For Manchester United this FA Cup game doesn’t come at an ideal time, sandwiched as it is between two massive Europa League games against arch-rivals Liverpool.
Their four-match winning run in all competitions came to an end with the 1-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and although there were mitigating circumstances given Juan Mata’s senseless early dismissal, it was another fairly lacklustre display from Louis van Gaal’s charges.
This is turning into an excellent season for West Ham United under Slaven Bilic, as they continue to challenge for both an unlikely top four finish and the FA Cup. West Ham are one of the form teams in the country at present, having won five of their last six in all competitions and having lost just twice in 20 matches dating back to late November.
Injuries are starting to clear for Manchester United, but they are still missing the likes of Wayne Rooney; Bastian Schweinsteiger; Ashley Young and Luke Shaw, while Mata will be suspended. They are also in the midst of a very busy schedule of games, with this being their seventh match in 20 days.
West Ham have fewer injury issues, but Sam Byram is cup-tied, while fellow defenders James Collins, James Tomkins and Carl Jenkinson are all sidelined through injury. A more potent attack than Manchester United’s could prove troublesome, but Van Gaal’s team continue to lack any real spark and urgency going forward. That won’t be helped with Mata being unavailable.
Back in December West Ham came away with a goalless draw in the Premier League fixture at Old Trafford and could easily have won after twice hitting the woodwork. That was a West Ham team that was missing Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakho, Manuel Lanzini and Enner Valencia, all of whom should be fit and available on Sunday.
West Ham are in confident mood and will have had a full week to prepare for this game, whereas Manchester United are likely to be emotionally and physically drained after Thursday evening’s Europa League tie on Merseyside.
The visitors look to have more match-winners in their ranks that Manchester United at the moment and they always look to have a goal or two in them. Backing them +0.5 on the Asian Handicap would provide a winning bet provided the Hammers avoid defeat.