Manchester United’s trip to West Ham may be the FA Cup third round’s most mouth-watering fixture, but the Londoners may have to brick up their goal if they are to keep the free-scoring Reds out.
The Premier League leaders travel to Upton Park for one of three clashes between top-flight teams in the competition on Saturday and will be hoping to extend their fine run of form.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men scooped ten points in four festive ties, netting 11 times in the process, and Hammers’ midfielder Mark Noble is rallying his teammates to pull together and dilute United’s potent frontline.
“It is anyone’s guess how you stop them, with the service which goes up to Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, the players they have, they are brilliant,” said the 25-year-old.
“We might have to build a wall in front of our goal, I don’t know – but it will be a great night and we are all looking forwards to it.
“This is the FA Cup and anything can happen.”
Van Persie scored the fastest goal of the Premier League season, just 32 seconds, when the Hammers travelled to Old Trafford in November.
But Sam Allardyce’s men edged out Norwich in a thrilling 2-1 New Year’s Day tie and continued to hold their place in the middle of the table.
And Noble knows that victory over United could spur on their season and help them push further up the league.
“Our main aim obviously is to stay mid-table in the league, but when you play Manchester United at home in the FA Cup, you get that extra edge and buzz, and we are going to want to win,” he added.
“It will be a great occasion for everyone.”
Sir Alex revealed that he would be rotating his squad for the journey south in order to give his first-team regulars chance to recover from the packed winter fixture list – and also allow his youngsters to garner experience.
“We’ll make a few changes for the cup tie,” the Scot told MUTV. “Obviously, the likes of Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick probably deserve a break.
“They’ve been playing all the games so we’ll have a look at the situation.”
Shinji Kagawa is set to continue his return from injury while midfielder Tom Cleverley and Evra’s understudy Alex Buttner are expected to slot into the team.