Friday 6th January 2016 Kickoff: 1955hrs
West Ham United v Manchester City
Football – England – FA Cup
The FA Cup Third Round has long been one of the most anticipated weekends on the English football calendar and whilst it may carry the same prestige as it once did, there’s still excitement around. West Ham face Manchester City in the first game of the round this year, with both sides requiring a boost from what has been a disappointing first half of the season. West Ham last reached the final in 2006 – contesting an epic encounter against Liverpool, whilst City have reached it twice in the last six seasons, winning once against Stoke before a shock loss to Wigan two years later. Who will take one step closer to Wembley this time around?!
There was real positivity building around West Ham after Slaven Bilic guided the Hammers to seventh – and a place in Europe – in his first season in charge, ahead of their move to the London Stadium. That positivity has been tempered somewhat this term, however, as West Ham have been unable to hit those same heights. Monday’s loss at home to Manchester United was their 10th defeat of the season and one that leaves them in the bottom half of the table. They do have a seven point cushion over the bottom three and managed to string three crucial wins together in December, but expectation now is such that the supporters are not accepting of merely surviving in the Premier League. The club have this week been linked with several strikers in a attempt to add depth to their squad and it could be a new signing with a proven ability to score goals at the top level will ensure they kick on between now and May.
The hysteria that surrounded Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad has been diluted somewhat with City struggling to keep on track with leaders Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. Recent losses to that opponent and Liverpool have highlighted some real shortcomings of the team and their seemingly inability to put a run of form together that many felt they were capable of. For a manager that only knows success in Spain and Germany, his first experience of England has certainly been something of a reality check and one that has begun to annoy Guardiola who has been noticeably irked with the media of late. His players at least showed some of the desire and grit that has been lacking by defeated Burnley at home despite playing the majority of the game with 10 men and will be hoping that the result and second half performance is the foundations for a very positive run of form to begin 2017 – starting with Guardiola’s first FA Cup game this evening.
West Ham United v Manchester City Betting Tips
These two have already met in the league this season as City survived a second half scare to record a 3-1 win which took them to the top of the table at the time. That seems a long time ago for Guardiola but he’ll be desperate for another win over the hammers with a view to continuing City’s participation in the competition. West Ham will just be hoping that the switch of competition brings with it better results at home than the league does. To give them some confidence, they have already defeated Chelsea in the other domestic cup this term.
Both teams have struggled defensively this season which should mean for plenty of goals in this encounter. West Ham have kept just four clean sheets all season whilst City have not been much better with seven – taking into account that two of them were against Steaua in the playoff round of the Champions League. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals was a slightly unlucky loser for us in midweek but I think that’s the route to go on this occasion.
Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals 20/23 @ Coral