Both of these sides have started to steadily improve in their respective leagues and after once being labelled as relegation candidates, both seem to be heading towards the mid-table areas. While many will see this as a relatively easy game for West Ham, Barnsley will have other ideas and after dumping Liverpool and Chelsea out of this competition last season they have every right to!
West Ham’s season has been inconsistent so say the least although Hammers fans will be very happy with how the last few weeks have been going. Despite all of the speculation regarding their unstable financial position and players set to be sold behind Gianfranco Zola’s back, the team have plodded on and now find themselves sat in 10th position. Recent results have included victories over Stoke and Portsmouth as well as an impressive draw away at Chelsea, meaning that the Hammers have a five point cushion from the relegation zone. While some people may see this as a fairly meaningless Cup game against lower opposition, the club’s own supporters will read more into it and will be looking to see whether or not any of the big name players are left out so they are not cup tied for their potential new teams.
As for Barnsley, Simon Davey’s good work with the Yorkshire club saw his name linked with the Nottingham Forest post earlier this week. As it turns out he wasn’t approached, although there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s working wonders with a club who have a limited budget. One of the main reasons he is so highly thought of is after the memorable run in this competition last year which saw the Tykes reach Wembley in the semi-finals. After knocking out Liverpool and Chelsea in previous rounds many thought they had a chance of actually winning the event, although it wasn’t to be and Cardiff ended their incredible run. Davey said after that match that he would do everything he could to take them on another journey like that and with West Ham not being the most consistent side in the country; they have another good opportunity to capture the headlines.
As for team news, the squad that West Ham put out could depend on whether or not they receive any early offers for their prized assets. However, Gianfranco Zola is hopeful of including Kieron Dyer who hasn’t featured for seventeen months after breaking his leg. Elsewhere, Scott Parker will miss out through suspension although Craig Bellamy is hopeful of a start after completing his one match ban. As for the visitors, they’ll be missing in form striker Jamie Cureton through the terms of his loan agreement from Norwich. Rob Kozluk, Iain Hume and Martin Devaney are other absentees, but other than that Simon Davey has a full squad to pick from.
Barnsley will put up a good fight here yet after their exploits last season, West Ham will know that they have to plough everything into this fixture to make sure they progress. With that we see nothing but a professional Hammers display that will result in a 2-0 victory.