Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
Tuesday, 9th February 2021
by Chris Wilkerson
After 120 battling minutes, West Ham's FA Cup journey was over for another year after Manchester United sneaked an extra-time winner and Moyes' much-disrupted side were beaten 1-0.West Ham lost three players to injury during the game, to join Michail Antonio on the sidelines who couldn?EUR(TM)t make the squad.
It leaves the Hammers out of the cup once more, this time at the fifth round stage, and with serious concerns about their small squad. Yarmolenko, Ogbonna and Diop were all forced off the pitch, and in the end the manager was forced to use six substitutes, two replacing players he had formerly brought onto the pitch.
The team started as it meant to go on, the plan clearly to defend with their lives and see what shocks they could muster at the other end. Noble, Fornals and Yarmolenko came in for Lingard, Benrahma and Antonio respectively, but any semblance of a strategy was thrown out of the window by injuries first to Ogbonna, then later to his replacement Diop who became the first player withdrawn for a concussion substitute in English football, and then later to Yarmolenko up front ?EUR" although the Ukrainian had looked lost as a striker.
Ogbonna was injured making a fantastic challenge to block what was an excellent chance for Anthony Martial. His swing at the ball saw the momentum of his strike force his studs down onto the ankle of Ogbonna. The defender walked gingerly off himself without support, but as a player having another extraordinary season, any time injured is too long for the team.
It was already and only further became a game of attack versus defence, Solskjaer?EUR(TM)s side tasked with breaking down the wall of defence and midfield in front of goal.
Their best chance of the first half, their only real chance, came from a corner. The ball was aimed at but went over Maguire, only to be met by Lindelof. His header cannoned off Dawson and diverted in the opposite direction of its original trajectory. As it looked to be bouncing in, Fabianski clawed it away, stretching with every sinew and doing just enough to keep his side level.
In a game no neutral was enjoying, the half ended with little incident more, although Martial and Diop heading each other whilst challenging for the ball did eventually see the French defender taken off after examination at half time. Others will have noted Mark Noble desperately shoving Van de Beek to the floor in an attempt to stop a quick throw, a highlight for those of us who like that sort of thing.
The Hammers came out from the break with two new substitutes ready. Ryan Fredericks and Ben Johnson came on for Bowen and Diop to change the shape of the side; both men improved the team considerably.
Yarmolenko soon joined the overworked medics as another injury forced a change, young Mipo Odubeko getting a chance to impress.
West Ham improved dramatically, even if it was not enough to really cause any excitement or many chances. It was just the willingness and confidence to pass the ball and build attacks, something that seemed beyond them in the opening 45 minutes.
That being said, Marcus Rashford was soon frustrated to waste a massive opportunity to split the teams. A cross from the right deflected over West Ham?EUR(TM)s defenders and left Rashford one-on-one with Fabianski, but the Pole rushed from his line in lightning fashion to close the space and block the shot that should have separated the sides.
Aside from an arm in the face from Martial to Coufal that will have got Mike Dean waving cards around in his living room, there was very little to raise anyone of their seats.
That was until the 91st minute. A Noble corner floated above defensive heads and found Dawson unmarked in the six yard box. He got up to meet it but his connection was glancing, the ball diverting wide of the goal and deflected away. He should have scored.
Instead it went to extra time, and players that were clearly tired to exhaustion kept fighting on, kept going. It was the two who work the hardest, the two who play the most, that eventually found tired mistakes that were punished.
First was Rice, pushing forward to just outside the Manchester United area. He took a heavy touch, uncharacteristically so, and was robbed of the ball. The home side broke with pace, a cross was eventually driven across goal and it flicked up off a defender into the air.
Soucek tried to head clear, but headed down and to the side, the ball staying in the area. Rashford reacted first, knocking it perfectly into McTominay?EUR(TM)s path and the Scot poked it in with power and right in his stride, giving Fabianski no time to react and nestling the winner.
Any energy sapped from the game, West Ham broken, Manchester United now able to slow it down and just play for possession.
The Hammers couldn?EUR(TM)t keep the ball, couldn?EUR(TM)t muster up any last threat, even bringing on a sixth substitute as Lanzini replaced Odubeko. One can only hope the manager and his staff know his character well; it was a slightly unnecessary substitution that could hurt him. He may have been quiet, but he was more lively than Yarmolenko and supplied with nothing.
It was a painful end to another year of cup football, and one that will hurt those of us who value the cup much more than league positions and fleeting dalliances with the top four.
The players fought, that much was clear, but with fatigue, no striker and more injuries piling up, it was a step too many.
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Player RatingsLukasz Fabianski
Two wonderful saves in a game with very few chances. Outstanding on both. No chance with the goal.
Did a good job at right back and then did well in the right slot of a middle three. Solid, no glamour, didn?EUR(TM)t get forward to attack often. Kept Rashford quiet.
Stood up well defensively in both positions, including one absolutely fantastic block in the first half whilst Diop was preparing to replace Ogbonna. Some dangerous crosses but there was little going on in the box.
Dawson was excellent, making tackles, blocks, interceptions and adapting to lead a defence where of the five of them, four were full backs. Had he scored the header, we?EUR(TM)d be through and he would have gone into folklore.
Scary to have lost such an influential player. Mad to think Soucek got a red card at the weekend and Martial got a shrug.
That heavy touch is being focused on, but it was extra time, Rice has played every minute in the league and the squad had been decimated by injury. He was excellent defensively, a little bit too leggy to make many darting runs and it is madness to think we have so few central midfielders at the club but could play four full backs in this game, with another one injured.
I look forward to the angry online mob trying to blame defeat on Noble. Dovetailed well positionally with Soucek and Rice, got about and always a man to turn to in a battle. His cross was the one Dawson should have scored, and he pressed well in their half when needed too.
Up and down that pitch all day, lord knows where he finds the energy reserves. He was a little further forward than usual in the second half, and whilst it makes sense, he may be less dangerous when he?EUR(TM)s not ghosting in as a second option.
The lad either needs a break or a change of impetus. One time he got behind Telles, the full back got around and tackled him with ease. Not sure what Yarmolenko is bringing up front that Bowen couldn?EUR(TM)t, plus he might have the energy to sprint past defenders if he wasn?EUR(TM)t also an auxiliary full back.
Worked hard, as standard, but a couple of times he picked passes poorly when he had great opportunities to create. He had an eagerness to bring inventive and progressive passing in the second half, playing with more freedom through the middle, in a way that others were ignoring, choosing to play safe. But the big moments are where he fell.
He was offered nothing, really, and whilst we improved in the second half, he then got forced off. Not sure he has the physicality to be a striker and he doesn?EUR(TM)t have the pace to threaten, so it appears to be built on the fact he has a good scoring record.
(Replaced Ogbonna, 17) The 30 minutes he got was actually quite good. He made a few important tackles, blocks and interceptions. Then he smashed his head into Martial and had to go off.
(Replaced Diop, 45) He showed a confidence and ease on the ball that has not been on show from him before. He looked comfortable running players and didn?EUR(TM)t just play safe and easy passes. It was a game where he looked a real talent on the ball, and one that gives hope he really will be a future West Ham starter.
(Replaced Bowen, 45) Threatened more than Bowen, put in some dangerous crosses and his speed made him a threat to Telles and then Shaw.
(Replaced Yarmolenko, 54) He came on and was eager, but looked a little timid. Whilst the BBC criticised him for not having an impact, he had double the passes Yarmolenko had and played five minutes more. Harsh to be hooked, we had four full backs on and took a striker off when we needed a goal.
(Replaced Fornals, 88) Nice touches at times but there was no end product.
(Replaced Odubeko, 112) Had a few touches, but it was a desperate substitution with little plan and he came into a game that was basically dead.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko.
Sent off: None.
Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka (Williams 91), Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 91), Matic (McTominay 73), Fred, Greenwood (Cavani 86), van de Beek (Fernandes 73), Rashford, Martial.
Subs not used: Grant, Tuanzebe, James, Diallo.
Goals: McTominay (97).
Sent off: None.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
Man of the Match: Lukasz Fabianski.