Listening on the radio feed to yesterday's game the crowd noise was unmistakeably that of a cup game! Loud and passionate, you could sense the passion and excitement. Things weren't too bad on the pitch either, as Manuel Pellegrini fielded a strong side who ultimately had too much for a gamey Birmingham City.
The Blues had a number of chances to level matters along the way and will feel that West Ham were lucky to keep a clean sheet, but ultimately with 74% possession, almost three times as many passes (619 vs 211) and a vastly higher pass accuracy, West Ham were relatively comfortable winners.
There were impressive performances by the youngsters, with both Silva and Diangana posing a constant threat up front and forcing Birmingham to play relatively deep. However, the biggest talking point was the bizarre Arnautovic substitution. It seems Pellegrini may have had a rare rush of blood to the head as he pulled Marko ashore after just 20 minutes, much to the astonishment of everybody - including Arnie himself!
One disappointment from the game was that we could not get a two goal cushion early enough to give Conor Coventry a run. The cup provides excellent opportunity for younger players to get big match experience but equally, with our injury problems the Hammers did not want to concede and have to go to a replay.
Andy Carroll got his first goal for nine months with a classical Carroll header - but not after missing two gilt edged opportunities on the floor! Its hard to know where to go with the Carroll story from here as he remains a great striker but simply cannot maintain fitness. One suspects that Pellegrini has a clear mind and will follow his plans with his usual ruthlessness. It was wonderful to hear him calmly dismissing the media in his post match interview as they tried to create a storm about the Arnautovic incident.
Next up its Monday night and the draw. We are ball 22 (Quack Quack!!!). David Gold has tweeted that he feels a Cup run coming. There is a good feeling about the club right now and that's a great time to have a run at the cup. The draw is after the Liverpool game (maybe 9.45). Ex-Hammer Robbie Keane will be pulling the balls.
Arsenal next Saturday will be a big test. The Gunners have a modest away record this season, winning four of their ten games and losing on three occasions. With Zabaleta coming back to add balance at the back, Nasri adding to our midfield options and both Arnie and Andy Carroll reasonably fit, maybe its time to buck the trend as over the past decade we have won only 1 of 22 games (2015), with 4 draws!!!