West Ham will run up against a familiar face from the lower leagues this week in the FA cup in the form of Wigan Athletic. It’s been a long fall for the Latics since they won the competition in 2013. They’re now mired in the League One promotion battle. They sit top of the table in the third division.
For West Ham, it’s an opportunity for squad players to impress and regular starters to rest. Anything less than a victory will disappoint fans, but David Moyes may find the game useful as an opportunity to experiment.
Formation and Starting XI:
The questions over formation are interesting. For my part, I expect a 3-5-2 formation, but almost anything is conceivable.
In goal, Joe Hart should get an opportunity. He’s been displaced in the league by Adrian, and he desperately needs to shine if he wants to start at the World Cup. There’s a lot of pressure riding on the former Manchester City star, who conceded a last minute goal to Ben Watson in Wigan’s famous FA win.
In defense, Jose Fonte is out injured. I expect youngsters Reece Burke and Declan Rice to start. Whether Reece Oxford features, amidst rumors of a return to Germany, will play is an incredible interesting question. I honestly have no idea.
Alongside the two youth stars James Collins could feature. The Welsh international has seen appearances limited this year. On the flanks, Arthur Masuaku and Sam Byram should play. Masuaku has been a revelation under Moyes, fulfilling the potential he showed at Olympiacos.
In midfield, I expect Mark Noble to provide leadership, with Edimilson Fernandes and Josh Cullen playing alongside. We may see a more experienced lineup, should Moyes decide top bring in Obiang or Kouyate.
Up front, with the attacking line devastated by injuries, Javier Hernandez surely deserves a chance after his goal against Bournemouth. Hopefully, Toni Martinez starts alongside him. It would be fantastic to see youth given a chance, and Martinez’s promise will only be fulfilled through game time.
Players To Watch: Nick Powell (Wigan) and Javier Hernandez (West Ham)
Not so long ago, Nick Powell was considered one of the brightest stars in the lower leagues. A star of the England U-17 team, he was identified by Alex Ferguson’s scouts and joined Manchester United.
Since then, it’s been a story of perpetual injuries, and one absurd substitution in a crucial champions league match.
At Wigan though, it seems he’s found a home. 11 goals put him near the top of the League one Golden Boot race, but he’s more than just a goalscorer. He’ll be the main threat for Wigan.
For West Ham, another former Manchester United man. Javier Hernandez is, when on form, one of the most talented strikers in England. That form has rarely been shown this year, and David Moyes seems unwilling to let him shine. However, a cameo against Bournemouth turned into a crucial goal, and it should be enough to win him a start against Wigan.
The Mexican international thrives off service in the box, which there should be plenty of against Wigan. If Chicharito can find his best form, it could be crucial for West Ham.
Only a victory will do. I expect West Ham’s young players to play with a point to prove.
West Ham 4-0 Wigan