Birmingham City host the Hammers on Boxing Day in the Npower Championship

By Marc Owen-Banks on 22/12/2011 21:49

 Just a few weeks ago, Birmingham City were in good form under Chris Houghton and with the games they had in hand, if winning all could have reached the heady heights of third place in the Npower Championship. With a gain of just eight points in the last eight games, that potential can no longer be realized. Having said that, with the two games they still have in hand over the teams above them, 6 points added to their current tally of 29 would see them in 6th place, making this game against West Ham just as important as any other they have played this season.

West Ham are just one point short of Southampton at the top of the division and may even have been above them without defeats to Burnley and Reading in the two matches before they returned to winning ways last weekend against Barnsley at Upton Park. The importance of another win here if they are to have aspirations of leap-frogging the Saints over the festive period are obvious as the league leaders have home advantage against Crystal Palace earlier in the day. Any mistake there and Sam Allardyce will be even keener to capitalize.

2/1 is the best price available for West Ham to win this game, Birmingham are around a 6/4 chance, and given they are as yet undefeated at St Andrews, winning 6 of the 9 they’ve played at home, it doesn’t seem a bad price.

West Ham have travelled well this season though. Gaining more points away from home than they have in front of their own fans. Defeats have come only at Southampton and Reading, winning seven of their other 9 matches on the road.

In these circumstances a draw wouldn’t be a bad result for either side and although the draw price at 9/4 offers little value, perhaps small stakes on both 1-1 (11/2) and 2-2 (16/1) scorelines may be employed, both with William Hill

Recommendation: Back 1-1 (11/2) and 2-2 (16/1) both at William Hill