Can West Ham match Carling Cup exploits against Manchester United?
The Hammers go into Saturday’s clash with the league leaders in form and believing they can get three points.
It is a popular misconception that West Ham’s 4-0 Carling Cup drubbing of Manchester United in the November snow was achieved against a reserve team.
Certainly not all the United stars were there, but they did field John O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez on that fateful and frankly hilarious night.
This Saturday, United may be forced to field a team not unlike the one that crashed at Upton Park.
Their defence is decimated with Michael Carrick likely to partner Smalling in the middle, while with Paul Scholes suspended and Owen Hargreaves suffering more injuries than Kieron Dyer, it will be an inexperienced midfield as well.
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Mind you, Carrick was drafted in as an emergency centre back last season at Upton Park and that had no adverse affect as United cruised to a 4-0 victory.
Earlier in the campaign, the 3-0 victory at Old Trafford was perhaps even easier, while it is four years since West Ham last beat United in the league at home, thanks to goals from Anton Ferdinand and Matty Upson in a 2-1 win.
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Let’s stay on the positive side. United may be top of the table, but they must be the most unconvincing leaders the Premier League has seen for many a season.
They have won just four league games on their travels – at Stoke, West Brom, Blackpool and last time Wigan – while they have won just one of their last five matches away from home in all competitions.
They still have the firepower to blow West Ham away if the Hammers are not on top of their game.
Dimitar Berbatov has 20 league goals already this season, with Wayne Rooney and Nani grabbing 10 apiece in all competitions, but it is Javier Hernandez who has made the biggest impression.
While West Ham’s Mexican, Pablo Barrera has struggled to adapt to the Premier League, Hernandez has been a revelation.
He has 16 goals to his name, including five in his last six games, and he even added two for his country on Saturday.
He will not return to England until Friday so a place on the bench may be his best option, but he has certainly made an impression as a substitute before and that makes him the one to watch.
United are still a force to be reckoned with, but West Ham may not have a better chance to send them packing.
Possible team: Van der Sar, Fabio, Evra, Smalling, Carrick, Valencia, Gibson, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov.
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