ongoing legal dispute with current Blues chairman Peter Pannu.

Since then, the West Ham co-owner has reiterated that Pannu is still welcome at Upton Park, but tensions between the two are still apparent.

The Hammers drew 2-2 at St Andrews in November, throwing away a two-goal lead after strikes by Freddie Piquionne and Valon Behrami. In fact, West Ham are unbeaten in their last eight matches against the Blues and so must go into the tie with confidence that they can go through.

West Ham last reached the final back in 1981 when they held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Wembley, before losing the replay 2-1 at Villa Park.

The first leg of this season’s semi-final will take place in the week beginning January 10, with the return at St Andrews two weeks later. Away goals will only count after extra time has been played.

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