Last Tuesday’s Premier League home victory over West Bromwich Albion meant that West Ham United had won their first four games of a calendar year for the first time since 1958. Now the question is can they avoid another fourth round exit from the Emirates FA Cup when Sky Bet League One outfit Doncaster Rovers arrive in Stratford on Saturday afternoon?
Were the hosts to achieve the desired outcome and progress, it will be the first time they have done so since the 2015/16 campaign and will set up a fifth round meeting against the winner of Sunday’s all Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Liverpool.
The Hammers made it through to this stage thanks to a late win over National League side Stockport County on 11 January and they will want another success here.
In recent years however, this round has not been very kind to them and they have suffered defeats to lower league sides including Wigan Athletic, AFC Wimbledon and of course last season’s exit to the Baggies who were then in the Sky Bet Championship. The Irons will be determined not to let Rovers mastermind a fourth successive cup shock.
Doncaster’s path to this round has seen them notch up routine wins against Northern Premier League Premier Division side FC United of Manchester and Sky Bet League Two outfit Carlisle United, while in the third round, they caused something of a upset by beating Championship club Blackburn Rovers.
David Moyes included a number of first-team regulars in a strong side against Jim Gannon’s Hatters in the last round but with another game against Crystal Palace to come on Tuesday, the Scot is likely to make a number of changes.
Darren Randolph is once again set to replace Łukasz Fabiański, while defenders Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson could miss out in favour of both Fabián Balbuena and Issa Diop, while Ben Johnson and Ryan Fredericks could also come in. January recruit Frederik Alves may be a surprise inclusion.
Manuel Lanzini started the encounter against Sam Allardyce’s men four days ago and he will be hoping to retain his place, though Pablo Fornals will be desperate to get back involved from the first whistle. Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble are also in contention.
Striker Ademipo Odubeko, who came off the bench at Edgeley Park may well be in line to make his full debut as a replacement for Michail Antonio if it is decided that he will be rested.
Just as last Saturday’s Premier League match against Burnley, the tie is a 3pm kick-off. The match has been selected for live television coverage and will be available via the BBC Red Button from 2:30pm. The referee is Robert Jones.