Illness meant I had to give up my ticket for todays game, but watching it on the telly allows me a better blog, if albeit a little disjointed.
So just after Xmas, JC makes his appearance at Upton Park. Joe Cole make his return the the club that taught him his craft. This time though he is a WHU player meaning if he scores, its not so much of an issue this time!
Man U are Rooneyless today, and my condolences go out to Coleen on losing her younger sister thus weekend. However with RVP on the bench and Hernandez and Wellbeck starting they obviously fancy their chances. Vidic comes back in, and Scholes gets a rare start. Fergie has picked a strong team, and i feel they are the slight favourites.
Dan Potts and Joe Cole go straight into the team. Dan was a solid player when required last year and hopefully will be the same this term. JC could be the difference for a mostly flat looking WHU midfield. Nolan and Collins return from suspension today, meaning no starts for Joey O’Brien, scorer of the winner earlier in the week or Mark Noble, the other scorer in the game against Norwich. Collison and Diarra have also come in to the starting line up, suggesting Sam’s not that fussed regarding the tie, but does need players getting game time. However the fans will demand a decent display.
One bit of interest for me, is whether Vaz Te turns up or bottles against stronger players.
We get underway, and the opening exchanges are all Man U, with WHU getting their first kick after Jussi comes out to collect a pass (1.35 mins). Not looking great for WHU. After 5 mins they have not had a meaningful touch of the ball, suggesting the Hammers might get some sort of hiding here. Hernandez should of scored on 8.30 after a good cross from Smalling following an excellent cross ball from Scholes.
Vidic makes a massive save with an intercepting header from CC after a rare WHU attack led to a corner. After the first 10 minutes the game starts to open, and Jack Collison tries his chances from 30 yrds, just going over.
Just before the 20 minute mark, Dan Potts makes a classic goal line clearance from a Man U corner. That will do his confidence no harm at all. On 22 Man U open the scoring as expected, with a good cross from Hernandez finding Cleverly on his own to take an easy finish. Paul Scholes gets a booking just after for his 2nd cynical challenge of the game.
On 26 minutes Joe Cole crosses in an innocuous ball post a free kick, and finds James Collins who nods in well past De Gea to equalise. No one more surprised than me !! One one. JC has seemed to move over to the right, and swapped with Vaz Te and seems to be getting purchase.
Vidic is lucky not to give away a pen with a shove on Nolan just after the half hour mark. On 35 Danny Wellbeck makes a great breakaway post a WHU corner only to shoot straight into Jussi. Collison picks up a yellow for a Scholesesqe challenge on Rafael.
As the game winds up towards half time Utd are still on top but not to the level they were early on. One observation is Smalling doesn’t look to confortable at right back, he has knocked a forward pass out for a throw or goal kick three or four times. Just on half time CC powers through Vidic to pass to JC but just puts its behind him.
The 2nd half starts as you would expect, but with not a lot happening. On 56 CC goes close from another JC cross. Then on 59 JC throws in another great cross for Collins .2-1 WHU, well well.
First sub is made on 60 with Jarvis coming on for RVT. Question really is how long before Van Persie comes on for Utd. The answer is about 7 minutes when he comes on with Valencia, for Hernandez and Scholes.
On 72 Diarra comes off for Mark Noble. Hopefully he can sure up the middle of the park. The game goes a bit cold if I’m honest and Giggs comes on at 77. Joe Cole leaves the field at the same time to a standing ovation.
Back to back corners for utd on 80 were dealt with but you could tell WHU were getting more edgy. Matt Jarvis made a good run past Vidic, and encouraged a yellow card from the Utd skipper.
On 87 CC went so close after Nobes cushioned the ball back into Matt Taylor who moved it on to CC. Just as we head into Fergie time, up pops Van Persie as expected, to equalise after a great ball from Giggs.
Roll on a week for a replay at Old Trafford. United to go through. WHU had their chance today.
MOTM: Joe Cole was superb, CC played his arse off. Potts was magnificent. But James Collins scored 2 important goals for the hammers, so it goes to him. For Utd, Vidic was great against Cole all day, but his bit of madness on Jarvis took the edge off.