No obvious route in the Capital
Ian Ogg keeps his powder dry concerning Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash between West Ham and Manchester City.
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West Ham United v Manchester City (1945 GMT)
There isn't a great deal to play for with the Citizens having already booked their place in the final courtesy of their first leg 6-0 hammering of the Hammers. City cut through the West Ham defence at will and poor old Roger Johnson, who is still contracted to League One Wolves, looked like a rabbit in the headlights against some of the Premier League's best players with the leap up from the Championship, where he'd been playing for Wednesday, a step too far.
Allardyce is a realistic, pragmatic manager and he's a strong enough character to resist chasing a lost cause no matter the 'constructive advice' that he may or may not receive from the Boleyn faithful. It would be no surprise, therefore, were he to rest several of his key players despite not having a game on the Saturday while Manuel Pellegrini, too, is sure to make wholesale changes.
The Chilean has more depth and quality to his squad and any side that he puts out should prove more than capable of dispatching West Ham but can he motivate the side to get the job done?
No matter what the manager says, you often see sides take their foot off the pedal once they've built up an unassailable advantage and forming any hard and fast views on this game until the team sheets are in is no easy task while the first 10 minutes should tell punters a little more.
It should be a relatively easy week for City with Watford visiting the Etihad on Saturday and it would appear to be an ideal opportunity to give Stevan Jovetic a run out if the young striker is over his injury problems. Both of his starts have come in this competition and he did net twice against Wigan but his last start was in October and he's entitled to be ring-rusty.
At a longer price, Marco Lopes is of some interest to score the first goal at 8/1 each-way with Paddy Power although he can be backed at 17/2 with BetVictor, win only.
The young Portuguese came off the bench in the first leg of this semi-final and had his only start of the season in the game against Wigan. He impressed with his cameo at the Etihad and isn't shy of having a dig at goal.
He has scored four goals in seven starts for his national under-19 side and has scored five goals for City in the U19 Uefa Youth League with a hat-trick against Bayern Munich and a brace against Viktoria Plzen.
I'm not convinced, however, that there's enough juice in that price ahead of, say, Edin Dzeko in the anytime market at even money with the Bosnian having netted in each of his last four games as he enjoys one of his best spells in a City shirt.
That really doesn't look too bad a price but there's an uneasy feeling about this game with rather too many imponderables for my liking.
If Pellegrini names a strong line-up and Allardyce a weak one then prices like the 4/9 about an away win will vanish as will the even money half-time/full-time price about the Mancunians.
That's a chance that I'm prepared to take, however, until having rather more information at hand.
- The match is being televised live in the UK by Sky Sports.