West Ham United will welcome Leeds United to the London Stadium for their third round tie in the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.

It is an all-Premier League affair on Sunday afternoon as West Ham United play hosts to Leeds United in the third round of the FA Cup. It is difficult to see the competition as a top priority for either side. West Ham are striving for a top-four finish on both the domestic and European fronts, while an injury-ravaged Leeds are still facing relegation concerns.

The Hammers went through a rough patch before bagging consecutive morale-boosting victories over Watford and Crystal Palace. The result means West Ham’s pursuit for a top-four spot is back on track, with the capital club now sitting fifth in the table. David Moyes’s men now turn their attention towards the FA Cup, a competition in which they have struggled in recent years, failing to move past the fourth round in five of the last six seasons.

Leeds, meanwhile, will make the trip south to Stratford off the back of a solid 3-1 win over Burnley that moved them eight points clear of the drop zone. Marcelo Bielsa’s men were torn apart in recent weeks by the Premier League heavyweights but have bounced back to earn themselves some breathing space above the relegation spots.

This will be just the third meeting between the two clubs in the FA Cup, and the first in over 92 years, with the Hammers winning a fourth-round tie 4-1 back in January 1930. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides at the London Stadium, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

West Ham United

West Ham United will be without the services of winger Said Benrahma, who has joined up with Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations, while the first-choice centre-back duo Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna remain sidelined through long-term injuries. Pablo Fornals and Aaron Cresswell are also major doubts.

Fresh from signing a contract extension with the club, Michail Antonio will be eager to start here, but his worrying injury history may prompt David Moyes to take caution in cup games. Fringe players such as Alphonse Areola, Ryan Fredericks, and Andriy Yarmolenko will all get starts in this cup tie.

Moyes could opt to go with the 4-2-3-1 formation and is expected to make wholesale changes for this tie, with one eye on Wednesday’s rearranged Premier League game against Norwich City, which could include a return to the starting XI for skipper Mark Noble. Jamal Baptiste, Manny Longelo, Aji Alese and Harrison Ashby could all be in contention for featuring here should Moyes hand the youngsters a chance to impress.

Areola will feature in between the sticks for the Hammers. Guarding the French shot-stopper in central defence will be the pairing of Issa Diop and Craig Dawson. Fredericks will be handed a chance to impress at right-back while Ben Johnson fills in on the other flank as the left-back.

Alex Kral and Noble will form the midfield double pivot and look to control proceedings from the middle of the pitch. Andriy Yarmolenko, Nikola Vlasic and Arthur Masuaku will seek to give a good account of themselves in the attacking third, while Jarrod Bowen will spearhead the Hammers’ attack as a false nine, with his intelligent movement a menace for the opposition defenders.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Areola; Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Johnson; Kral, Noble; Yarmolenko, Vlasic, Masuaku; Bowen

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Leeds United

Leeds United’s injury troubles have been well-documented this season, and it appears the medical room is not emptying anytime soon. Tyler Roberts and Joe Gelhardt are the latest to have entered the treatment room, taking the count of players missing through injuries into double-figures.

Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper are expected to remain sidelined until March, while the other long-term absentees include Rodrigo Moreno, Pascal Struijk, Charlie Cresswell, and Jamie Shackleton. Patrick Bamford is approaching a return from his most recent injury, but he may not be risked here from the start in this cup game.

Bielsa has bigger fish to fry than the FA Cup and will be wary of picking up further injuries against West Ham. However, he will not want to lose vital momentum after the Burnley win. Moreover, Leeds do not have much depth to reshuffle the pack right now.

Marcelo Bielsa could line the Peacocks up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and hand a chance to several academy youngsters. Illan Meslier will be a certainty in goal for the Whites. Luke Ayling will play alongside Diego Llorente at the heart of the Leeds backline as they try to keep things solid at the back, while Cody Drameh and Junior Firpo could come in at the right-back and left-back slots, respectively.

Adam Forshaw will act as the midfield lynchpin and aim for effective distribution while shielding the back-four. The experienced midfielder will have support from Stuart Dallas, who will also look to push forward at every opportunity and support the attackers.

After an impressive hat-trick for the under-23 side, Crysencio Summerville may be given a deserved shot on the left side of the attacking three alongside Mateusz Klich and Daniel James. Tyler Roberts came off injured against Burnley, which opens the door for 19-year-old Sam Greenwood to play in the striker role.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Drameh, Ayling, Llorente, Firpo; Dallas, Forshaw; Summerville, Klich, James; Greenwood

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Key Stats

  • This is the first FA Cup meeting between West Ham and Leeds United since January 1930.
  • West Ham have emerged victorious from each of the last three meetings between the two sides across all competitions.
  • Leeds enter this cup tie with only one win away from Elland Road all season.
  • Leeds have lost each of their past five FA Cup games and have exited at this stage of the competition in all four of their previous FA Cup seasons.
  • The Hammers have only won once in their 19 FA Cup games against fellow Premier League sides (D8 L10), defeating Liverpool 2-1 in February 2016.
  • Leeds has advanced past two of their last 15 FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents, last winning against Tottenham in 2013.

Player to Watch

Jarrod Bowen

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The 25-year-old is enjoying quite the season and has established himself as a key player for West Ham under David Moyes. With  five goals and ten assists for the Irons across all competitions, he is one of the major driving forces behind a West Ham side competing on multiple fronts this season.

With West Ham operating without any real backup to primary striker Michail Antonio, Bowen’s versatility and creativity have often come in handy for Moyes in a false nine role. The English attacker will again be hoping to produce impactful contributions in this cup tie.

Prediction

West Ham United 2-1 Leeds United

There are high chances that both sides will field heavily rotated lineups. Still, two great FA Cup sides going head-to-head in this year’s edition should provide an interesting spectacle. The emphasis for the Hammers will be the upcoming Premier League games, but a cup run will also be an intriguing prospect to a club that has not won a major trophy since their FA Cup triumph in 1980.

Even with the changes, the hosts will most probably create a decent number of chances and take more successful shots on target than Leeds United, who will struggle without their key players. The Hard Tackle predicts West Ham to emerge victorious with a narrow 2-1 win to progress into the next round of the competition.

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