A preview of Manchester United's FA Cup replay with West Ham United: team news, form guide, lineup projections, TV info, Referee appointment, and odds.
It is because of this moment of magic, from both Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie, that we are having this replay:
A week-and-a-half ago, Tom Cleverley opened the scoring at the Boleyn Ground with a wonderful curling effort to the far-post in the 23rd minute. Minutes later, James Collins rose high to equalise for West Ham United after a Joe Cole cross. The same combination, a Cole cross from the left side to a Collins' header, put the Hammers up 2-1 in the 59th minute. Then stoppage time arrived when van Persie, as a substitute that night, came on to (again) rescue Manchester United.
Form Guide: United currently sit top of the Premier League table with 55 points from 22 matches and with a seven-point advantage over nearest title-contending rival Manchester City. The Red Devils are currently unbeaten in their past 11 domestic matches with the only draws being the 2-2 FA Cup meeting with West Ham and the 1-1 league visit to Swansea City. Their recent result occurred at the weekend when they defeated rivals Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Team News: Nemanja Vidic, Ashley Young, and Jonny Evans are expected to be unavailable. Anders Lindegaard missed the weekend match with Liverpool due to the flu apparently. The Dane's current status is uncertain. Wayne Rooney and Nani are expected to make their returns from recent injury for this match. (Full Team News Report)
WEST HAM UNITED
Form Guide: The Hammers currently sit 11th in the league table with 26 points from 21 matches. They also have a game in hand on most of the league. The form of Sam Allardyce's side has dipped lately as they've only won once from their past seven fixtures. Their most recent result was a 0-3 defeat by Sunderland at the weekend.
Team News: The injury situation is dire for the East London side as the likes of James Collins, Mark Noble, George McCartney, Joey O'Brien, and Andy Carroll are all out due to injury. Modibo Maiga is unavailable as well because he's left to represent Mali in the African Cup of Nations. January recruits are Wellington Paulista and Marouane Chamakh are ineligible for this round of the competition.
United: David de Gea has started the past nine games in goal and he again appears likely to be chosen. If manager Sir Alex Ferguson wants to give the Spaniard a rest though, either Lindegaard or Ben Amos are possible. With Vidic and Evans out, and with Rio Ferdinand likely to be given a rest, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones seem probable as the central-defender duo. If Patrice Evra is rested too, then Alexander Buttner could deputise at left-back. Any of Rafael, Smalling, Jones, or even Antonio Valencia are possible at right-back.
In central-midfield, any of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher, or Giggs are possible. Carrick and Cleverley started at the weekend so they are obvious candidates to be rotated out. This seems like a good fixture to introduce Anderson after his recent recovery from injury.
Ferguson has already indicated that Nani is likely to be involved so this hints that a system with wingers will be used rather than a diamond one. The Portuguese winger could play on either flank. The likes of Valencia, Giggs, Shinji Kagawa, and Danny Welbeck are also in contention in the wide areas.
If a diamond system is used, then any of Kagawa, Giggs, or Nick Powell are possible in a playmaker's role. RvP is obviously the first name on the team sheet most days but if he's rested, then the likes of Welbeck and Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) are possible to partner Wayne Rooney up front. Ferguson has already indicated the latter would be involved for this match.
West Ham: Jussi Jaaskelainen is the No.1 and he'll likely be between the posts. Allardyce's choices in defense are limited due to injury as his only established first-team options are James Tomkins, Winston Reid, and Guy Demel. Expect youngster Danny Potts to join them as well and be deployed at left-back.
In midfield, with Noble likely out, that leaves Alou Diarra and Jack Collison as the likely central-midfielders. Gary O'Neil is in contention as well. Out wide, two of either Matthew Jarvis, Joe Cole, Matthew Taylor, and Ricardo Vaz Te will be chosen. Carlton Cole is expected as the No.9 and in behind him could be either Kevin Nolan, Taylor, or J.Cole.
KO: 8:05pm GMT, 3:05pm EST | Old Trafford
Live TV: ITV1 (U.K.), Fox Soccer (U.S.)
Referee: Phil Dowd
Odds: Manchester United 1/3, Draw 4/1, West Ham United 15/2