This is the second time in three years that these two clubs meet at this stage of the FA Cup, with the fixture in 2009 bringing a comfortable 3-0 victory for West Ham. However, Avram Grant certainly doesn’t have fond memories of Saturday’s opponents after the Tykes knocked his Chelsea side out of the competition in 2008. With Grant under pressure heading into this one, Barnsley may even have a chance of netting something here.
There has been plenty of speculation over the past week over the future of various managers in the Premier League and unfortunately for Avram Grant, he is one of them. The West Ham boss has struggled to make an impact having joined the club in the summer and with the Hammers now at the foot of the table, it remains to be seen how long Grant has left to turn things around. Admittedly, they have improved in recent weeks and did manage to put together a four game unbeaten run. However, that was abruptly ended against Newcastle in their last outing and should they be knocked out of the cup at such an early stage, Grant’s time may be up.
Barnsley meanwhile are full of confidence and while their position of 16th may sound lowly, they actually find themselves closer to the top six than they do to the relegation zone. Their form of late has been very good and after just losing twice in their last nine, they have turned around a season that at one point seemed to have relegation dogfight stamped all over it. They head into this game on the back of a 2-1 victory over Coventry and following their incredible cup run a few years ago, their supporters will certainly be hoping that Mark Robins takes the competition seriously. Their fans will also be keeping a close eye on the team sheet and should Adam Hammill be omitted, it might well be to prevent him from being cup tied and facilitate a transfer window move.
West Ham are expected to make changes for this encounter and Avram Grant will probably hand starts to some fringe players. After recovering from injury, Mark Noble is expected to start while Jordan Spence and Zavon Hines are also pushing for places. Barnsley meanwhile have no concerns and Mark Robins is tipped to keep changes to a minimum. There were initial worries over Matt Hill, but the full back will keep his place after parent club Wolves gave permission for him to feature in the competition.
The form and positions of these two sides suggest that an upset could be possible here, although we’re still going to go for the home win. West Ham have a decent record over Barnsley over the years and with that, we’ll predict a comfortable 2-0 victory for the Hammers.