Premiership Plus

OVER the last 18 months West Ham United have faced, and acquitted themselves very well, against a number of Premiership sides in Cup competitions.

Wolves, then contesting in the top-flight, were dispatched 3-1 in last season's FA Cup at Molineux while competitive displays at Spurs, Fulham and Chelsea over the last two seasons suggest that Hammers might have a few surprises waiting for Norwich at Upton Park tomorrow.

"Looking back at the games we've had recently against Premiership clubs the signs are very encouraging," explained Alan Pardew. "Last season we put in a very good performance at Spurs in the Carling Cup and we're unlucky not to get anything out of the game.

"We played Fulham in last season's FA Cup Fifth Round, and should have won the game at Craven Cottage, before they beat us in a replay.

"Then we were very competitive against Chelsea and might have nicked something right at the end. Their subsequent results have proved what a good display we put in at Stamford Bridge and that is a positive we will take into the Norwich match.

"We've stood up well against Premiership sides in the past two seasons and there's no reason why we can't do the same again.

"We have players that are capable of raising their games for the big occasions and hopefully they'll do that for us tomorrow."

But Pards does confess that Norwich, who West Ham fought out two 1-1 draws with last season, will be bring vital Premiership experience into the match and under the strain of a relegation battle will be desperate for a moral boosting victory.

"Norwich will have improved from the side we faced last season," admitted Alan. "You have to improve to survive in the Premiership and I think Nigel Worthington has done a great job at the club.

"They've been unlucky not to get more results so far this season and have been really competitive in almost every game, so this will be a tough test for us.

"They've still got a great chance of fighting their way out of trouble and Norwich will see this game as a great opportunity to get a win and boost their Premiership confidence.

"Like a lot of promoted teams, Norwich have discovered that it isn't easy to get wins in the Premiership. That's why they'll approach this game really determined to get a good win and give the players, fans and staff a lift.

"We have to be aware of that and make it as difficult as possible for them to play."

Many of Norwich's players will be familiar to West Ham from last season, but one of the Canaries promotion-winning squad is likely to line up for the Hammers.
Pards is full of praise for defender Malky Mackay and knows the Scottish international will be looking forward to the clash with his old club.

"Malky is a real winner," exclaimed Alan. "He's been really strong on the pitch since he arrived here, but even stronger off it.

"He's a vital part of our dressing room atmosphere and I'm sure he'll have the squad really fired up to get a result against his old team at Upton Park tomorrow."