There is really no reason for West Ham not to take the FA Cup seriously this season, including Monday night’s game against non-league Stockport. David Moyes’s side are in absolutely no danger of relegation and are realistically not going to qualify for Europe, so they may as well put all their eggs in the FA Cup basket.
Some of the best teams in the competition will struggle to focus on the FA Cup given that they will have to balance a congested Premier League calendar and their European involvement, and West Ham can take advantage of that.
They haven’t played since New Year’s Day and don’t play again until Saturday, so Moyes should avoid any potential banana skins by selecting a full-strength line-up. The Hammers have lost just one of their last five away league games and have the seventh-best away record in the Premier League. They really should have no trouble continuing their fine form on the road.
Monday 20:00 – Stockport County v West Ham United
BT Sport 1
Michail Antonio has found his fitness at just the right moment considering the Hammers have just sold record signing Sebastien Haller to Ajax for a cut price. Antonio came off the bench against Everton on New Year’s Day following a long injury lay-off and could do with more game time before West Ham’s next league game against Burnley on Saturday.
Antonio scored crucial goals in some of West Ham’s impressive early-season performances, but hasn’t started a game since the draw with Manchester City in October. He should play at least a half on Monday night ahead of West Ham’s congested run of league fixtures and should thrive against non-league opposition.
Stockport County fans may be eyeing a romantic FA Cup shock, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim – especially in the absence of any fans. It is a shame that Stockport fans can’t roar their team on against Premier League opposition and Edgeley Park surely would have been bouncing in normal circumstances.
However, it won’t be, and it’s hard to see anything but a comfortable West Ham win behind closed doors. The game will now more closely resemble a training match than a traditional David v Goliath FA Cup tie, and West Ham’s superior quality should shine through once the emotion is stripped away.
West Ham have kept three clean sheets in their last five away games and have kept two clean sheets on the bounce. They should make it three-in-a-row on Monday.
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