Three days after renewing hostilities in the Premier League, Manchester United and West Ham United prepare for battle in the third round of the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men claimed a 2-1 win over the Hammers in the capital on Sunday, with none other than Jesse Lingard scoring the all-important winner.
It just had to be Jesse Lingard at the London Stadium. After propelling West Ham into the Europa League last term and ultimately staying put at Old Trafford despite heavy interest from David Moyes’s side, the England international ended West Ham’s unbeaten start to the league season with an 89th-minute effort.
Lingard’s winner came after Cristiano Ronaldo had levelled the scores following Said Benrahma’s opener, but Mr. reliable Mark Noble had a golden opportunity to salvage a point from the penalty spot with virtually the last kick of the game, but David de Gea kept out the veteran’s effort before being mobbed by his teammates and manager.
Bouncing back from their Champions League disappointment to Young Boys in ideal fashion, United have now taken 13 points from 15 on offer in the 2021-22 Premier League season, although they remain behind Chelsea and Liverpool on goal difference at this early stage.
The Red Devils have also chalked up nine goals in their two home victories over Newcastle United and Leeds United, although their last two defeats in the EFL Cup – both against Manchester City – came at Old Trafford in the semi-finals of 2019-20 and 2020-21.
While ending a five-year EFL Cup drought may be tempting to some, United’s incredibly daunting run in the league and Champions League will take precedence in the coming weeks, so West Ham’s prospects of avenging their weekend defeat are not all that unrealistic.
Hammers boss David Moyes insisted that he had no regrets about sending on Noble to take the last-gasp spot kick on Sunday, but the former Red Devils coach has now seen his side go three games without a win in the top flight.
West Ham picked up where they left off last term with an explosive start to the 2021-22 season – thrashing Newcastle United and Leicester City – while the European adventure also kicked off in ideal fashion with a 2-0 Europa League success against Dinamo Zagreb.
However, West Ham have only gleaned two points from their last three Premier League matches to drop to eighth in the rankings, although a trip to an under-performing Leeds United side could prove to be a prime opportunity to kickstart a revival of sorts.
The Hammers’ two most recent runs in the EFL Cup have seen them suffer crushing away defeats to Oxford United and Everton in the third and fourth rounds respectively, and they have failed to make it past round four since the 2017-18 campaign, where Arsenal sent them packing in the quarter-finals.
West Ham’s 2-1 defeat at the weekend represented their fourth consecutive defeat against the Red Devils in all competitions, and it has been 14 years since they last won at Old Trafford with that memorable Carlos Tevez winner on the final day of the 2006-07 Premier League season.
Manchester United form (all competitions):
West Ham United form (all competitions):
We say: Manchester United 2-2 West Ham United (Man United to win on penalties)
Man United and West Ham both have bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks, but the visitors will certainly be spurred on by the thought of revenge after Sunday’s dramatic defeat.
With fringe players on both sides seeking to stake their claims for regular starting roles, we can envisage an entertaining affair at Old Trafford, with the hosts relying on their penalty prowess to book their spot in round four.