A place in the FA Cup quarter-finals will be on the line when Manchester United and West Ham United meet at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The FA Cup resumes this week with the fifth round. And Wednesday will serve up four matches, with Manchester United, fresh off winning the Carabao Cup on Sunday, and West Ham United meeting at Old Trafford in the marquee fixture of the latest stage.
Manchester United might not have envisioned winning a trophy so soon after appointing Erik ten Hag. But the Dutchman has had such a transformative effect thus far at Old Trafford. And that has seen the Red Devils go from strength to strength in the last six months, with the latest success coming in the Carabao Cup last weekend.
As for the FA Cup, Manchester United began the campaign with a 3-1 win over Everton. And another victory with the same scoreline followed in the fourth round against Reading. On the other hand, Brentford and Derby County were the victims of West Ham United in the last two stages. And the Hammers are yet to concede a goal in the competition.
But their fortunes in the Premier League have dwindled considerably this season. David Moyes’s men are currently 16th on the table, but their results have improved somewhat recently. Only one of West Ham’s last five top-flight outings has ended in defeat. And after beating Nottingham Forest 4-0 last weekend, they will be buoyant against Manchester United.
Manchester United and West Ham United have clashed once this season, with the Red Devils clinching a 1-0 win in the Premier League in October. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
❌ Anthony Martial
⏳ Luke Shaw
Erik ten Hag provides team news ahead of Manchester United’s FA Cup game with West Ham. pic.twitter.com/Oupm0lya0N
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 28, 2023
Erik ten Hag has two new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against West Ham United on Wednesday, the Manchester United manager might be bereft of the services of five first-team players.
Christian Eriksen (ankle), Donny van de Beek (knee), and Anthony Martial (hip) are confirmed absentees. In addition, ten Hag is sweating over the fitness of Luke Shaw and Fred, suggesting in his pre-match press conference that the two players are doubtful to feature on Wednesday.
So the duo will unlikely start against West Ham, with ten Hag expected to tweak the starting eleven considerably. Tom Heaton might make a rare start for Manchester United, who will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of him.
The backline will shuffle completely, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia starting as the full-backs. Meanwhile, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire should form the central defensive partnership, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez dropping to the bench.
Scott McTominay and Marcel Sabitzer were solid off the bench. And with ten Hag keeping one eye on the upcoming game against Liverpool, Casemiro will get some rest. Meanwhile, Fred might not feature at all, with Kobbie Mainoo an option likely being on the bench.
Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst might be the only players retaining their spots in the starting eleven. The duo will reprise their usual roles, with Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho being the two wide men. Marcus Rashford, who evaded a knock on Sunday, should ideally get some rest.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Heaton; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia; McTominay, Sabitzer; Sancho, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho; Weghorst
West Ham United
Like his counterpart in the Manchester United dugout, David Moyes has some major concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. The West Ham United manager will be without four first-team players on Wednesday.
Lukasz Fabianski suffered a fractured cheekbone and eye socket against Nottingham Forest. And he will be unavailable for the foreseeable future. The veteran goalkeeper has joined Vladimir Coufal (heel), Kurt Zouma (hamstring), and Maxwel Cornet (calf) on the sidelines.
Alphonse Areola picks himself between the sticks in the absence of Fabianski. And West Ham will line up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of the Frenchman after the system worked wonders against Nottingham Forest.
🤕 Łukasz Fabiański
David Moyes says Łukasz Fabiański has got a fractured cheek bone and eye socket. pic.twitter.com/Jil1NuYBfF
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) February 28, 2023
Thilo Kehrer and Nayef Aguerd have nailed down the central defensive berths. And they will start as the two centre-backs against Manchester United on Wednesday. Ben Johnson and Aaron Cresswell should be the two full-backs at Old Trafford.
Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, and Lucas Paqueta will be the three midfielders, with the trio forming a fluid partnership. All three players can be solid in the defensive phases while making a mark higher up the pitch. Soucek, in particular, will pose a threat in set-piece situations.
Danny Ings scored twice against Nottingham Forest but might not start due to his suspect fitness situation. So Michail Antonio will spearhead the West Ham attack against Manchester United. Finally, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen should be the two wide attackers for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Areola; Johnson, Kehrer, Aguerd, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek, Paqueta; Bowen, Antonio, Benrahma
- Wednesday’s will be the 12th FA Cup tie between Manchester United and West Ham United and the first since the fifth round in 2020/21, a 1-0 Manchester United win. The Hammers have lost the last four such meetings, last winning in January 2001, a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford thanks to a Paolo Di Canio goal.
- West Ham United have won one of their last 20 away games against Manchester United in all competitions (D4 L15), a 1-0 win in the League Cup in September 2021. They have not scored more than once in any of their last 37 visits to Old Trafford since a 3-2 win in August 1986.
- Manchester United have won 13 of their 15 home FA Cup games (D2) since their most recent defeat at Old Trafford in the competition in March 2015 against Arsenal. They have also scored in their last 25 FA Cup games on home soil since a 1-0 loss to Leeds United in January 2010.
- West Ham will be looking to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2015/16, knocking out Blackburn Rovers in that season’s fifth round. The Hammers have lost their last two ties at this stage, including a defeat to Manchester United in 2020/21.
- In the current format of the FA Cup (1925/26 onwards), Manchester United have progressed from more fifth-round ties than any other club (41) and gone through in their last 12 clashes at this stage since a 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2005/06.
Player to Watch
Sabitzer has done well in the few outings since joining Manchester United on deadline day in the January transfer window. The Austrian international came to the fore after Casemiro picked up a three-match ban. And he has shown different sides to his game in the games this month.
But after the last few matches, it seems Casemiro and Fred are the first-choice central midfield partnership. So the FA Cup tie against West Ham United will offer Sabitzer the chance to rise in the pecking order. And with Fred unlikely to start, the 28-year-old will likely have the entire game to make his mark.
Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United
Both teams come into Wednesday’s game on the back of uplifting wins. But West Ham United will try to sense a possible Manchester United hangover following the Carabao Cup triumph. And that will give the visitors a window of opportunity to pounce and catch the Red Devils off-guard.
But Erik ten Hag has taught the Manchester United players to remain grounded irrespective of the situation. And while they will have some cagey moments, the hosts should be too strong for the Hammers. The Hard Tackle thus predicts a 2-1 win for ten Hag’s charges, who will progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals.