After Thursday night’s humiliating 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Europa League, Manchester United will now have to face West Ham in the FA Cup and hope to reach their first semi-final in five years. Four consecutive wins between February 22 and March 2 led to suggestions that Louis van Gaal had turned a corner at Man United and could save what has been a poor campaign in the final months. The Dutchman’s side are now back to square one, however, following back-to-back defeats across two separate competitions.
Although Man United might be struggling at the moment, West Ham on the other hand have been having a good season. Indeed, the Hammers are very much in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League and will also fancy their chances of lifting their fourth FA Cup and their first since 1980. They have won 10 of their last 15 games in all competitions, including each of their last four, to create a lot of hope among their fans. Their impending move to the new stadium still looms ahead, and to get a good finish could mean better transfers once the season is over.
Man United will be without the services of Juan Mata through suspension, but Jesse Lingard is available after missing the Liverpool match through a European ban.
Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young remain on the sidelines, but Bastian Schweinsteiger is in line for a start after making his return off the bench on Thursday. Antonio Valencia is also in contention for a place in the squad.
Ander Herrera is expected to replace Mata in the number 10 position, while Anthony Martial should continue at centre-forward, dropping Marcus Rashford to the bench.
As for West Ham, Enner Valencia, Victor Moses and Joey O’Brien are all available following spells on the sidelines and Winston Reid could also return at centre-back.
James Collins and James Tomkins will both miss out through injury, however, and January signing Sam Byram is cup-tied. Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, meanwhile, are both in line to replace Emmanuel Emenike in the final third of the field.
- The two sides last met in the FA Cup three seasons ago, with Manchester United securing a 1-0 home victory in a third-round replay.
- The Hammers are winless in their last nine trips to Old Trafford in all competitions (D1, L8).
- West Ham’s last two cup triumphs over United were at Old Trafford, the most recent being by 1-0 in 2001.
- West Ham have won 10 of their last 15 games in all competitions (D3, L2).
- The Hammers have scored seven goals in their last two FA Cup ties.
- United have conceded only once in their three previous FA Cup games this campaign.
- They have scored 12 goals in their last four games at Old Trafford in all competitions, as many as they had managed in their previous 13 home matches.
Head to Head
05/12/2015 Premier League 2015/2016 Manchester United 0 – 0 West Ham United
08/02/2015 Premier League 2014/2015 West Ham United 1 – 1 Manchester United
27/09/2014 Premier League 2014/2015 Manchester United 2 – 1 West Ham United
22/03/2014 Premier League 2013/2014 West Ham United 0 – 2 Manchester United
21/12/2013 Premier League 2013/2014 Manchester United 3 – 1 West Ham United
17/04/2013 Premier League 2012/2013 West Ham United 2 – 2 Manchester United
Manchester United – David De Gea
De Gea has proved time and again that he is THE key player of the present United squad. As portrayed in the last game against Liverpool, De Gea has been instrumental in saving the face of the team for quite a lot of times. De Gea was at least proving his worth, if many of his team-mates were not. The keeper palmed away a swerving Clyne shot on 66 minutes as Liverpool turned the screw, but his resistance was finally broken on 74 minutes by Firmino.
He is, in fact, the only saving grace for Manchester United and he would continue to be so even in the upcoming game against West Ham on Sunday.
West Ham – Dimitri Payet
The Frenchman has been a sensation all season, but his performance in helping West Ham come back from a 2-0 deficit for the first time in the Premier League since 2000 to move within a point of the top four demanded a whole new set of superlatives.
It can take some players an entire year to adjust to the demands of the Premier League but Payet barely broke stride the minute he stepped on an English pitch. One of his first touches for West Ham in the opening game of the season against Arsenal involved chasing a long Mark Noble ball out to the left, controlling at speed and using his head, literally and metaphorically, to keep it in play and cross to the front post.
With West Ham in form and Manchester United struggling greatly, the match is likely to end up in a 1-0 victory for West Ham United.