Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United will head to London on Sunday to face West Ham United in the third round of the FA Cup.
The Whites would like to progress further in the FA Cup to boost their confidence in the new year, especially as their Premier League fortunes look bleak in the season.
David Moyes’ side, on the other hand, are closely trailing Arsenal in the Premier League and would like to better their performance from last year when they succumbed to Manchester United in the fifth round.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s FA Cup fixture between West Ham United and Leeds United.
WEST HAM UNITED
West Ham have progressed beyond the third round of the FA Cup for four successive years in a row, with their fortunes in domestic football on a steady climb over the years. Their Premier League season has been a mix of brilliant performances and missed opportunities.
David Moyes’ men have won 10 of their 20 fixtures in the league, netting 34 points so far. They are just one point behind Arsenal in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot, but their Europa League spot is under threat from a resurgent Tottenham and Manchester United.
West Ham have already qualified to the Round of 16 in the Europa League and are currently one of the favourites to win the continental tournament. While they lost to Tottenham in the EFL Cup quarter-finals last month, they will be heading into the fixture with confidence on the back of victories over Watford and Crystal Palace last week.
Despite their successes, the Hammers have kept just one clean sheet in their last 11 games. Goals also have been hard to come by for the Hammers, averaging just 1.7 goals during the season.
Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell, and Angelo Ogbonna will be sidelined against Leeds due to their respective injuries, while Pablo Fornals is suffering from COVID-19. David Moyes is likely to continue with his 4-2-3-1 lineup, with Michael Antonio, Manuel Lanzini, and Jarrod Bowen leading the attack.
Leeds United are having a rough second season in the Premier League with just four victories in their last 19 fixtures. While they are eight points clear of the relegation zone, it still has been a fall from grace for Marcelo Bielsa’s men who stunned the top-flight of English football with their dynamic and fluid style of play last season.
A 7-0 defeat to Manchester City last month has dented their spirits, followed by a Coronavirus outbreakamong their squad that saw five new cases within the Whites’ first-team squad.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men had a splendid start to the new year as they defeated Burnley 3-1 at home. They will need to continue the momentum into the FA Cup as their FA Cup record is poor. They have crashed out of the third round in six of the last eight years, with five of those defeats coming from sides ranked lower than the Whites.
Liam Cooper, Charlie Cresswell, Pascal Struijk, Kalvin Phillips, and Rodrigo are all likely to miss the game with injuries. The attack once again will be led by Tyler Roberts, Jack Harrison, and Raphinha, with Marcelo Bielsa likely to continue with his 3-4-3 setup for the game.
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the first meeting between Leeds United and West Ham in the FA Cup since 1930. Of the 107 encounters between both sides, the Hammers emerged victorious in 30 matches. The Whites hold the upper hand with 48 victories, while a further 29 fixtures have ended in a draw.
But Leeds United’s recent form against West Ham has been poor, with three of the last five games across all competitions going the way of the Hammers.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Despite the gap in talent between both sides, the attacking nature of Marcelo Bielsa’s squad should never be underestimated. The knockout format of the game makes the fixture highly competitive and both sides are expected to find the back of the net at least once in the game. But David Moyes’ men hold a slight advantage and are likely to come out on top unless Marcelo Bielsa tweaks his strategies to throw up surprises like last season.
Expect a hotly-contested match with an equal chance of winning for both sides.
West Ham United Predicted XI: Lukasz Fabianski, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Issa Diop, Ben Johnson, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Jarrod Bowen, Manuel Lanzini, Said Benrahma, Michail Antonio.
Leeds United Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich, Adam Forshaw, Junior Firpo, Raphinha, Tyler Roberts, Jack Harrison.
When: Sunday, 9th January, 7:30 PM IST
Where: London Stadium
Where to Watch: All FA Cup fixtures will be featured on SonyLiv. Select matches will be telecasted live on Sony Ten and Sony Six Channels.
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