Manchester United v West Ham
Tuesday February 9, 17:30
Live on BBC One
United looking to go as far as possible
Manchester United come into this one in fine form and look a completely different side to the one that was struggling a few weeks ago. Simple as it sounds, they’ve improved in pretty much every area and some players are at the top of their game.
Harry Maguire is looking more like the England defender that he is rather than the nervous and anxious one that we saw after his debacle in Mykonos. Scott McTominay is another who’s been good and if he can carry on adding goals to his play, they’ll have a serious midfelder on their hands, if they don’t already. Bruno Fernandes, well, we all know about him.
So they’ll be looking to go deep in this competition and the FA Cup is a competition that’s always been taken very seriously at Old Trafford. But they won’t win it conceding three goals in a game like they did against Everton. It was bad enough to concede the first two but to allow the Toffees to score from a set piece so late on suggests there’s always room for improvement.
Moyes going strong
The Hammers are on a good run themselves. It’s taken some time but they’ve become a well-drilled, disciplined side and David Moyes deserves plenty of credit.
What they now also have with a couple of fresh faces and players returning from injury is good options on the bench.
Tomas Soucek’s running, passing and goals have been a big feature of their improvement and they’ll be delighted that his red card against Fulham has been rescinded. Michail Antonio will as ever, be a handful for United’s defence with his power, pace and aerial ability.
United initially look a bit short at 1.68/13. West Ham have become a tough nut to crack and can be hard to break down.
The explanation for that price are the stats. It’s now 15 games in all competitions without a win against the Reds for the Hammers and United have knocked them out of this competition the last three times they’ve played them. They’ve also won all of their last eight at home in the FA Cup.
So maybe it’s not such a good lay after all even though, of course, stats aren’t the-be-all-and-end-all. It’s 4.77/2 the draw and 6.05/1 that the Hammers win in 90 minutes.
Overs is strong favourite here (1.6) and with both teams being involved in plenty of high-scoring games of late, that’s no surprise.
Three of the last four here at Old Trafford between the two also saw at least three goals in them. Perhaps more significantly, 58% of United’s home games (in the league) and 66% of west Ham’s away games have had at least three goals.
There’s a chance that West Ham may set themselves up to frustrate but sooner or later they’ll have to go looking for a goal themselves.
If you don’t want to be backing ‘overs’ as a relatively short price, then how about as a 2.59 chance as part of a same-game multi-bet?
That’s the number you come up with if you add a Bruno Fernandes goal (11/10) to the equation.
The Portuguese midfielder’s numbers really are impressive. It’s now 18 goals in 39 matches in all competitions for the season for club and country and three in his last five, including a wonder goal on Saturday in that 3-3 draw. He also scored a memorable goal in this competition against Liverpool in the previous round after coming off the bench.
The good thing with him of course is that he can score from in and around the box, shoots from everywhere and is in charge of all dangerous set-pieces, including of course penalties.
And they certainly seem to get plenty of those. But the best thing you’ve got going for you is that he’s one hell of a finisher and just loves scoring goals. Let’s hope he gets another.