WEST Ham host Manchester United in an intriguing FA Cup Quarter-Final replay on Wednesday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) previews the match.
West Ham v Manchester United | Wednesday 19:00 | BBC One
It was interesting to see the BBC renewing the rights to the FA Cup until the early part of the next decade earlier this week. I must admit I was cynical about that but this match provides the perfect antidote to that attitude.
Live on BBC One on Wednesday night West Ham host Manchester United in what looks a fascinating FA Cup Quarter-Final replay. It’s sixth v fifth in the Premier League and there’s lots at stake here.
For West Ham it’s the final Cup game at Upton Park before they leave for the grandeur of the Olympic Stadium next season and for Manchester United…well where do you start?
Defeat here is likely to mean the Louis Van Gaal era ends without a trophy and it will be another black mark on a club who’ve danced with decline since the great Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.
My allegiances are clear. I backed West Ham at 11/1 to win the FA Cup back in February and for me they have looked the perfect Cup side this season.
They’ve beaten Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea and have shown that on their day have nothing to fear from any side in England. The only side missing on their hit-list from last season’s Top 6 is Manchester United.
The Hammers should have probably knocked them out in the first match here at Old Trafford exactly a month ago but a late goal from Anthony Martial kept the tie alive.
If Manchester United would have beaten or even drawn against Tottenham on Sunday I would have no hesitation in putting West Ham up for the win here but the fact they got smashed puts me off.
You see, this United side tend to be like a baddie in a film. You think you’ve killed them off and are embracing your damsel in distress only for them to appear from nowhere and try and stab you in the heart.
The evidence? Their abysmal run at Christmas (with Van Gaal clinging onto his fingernails) was followed a fortnight later with a win at Anfield.
Back in February, Sunderland and Midtjylland humiliated them before they dusted themselves down and beat Arsenal and then in March they responded to a spirit-crushing Europa League loss to Liverpool by beating Man City at the Etihad, Tread carefully opposing this lot!
Sunday’s defeat to Tottenham was their first in five games so in that respect it would be no surprise if they lost again here. This side tend to be streaky and early-February was the last time they failed to string two consecutive same outcomes together. To explain better, their form figures read: LLWWWWLLDDWWL. Very streaky eh?
If ever there was a match for Van Gaal’s men to stand up for him and produce the right result it’s here but how the hell can you back them at 15/8 against a side unbeaten at home for eight months?!
Yeah let’s not play down West Ham’s role in this match. This is their last Cup game at Upton Park and they have a massive chance of winning this competition and securing their first major silverware in 36 years. If they win here on Wednesday they go favourites in my book.
So surely there’s equally as much motivation from their side? They’re unbeaten since August at home and, hey take a minute to digest this, have huge claims to simply being a BETTER SIDE than Manchester United.
While I feel this might be an unholy scrap which could go all the way to penalties, I simply have to back West Ham at the odds. 33/20 for a side unbeaten in eight months on this ground and unbeaten in 10 overall. Come on, they have to be backed!
West Ham v Manchester United – West Ham to win (33/20 Bet365)
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