A nice touch from Robbie Keane - a back-heel, left for Frederic Piquionne - gave the crowd reason for hope in the 19th minute. With space at the edge of the box, the French attacker looked set to stride into a strike on Ben Foster. But he had too many ideas for the time he was allowed. The ball caught in his feet, his decisions caught in his mind, the play fizzled and flattened when the big striker could only scoop a shot with his left foot toward the goal's upper-left hand corner. Foster calmly caught the ball as it descended toward goal.
Moments later, Victor Obinna scuffed a shot wide right from 20 yards, another half-chance from the feet of Keane, but now at the half-way point of the first period, there's still been no legitimate excitement. Birmingham City continues to provide the least value for you viewing pleasure, a malaise that has both infected West Ham as well as prevented the Blues from taking advantage of the likes of Wayne Bridge. Not even the left back's deficiencies have been able to add vitality to this one.
As "stay up, Victor" racking in from the West Ham bench, instructions for West Ham's left sided attacker who seems to be unwittingly shifting the Hammers into a 4-4-2, you realize the most interesting part of this match are the teams' shapes. And those aren't interesting at all, but when the crowd is so quiet that you can hear the sideline's adjustments, the formations become to protagonists.