Dzeko to boost Cup record
David John thinks Edin Dzeko will boost his Capital One Cup scoring record on Wednesday against a reeling West Ham.
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In many ways, you can't argue with West Ham boss Sam Allardyce for resting a good number of his regulars for an early-round FA Cup trip to lower-division opposition.
But the strategy backfired horribly as his inexperienced side were tonked 5-0 by Nottingham Forest on Sunday, leaving one poor young Hammers fan in tears and a rather nasty taste in the mouth for all those involved on the pitch.
Allardyce will now welcome back those first-teamers fit for selection as they try to dig themselves out of a hole in the Premier League but first take on Manchester City in the opening leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final.
Mo Diame, Joe Cole, Carlton Cole and newly-arrived central defender Roger Johnson are all likely to play in what - on paper - looks like being some sort of damage-limitation exercise against the free-scoring Citizens with the visitors a massive 18/1 to take some sort of advantage back to Upton Park.
In a nutshell, I think that punting on this game falls into one of two categories.
Firstly, Allardyce is basically on borrowed time and Sunday's debacle is the begining of the end for him. The Hammers are on the brink whoever they put on the field and City will run riot.
Alternatively, that last result will have a galvanising effect with the more experienced players rallying to the cause and at least giving themselves a fighting chance of making Wembley in the second leg.
City were similarly expected to do a number on Crystal Palace in the league recently but only managed to edge past them 1-0 - the visitors arguably deserved a point - so perhaps all is not totally lost for the Hammers.
But on the flip side, the hosts' 57 goals in the Premier League alone (11 more than nearest rivals Liverpool) must be a daunting prospect for Allardyce's makeshift backline, bearing in mind as well they have conceded at least twice in five of their last seven away fixtures.
I was almost tempted to take West Ham on the handicap with a two-goal start at odds-against but just as much as they will be keen to dig in and produce a performance, City will feel they are playing a team currently there for the taking and could get the job virtually completed in 90 minutes.
So a safer play looks to be Edin Dzeko to pop up again with a goal at some stage.
He was the man to break Palace's hearts recently while he has four in total in the Capital One Cup and scored in every round so far.
For the season as a whole, it's 12 goals - not bad for a player whose chances in the starting XI have been limited.
Some firms have him in the above market at just 1/2 but there is some even money available which is well worth a second look against a Hammers' defence that looks unable to halt his record.
Verdict: Manchester City 3 West Ham 1
- The game is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.