After a ten day break following their victory at Everton in the Premier League, West Ham United’s attention now turns to the start of their run in this season’s FA Cup. The Irons will be hoping to avoid a potential banana skin as they travel to Edgeley Park to face the challenge of Vanarama National League side Stockport County in a third round tie tonight.
The Hammers are of course favourites to book a fourth round place and should this be achieved, they will hope to avoid another early exit as they have fallen at that particular hurdle in the last three seasons under the stewardship of both Manuel Pellegrini, as well as current manager David Moyes.
After an away success against Sky Bet League One side Gillingham at this stage last season, the Hammers suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat to former manager Slaven Bilic and his promotion chasing West Bromwich Albion side. Moyes will certainly be hoping for better luck this time around as he aims to take the East Londoners further in the competition.
Stockport have progressed to this stage after they were initially knocked out of the competition by fellow non-league side Chesterfield in the fourth-qualifying round, only for them to be reinstated after it was later discovered that their opponents had fielded an ineligible player.
Jim Gannon’s side eventually recorded victory in the rearranged game by coming through a penalty shootout before conquering higher calibre opposition in Rochdale in round one before cementing their place at this stage, as they edged a tight encounter against Yeovil Town.
Moyes hinted in Saturday’s pre-match news conference ahead of the game that he will name a strong starting line-up but is likely to make changes to the side that claimed three valuable points at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day.
It’s a straight fight between Darren Randolph and David Martin as to who will take the goalkeeper’s gloves, provided Łukasz Fabiański is given more time to recover from the thigh injury he sustained before kick-off against the Toffees, while Issa Diop and Fabián Balbuena may form a partnership in defence.
Watford have allowed Craig Dawson to be included and the same goes for Brentford loanee Saïd Benrahma.
Andriy Yarmolenko may start upfront, due to the sale of Sébastien Haller to Dutch outfit Ajax on Friday although Michail Antonio will be pushing for a start, as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Mark Noble and Manuel Lanzini are options for midfield spots.
West Ham will find out their potential opponents for both the fourth and fifth rounds when the draw is made before the game, as coverage is being screened by BT Sport from 7pm with kick-off at 8pm. The referee is Mike Dean.