Sunday 12th March. 4PM. BT Sport 1
Just 90 minute separates Premier League rivals Manchester United and West Ham from a place in this year’s FA Cup semi-final, and Sunday’s quarter-final showdown has all the makings of a classic.
While the Red Devils are enduring a difficult campaign, the Hammers are enjoying a splendid time. Both sets of fans will be desperate to see their teams seal a place at Wembley. But only one of them will make it.
Who will it be?
Manchester United Out To Save Season
Louis van Gaal won’t be ready to throw in the towel just yet, but Thursday’s Europa League loss at Anfield leaves them in real trouble against arch rivals Liverpool; with a top four spot in the Premier League looking unlikely, the FA Cup could be their only source of success for 2015/16. But it certainly won’t be easy.
Not only do the Red Devils face a tough West Ham side, but they’re not looking very cohesive in the attacking third. The inexperience of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay is very evident. Those players are all prone to being a little hit and miss. Old Trafford will be praying that they perform.
Manchester United do have some defensive issues to contend with, not least in the absences department. However, if David De Gea plays as he did at Anfield, then the hosts should feel quietly confident at the back.
Despite Thursday’s disappointment, the Red Devils have performed well at home in recent weeks, winning four on the spin in all competitions. Make it five here, and they’ll be on their way to Wembley. After 12 years without winning this trophy, it would come as a very welcome change.
Bubbles Flying High For West Ham
West Ham’s final season at the Boleyn Ground is turning out to be one of their most successful, and Slaven Bilic’s men still have high hopes of fighting for Champions League qualification. For now, though, their attentions turn back to FA Cup action. It would be truly amazing if the Hammers could celebrate this landmark season with silverware.
It has been a decade since West Ham last reached a final, but they’ll be quietly confident about going one step closer as they make the trip to a wounded Red Devils. The Hammers are actually about the hosts in the league while their extra rest could be vital too.
Star man Dimitri Payet was incredible against Blackburn in the last round, and is accustomed to stepping up when it matters. If he does this on Sunday, the 9,000 travelling supporters could return to London as very Happy Hammers.
It won’t be easy, but the likes of Andy Carroll and the in-from Michail Antonio amongst their arsenal, the visitors certainly won’t be scared. It should be an intriguing battle to say the least.
Manchester United v West Ham United Betting
With home advantage on their side, Manchester United are the favourites at Evens with Bet365. However, West Ham shouldn’t be ruled out at 3/1. The draw can be backed at 13/5.
The corresponding league meeting ended in a stalemate as West Ham formed an impregnable guard, and they’ll be eager to do this once more. Even a replay could hand the edge to Bilic’s men. Nevertheless, they will see this as an opportunity to take advantage of a tired and emotionally battered home side.
It’s unlikely to be a goal fest, but West Ham will want to pile the pressure on. Meanwhile, Van Gaal’s men will be eager to bounce back from Thursday with a quick start. We’re backing an early goal.
We have a sneaky feeling that West Ham’s incredible seasons will continue in style here. They’ve already clinched wins at the Emirates, Etihad and Anfield this term, so there’s no reason for the visitors to panic.
If they are to book their place at Wembley, then Payet is likely to play a starring role. We’re backing the phenomenal Frenchman to score.