Manchester United and West Ham United meet in the third round of the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening, three days after resuming their Premier League rivalry. The Hammers were defeated 2-1 by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in London on Sunday, with Jesse Lingard scoring the game-winning goal.
It had to be Jesse Lingard who scored the winner against West Ham at the London Stadium. The England international destroyed West Ham’s perfect start to the league campaign with an 89th-minute goal, after lifting the Hammers into the Europa League last season and eventually remaining at Old Trafford amid strong desire from the London outfit.
Lingard’s winner happened to come after Cristiano Ronaldo had balanced the score after Said Benrahma’s opener, but Mr. Reliable Mark Noble had quite a wonderful chance to rescue a point from the penalty spot with practically the last kick of the game, but David de Gea saved the veteran’s attempt before being clobbered by his fellow players and manager.
United have collected 13 points from the 15 available in the 2021-22 Premier League season, battling back following their Champions League loss to Young Boys in an uninspiring fashion, albeit they remain below Chelsea and Liverpool on goal difference at this preliminary phase. The Red Devils have also scored nine goals in their two home wins over Newcastle United and Leeds United. However, they have suffered their last two EFL Cup semi-final failures – both to Manchester City – at Old Trafford in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
While the notion of breaking a five-year EFL Cup curse may be appealing to some, United’s tremendously difficult league and Champions League schedules will take priority in the coming weeks. Thus, West Ham’s chances of redeeming its Saturday setback are not completely implausible. Hammers manager David Moyes said he had no qualms about bringing on Noble to convert the last-gasp penalty on Sunday, but his team has now gone three games without a victory in the Premier League.
West Ham continued where they left off last campaign with an incredible start to the 2021-22 season, thumping Newcastle United and Leicester City, whereas the European journey began with a 2-0 Europa League win over Dinamo Zagreb. Although, they have only picked up two points in their last three Premier League games, dropping to eighth in the table. However, a visit to an underwhelming Leeds United team could offer to be a good occasion to launch a turnaround.
The Hammers’ last two EFL Cup outings ended in devastating away losses to Oxford United and Everton in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, and they haven’t advanced past round four since the 2017-18 season when Arsenal knocked them out in the quarter-finals. West Ham’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United at the weekend was their fourth loss in a row to the Red Devils in all competitions, and it has been 14 years when they last triumphed at Old Trafford, with that unforgettable Carlos Tevez goal on the closing day of the Premier League season in 2006-07.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Old Trafford.
Date: Wednesday, 22nd of September 2021.
Time: Kick-off at 19:45 BST.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.
Assistant Referees: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood.
Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh.
United are still missing forwards Marcus Rashford and Amad Diallo, but Edinson Cavani has a chance to play following an injury-plagued start to the season. Alex Telles is a bigger question mark, and with Phil Jones unlikely to rejoin the first team anytime soon, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly might be called up to the defence. Donny van de Beek, Diogo Dalot, and Anthony Martial are all expected to start today, while Tom Heaton may get the nod in goal while Dean Henderson works on his recovery.
WEST HAM UNITED:
With Winston Reid currently the only definite unavailability for the visitors due to injury, West Ham striker Michail Antonio returns from suspension this week and should fit right back into the lineup as the sole striker. Lukasz Fabianski had a good game on Sunday but will be replaced by Alphonse Areola, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek will get some well-deserved rest as Noble and Alex Kral develop a midfield partnership. Issa Diop and Andriy Yarmolenko are two more possible replacements for Moyes, who might also choose to reintroduce Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku to the backline.
Another chance at a trophy for Solskjaer?
Three months from now, on December 19, Solskjaer will have been in command of United for three years. During his time, the club has underwent a productive and much-needed renovation, although a lack of trophy possession continues to overshadow his achievements.
Any trophy will suffice for the Norwegian to put some distance between himself and his sceptics, as long as United remain towards the top of the table. The Carabao Cup may not be top on supporters’ wish lists this season, but it could present such an opportunity. This team is more than capable of traveling the distance in every game, and anything less than a win on Wednesday would raise strong doubts.
Can the Hammers seek revenge?
Manchester United and West Ham United are facing each other once again in the space of 3 days. The Premier League loss on Sunday must have made a few Hammers’ fans’ blood boil as they saw their team concede a late winner against beloved ex-loanee Jesse Lingard and also saw David Moyes bring Mark Noble on for a last-minute penalty only for it to be saved by David de Gea, who had not saved a single penalty in the last seven years.
It will definitely be a shot at redemption for the Hammers as they aim to spoil yet another chance for United to move further forward in a competition that they are yet to win since 2017.
MANCHESTER UNITED – JESSE LINGARD:
All attention will be on Lingard after his remarkable goal which sealed the victory on Sunday. He was widely reprimanded for intercepting a back-pass last Tuesday, but suddenly finds himself the hero of the moment a week later. Ohh, how opinions change so quickly!
The 28-year-old is full of optimism and will be eager to establish himself once more. This is frequently the scenario with Lingard, who is constantly mocked and has the media’s attention drawn to him. The midfielder should appreciate the opportunity to make his first start for the club since January 2019. The Englishman has already scored two goals this season, both of them while coming off the bench, and will also be looking to score once again.
WEST HAM UNITED – MICHAIL ANTONIO:
Michail Antonio has been one of the best players in the country so far this season. In five games, the striker has scored four goals and provided three assists. Given the problems that the pacey forward causes, his ban over the weekend was playfully celebrated by United fans. The Jamaican international scored a penalty at Old Trafford in July 2020, but another penalty drama is unlikely to overshadow the headlines this time.
The 31-year-old will be keen to seek revenge for his side in this fixture as West Ham aims to advance to the fourth round of the EFL Cup once again this season.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Heaton; Dalot, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; Van de Beek, Matic; Sancho, Mata, Lingard; Martial.
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Areola; Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Kral, Noble; Yarmolenko, Vlasic, Benrahma; Antonio.