West Ham United haven’t played outside of London since the goalless draw at Burnley on December 12. On Saturday afternoon, the Hammers will look to end a truncated January fixture programme when they face a second trip of the season to Old Trafford, where they take on Manchester United.
Following this round of matches, the competition takes a mini break due to the way that this year’s Fifa international calendar has been constructed, plus FA Cup fourth round involvement.
The Irons suffered a narrow 3-2 Premier League home defeat to Leeds United last weekend but remained in fourth place and are hoping to bounce back in order to keep the pressure on.
David Moyes picked up his first win here since he was relieved of his duties as manager of the Red Devils back in 2014 when the East Londoners secured a Carabao Cup third round triumph back on 22 September, just three days after Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side inflicted the first top-flight reverse of the campaign in Stratford.
After some poor results following that cup exit, Solskjær was sacked on 19 November and Manchester United are now under the stewardship of interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
The hosts can do the league double over West Ham if they win here. Given that they are just two points behind their visitors, if they were to collect all three points, then they would overtake them in the table.
The visitors were without a fixture since their last outing so have had a full six days since last Sunday to prepare for whatever awaits them here, whereas the home side had to travel to West London this week to face newly-promoted Brentford.
Moyes’ side will arrive in Manchester for the team’s first 3pm kick-off since the 4-1 victory at newly-promoted Watford back on 28 December but this will be their first weekend match to kick-off at this time since the 3-2 home defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day.
Moyes will be hoping that Tomáš Souček and Mark Noble will be available to be involved again, although having scored against Marcelo Bielsa’s men last weekend, Pablo Fornals won’t want to be dropped to the bench. Kurt Zouma may be considered for selection after resuming full training following his hamstring tendon injury suffered against Chelsea back on 4 December.
Nikola Vlašić will fill in at least one more time for Saïd Benrahma, as the Algerian is yet to return from the African Nations Cup.
As he has been for the two previous meetings between the clubs this season, Jonathan Moss will also be in charge of this encounter.