Despite Manchester United leading the Premier League by seven points and still going strong in the Champions League, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his determination to end the club’s baron run in the FA Cup.
You have to go back to 2004 to when United lifted the last of their record tally of 11 FA Cups and Ferguson is hopeful of navigating his way to another trip to Wembley.
“The cup is a tournament where form doesn’t necessarily win games,” he said, according to Manchester United’s official website. “Luck has a lot to do with it.
“We got to the semi-final against City but we’ve had some hard draws – twice away to Liverpool, away to City and a home tie with Leeds, when I rested a few players and we were caught short.
“But I think with a club like ours, the closer we get to Wembley, the better we become.”
United have been handed another tough draw as they face a third-round tie away at fellow Premier League outfit West Ham. United have often paid the price for over rotation in the FA Cup and Ferguson has suggested that he will not take too many risks at Upton Park.
“It’s a particularly hard one as they’re in good form and at home,” Ferguson explained. “Sam [Allardyce] has done a great job there, getting them promoted first of all, and their form has been good with some excellent results.
“So it’s going to be a tough game and I don’t think we’ll make too many changes. I think, more or less, we’ll play a strong team and hopefully we’ll get through.”
Ferguson will be unable to call upon the services of Wayne Rooney, with the forward set to miss another two weeks with a knee injury. Nani and Anderson also remain out.
Based upon their strong home form, West Ham look comfortable in mid table on their first season back in the Premier League. Allardyce will be without key men Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame for the visit of United, though, as the pair continue to be sidelined through injury.
There could well be a place in the squad for Joe Cole after the attacking midfielder completed his return to West Ham from Liverpool on Friday. Loan signing Marouane Chamakh did not join in time from Arsenal to be registered.
West Ham (probable)
D: Demel, Tomkins, Reid, O’Brien
M: Collison, Noble
Vaz Te, Nolan, Taylor
Manchester United (probable)
D: Jones, Smalling, Evans, Evra
M: Cleverley, Scholes
Valencia, Kagawa, Welbeck
Prediction: Much of the outcome of this tie could depend on the team selections of both managers. United have been in far the better form of late, but, especially if Ferguson rotates his defense, West Ham have a chance of earning a replay.
West Ham 1-1 Manchester United
Where to watch: The FA Cup third round tie will kick-off at 12.15 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox, with a delayed online stream available from 3 p.m. on Fox Soccer 2Go.