West Ham United couldn’t have asked for a tougher third round FA Cup draw, as they will face Manchester City at the London Stadium.
The Hammers come into the tie off the back of two straight defeats, which proceeded a needed run of three straight wins. That winning streak erased growing tension around the club and makes them comfortable underdogs today in match where losing would not be the end of the world.
However, the FA Cup is important to Slaven Bilic and with Man City being the unlucky draw they have received, he is forced to fielding his best side as possible. With Andre Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate off to the African Cup of Nations, and the likes of Sam Byram (still not ready), Diafra Sakho, Gokhan Tore and James Collins unavailable once again, Bilic has had to make many changes.
Captain Mark Noble and Dimitri Payet are on the bench, and Adrian has been given the FA Cup action for Darren Randolph. Edimilson Fernandes gets a big start, and both Reece Oxford and Jonathan Calleri have a return to the bench.
Meanwhile for Pep Guardiola in his FA Cup debut, he also has been forced into changes after Fernandinho’s latest ridiculous red card. With Nigeria failing to qualify for this AFCON in Gabon, Kelechi Iheanacho will be available all month for his club team. He starts on the bench tonight, as Guardiola has still chosen a strong squad for this mouth watering contest.
First Half Recap
Well, that went from a fun, exciting contest to an exciting one sided blowout, with the second and third goal coming within a span of two minutes at the end of the half.
Ogbonna once again provided another disaster, with placing himself in a position to get called for a soft penalty foul on Zabaleta. No need for the Italian to somehow dabble in danger, and he did just that to allow City the 1-0 lead on the penalty.
Havard Nordtveit had some really good defensive moments in the first half. But he can only do so much in his makeshift position, as he couldn’t clear the danger from Sagna’s cross to Raheem Sterling for the second goal. It wasn’t his fault on the third goal, as his three other members of the Hammers backline did not communicate whatsoever. There was a poor step up by Winston Reid and even worse stagnation by Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell that lead to Nordtveit having no chance in a 3-1 situation to allow David Silva his goal.
All in all, a tie completely over before the first half ended, and how West Ham can prepare for a bit of a break to just focus on the Premier League the rest of the season.