Tag Archives: West Ham

Exclusive – Nigel Winterburn on David Moyes, West Ham in Europe and Ben Johnson

Former Arsenal and West Ham left-back Nigel Winterburn believes the Hammers have an “unbelievable chance” of being successful in Europe this season under David Moyes.

Winterburn sat down with FreeSuperTips recently and Tap Ins & Tap Outs were able to ask him some questions exclusively surrounding West Ham, and spoke about their run in Europe so far this season and the development of young defender Ben Johnson.

A big thank you to FreeSuperTips for this opportunity.


Winterburn is a legendary left-back, who part of the famous Arsenal back-four that made winning 1-0 so popular it became a chant attached to the club’s fan base.

Capped twice by England’s senior team, Winterburn spent 13 years at Highbury before a short trip across London where he joined the Hammers for three seasons.

He is well aware of the fan-base at Upton Park and the London Stadium’s expectations around the cup. Despite the lofty heights they’ve reached under manager David Moyes recently though, Winterburn says that isn’t a surprise to him and believes they could achieve real success in Europe this season.

Nigel Winterburn of West Ham United running with the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between West Ham United and Fulham held on...

“I think they have an unbelievable chance in this competition,” he said.

“They’ve swept through the group, yes there’s Champions League teams coming down, but I don’t think West Ham at this minute in time are going to worry about whoever they play.

They won’t be favourites for the competition, but I don’t think they’ll be far away. People might say there’s a lack of experience, but they’re there because they’re good enough.

“I think there will be more teams afraid of playing West Ham, or David Moyes looking at teams and looking to avoid them. I would suggest it’s the other way round and teams will be thinking they don’t want to play West Ham at this minute in time.

Last season and this season they’ve been on an absolute roll.

Said Benrahma celebrates with teammates Declan Rice, Aaron Cresswell and Issa Diop of West Ham United United after scoring their team's second goal...

Part of the reason for the club’s success has been the performances of the defence, part of which has been made up of young Ben Johnson this year.

The 21-year-old has featured in 12 games so far this season for the Hammers and had made the left wing-back spot his own until a recent injury.

Winterburn said his rise to prominence in the first-team reminds him of Bukayo Saka at Arsenal and his form has made Moyes’ decision to pick him much easier.

“I think he’s done well, but it’s all about progression, getting game time and playing at a level where you’re asking the manager to make a decision to leave you out of the team.

“It’s similar to Saka at Arsenal, he was playing at such a level that wherever he played he couldn’t be dropped.

Ben Johnson of West Ham United celebrates scoring their 3rd goal during the pre-season friendly between Reading and West Ham United at Madejski...

“The fans pick up on these things, the player might be young but if he’s playing well you can’t leave them out. That’s what will happen at West Ham, they’ll get opportunities these younger players because they’re good enough technically.

“It’s how they react mentally in front of those supporters and some players thrive on it whilst others find it difficult. We’ll find out when he gets more game time whether he can be a regular or in and out of the team. It’s what professional football is all about, making a name for yourself and it’s the best job in the world.

If he continues to play well it’ll put pressure on the manager to leave him out and that’s how all young players should view it.


How Dele Alli can revive his dwindling career in January

There was a period in time where Dele Alli was one of the most feared goalscoring midfielders in the country, but that time has long gone.

Dele is currently a bit part player at best for Tottenham after losing that goalscoring touch, and reports suggest he is now likely to leave the club in January either on loan or permanently.

But how can the former England star reignite the flame on his dwindling career? There are a few clubs that could provide the platform for him to do it.



Newcastle United

This seems to be the consensus among many, but Newcastle could do with someone of the profile of Dele and Dele could do with a brand new environment.

Newcastle are in a relegation battle but have got the funds for January to be able to completely turn their fortunes around. Dele would likely come on considerable wages, but if Eddie Howe can get the best out of him once more he could be huge for their season.

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli and Newcastle United's Jamaal Lascelles during the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle...

With Callum Wilson the club’s only real source for goals, Dele would be given the chance to re-find his taste for the back of the net and the fans would absolutely adore him from the first minute he pulled the shirt on.

Everton

Another team that is desperate for new blood is Rafa Benitez’s Everton side, who have just one win in their last ten Premier League games.

Injuries have plagued them, especially in forward areas, and they have scored only 20 goals in 16 games so far this season. Dele will be seen by any potential signings as a source for goals despite his poor record in recent years, but they know that it is there to be unlocked once again.

Richarlison of Everton challenges for the ball with Dele Alli during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison...

Some fresh blood would be good for them and a potential loan deal would suit all parties, with Rafa Benitez having a natural option to play in the number ten role he likes using.

West Ham

It worked for Jesse Lingard, so why not Dele?

The Hammers are in the hunt for a top four place once again this season, currently occupying the position in the league table as we approach the halfway point of the season.

Jesse Lingard of England celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the International Friendly match between England and United States at...

Last year the arrival of Lingard gave the whole club a boost and his goals and form pushed them to a Europa League spot and revived his career to the point where he got back in the England squad and Manchester United opted to keep him around in the summer.

Dele could have a similar effect in a new squad with great spirit and a style of play that suits him. The rivalry between the clubs could see a deal never materialise, especially with Spurs hopeful of top four themselves, but it could be the perfect move for Dele.

WSL Matchday 6 Report – Arsenal still flying, Reading dominant whilst United hit a block

We are already into match day six of the 2021/22 Women’s Super League season and so far, other than the injury-stricken start to the season that Manchester City are having, we are yet to see many upsets to the other components of the ‘Big Three’.

Whilst City have dropped numerous points to opposition that they previously would have comfortably beaten, Arsenal have been completely dominant – yet to drop a single point in the WSL so far, and only conceding two goals in the first game of the season against reigning champions Chelsea.

Meanwhile Tottenham, who in the previous season found themselves in a relegation battle, have enjoyed a great start with four wins out of the first five games.

Week six brought us some matchups that saw teams that we could expect to finish in and around that fourth spot – with Manchester United taking on Spurs while Everton and Brighton faced off. Here’s what happened.



Aston Villa 0-1 Chelsea

Ever the embodiment of a Carla Ward side, Aston Villa presented a difficult entity for Chelsea to breakdown.

As expected Chelsea absolutely dominated the ball, having 76 percent possession and boasting 16 shots in the game, despite Emma Hayes heavily rotating her starting lineup.

Within this, a rare start for the talented Canadian starlet Jessie Fleming – who went on to score the eventual winner; scoring a neat and composed finish following a great pick out from Ji.

The defensive set-up from Villa definitely did its job in frustrating Chelsea, but the quality that they possess – even when they rotate – is clear to see.

Everton 0-1 Brighton

Following the managerial change that happened at Everton after the sacking of Willie Kirk, I was interested to see how they’d look against a well drilled side in Brighton who like Tottenham, have enjoyed a good start to this new season.

New Everton manager Jean-Luc Vasseur attempted to provide some stability to his new squad by keeping the same starting XI as the midweek cup match, and someone who benefited from this was Kenza Dali, who again looked like a bright spot in the Everton team.

Despite this, it was Brighton that were able to score the winner in the second half, after Danielle Carter played in Aileen Whelan – a win that puts them fourth in the table as it stands.

Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United

As a United fan assessing the opposition before the game, I was aware that Tottenham were going to be narrow and compact – a problem that Manchester United boss Marc Skinner also alluded to both pre and post-match.

There seems to be a real lack of width in Skinner’s United side – an area that was previously used as a point of emphasis under Casey Stoney. Under Stoney we saw left-winger Leah Galton being utilised a lot more than she currently is, stretching opponents with not only width but also her pace and trickery at the by-line with her ability to accurately cross.

However, against Spurs, we once again saw a real lack of width which often made it easy for them to stop United in their attacks.

A key missing point for the United side was also the absence of midfielder Jackie Groenen who is vital in how they set the pace of the game.

Too many times were the United midfield especially caught on the ball in that first half and they were lucky to go into the half 1-0 up. That goal does however need its own special mention as Alessia Russo (who I’ve previously spoken so highly of), brought some individual brilliance with a wonder strike on the brink of HT.

She was on bully mode for the entire game – constantly pinning defenders on the halfway line and beyond. This allowed her not only to relieve pressure on the team, but also to bring the wingers and fullbacks into play. Her fantastic performance, as well as crucial saves once again from United keeper Mary Earps almost brought the team the three points. 

However, Spurs stayed in the game till the very end, and their determination paid dividend as defender Millie Percival saw her 94th minute free-kick sail all the way in without a touch. The bounce appeared to confuse everybody in the box and much to the delight of the Spurs players, rewarded the side with a well-earned point.

Leicester 1-4 Man City

Leicester scored what was only their third goal of this league campaign against a City side that are slowly starting to get important players trickling back into the side following injury lay-offs.

However, the Foxes goal in the first 90 seconds of the game didn’t stop City from sealing all three points – with Leicester continuing to give away too many chances in games.

They managed to carve out some chances in the game, but overall City were too good for them and managed to overpower them in the end. Lauren Hemp was a constant threat and the pick of the bunch from the City goals has to be awarded to Keira Walsh who unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside of the area giving the keeper no chance.

Birmingham City 0-3 Reading

Birmingham City were unable to respond to Reading’s dominant display at their ground – with another young Canadian starlet Deanne Rose shining brightest.

Kelly Chambers’ Reading side looks to be shaking off their initial early season rust and have now put together two consecutively strong performances in the league, with the forwards especially in this game combining well.

The loss however puts an even bigger strain on Birmingham City in their bid to stay in the league, as they still only have one point on the table. They’ll be looking to start building in next week’s derby against Villa.

Molly Bartrip of Reading tackles Sarah Mayling of Birmingham during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Reading Women and Birmingham...

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham

Where to start with Arsenal? They simply just do not look like conceding right now, and this coupled with the fact that they seem to be scoring at will makes them an extremely scary prospect for the league and for their competitors’ title chances.

Once again, the ever-dependable Kim Little was front and centre to everything good that Arsenal did in the game. The nimble and intelligent Little opened the scoring with some clinical finishing late into the first half and not content with just scoring one, she went on to score her 50th league goal soon into the second half also.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, probably one of the most in-form people in football right now Beth Mead joined in, adding a third after great work from Nikita Parris in the middle of the pitch.

The great thing about this Arsenal side is that they look like they can score from any area of the pitch, as well as the fact that they work with such intensity even when out of possession in order to win the ball back. West Ham made some good openings, but Arsenal never really looked like conceding.


Next Week is Women’s Football Week, so look out for some ones to watch on Friday!

Liverpool see unbeaten run ended as West Ham lay the blueprint

Liverpool’s 25-game unbeaten run has been snapped thanks to David Moyes’ West Ham after a 3-2 defeat at the London Stadium on Sunday.

West Ham took the lead early on after Pablo Fornals’ corner went straight in after a slight touch from goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Liverpool took over the game a bit more as the half went on, and Trent Alexander-Arnold equalised with a brilliant free-kick just before half-time.

The second half was more even but West Ham were dangerous on the counter and finally got a breakthrough with about 20 minutes left as Jarrod Bowen danced through the midfield and played the ball through to Fornals who tucked the ball into the corner. It was then 3-1 minutes later as Zouma headed home from a corner, before substitute Divock Origi pulled one back to make it a nervy ending with a brilliant finish.



It was a terrific performance from the Hammers, who moved up to third in the Premier League ahead of Liverpool in the table and level on points with Man City just three points behind Chelsea at the top.

For Liverpool, their club record of unbeaten games could only be tied in the end with a poor performance bringing it to an end.

Klopp was unhappy with the way the first goal came about, believing that Alisson was fouled but ultimately the right team won on the day and West Ham have now set a blueprint for how to win against Liverpool.

They camped deep and narrow defensively, using their aerially dominant defenders to clear out crosses from the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek were there to clean up any loose balls.

Going forward Fornals, Bowen and Said Benrahma were direct and also excellent at keeping possession higher up the pitch to help relieve some pressure. Michail Antonio was once again brilliant leading the line too, using his physical presence to battle with Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip and also his pace to run in behind and stretch the defence.

It was a complete performance and showed the holes in the Liverpool team, especially without a natural striker in the box to attack their crosses and a high line which can sometimes leave them susceptible to pace.

Liverpool are still among the best teams in Europe and one of the favourites for the Premier League title, but a lack of serious squad depth could become an issue as the season goes on and the fact they’ll lose Sadio Mane and Mo Salah in the new year for the African Cup of Nations is huge too.

West Ham continue to exceed expectations, with 10/12 points in Europe this season as well as wins over Liverpool, Tottenham, Leicester, Manchester United and Man City in all competitions too. They’re a problem for anyone and Moyes deserves a lot of credit for the job he’s done.

Manchester City knocked out of Carabao Cup on penalties by West Ham

Manchester City will not be winning a record fifth consecutive Carabao Cup this season after they were eliminated in the fourth-round by West Ham on penalties.

Pep Guardiola named a relatively strong lineup for the clash against the Hammers, who had eliminated Manchester United in the previous round at Old Trafford, including the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez.

But they couldn’t break down a resilient West Ham side, despite having 65% possession and 25 attempts on goal throughout the 90 minutes as they were held to a goalless draw.



The game went straight to penalties after 90 minutes and after West Ham went five from five with their spot kicks, Phil Foden’s miss from City’s first attempt was enough to condemn them to defeat.

It’s the first time in five years that they have been eliminated from the competition, when Juan Mata scored the only goal of the game when they went to Old Trafford to take on Jose Mourinho’s Man United side.

It means a few less opportunities for youngsters such as Cole Palmer, Samuel Edozie and Zack Steffen but also means there could be even less minutes for fringe first-team players such as Nathan Ake, Oleksandr Zinchenko and even Raheem Sterling at this point.

Elsewhere in the competition on Wednesday night, Liverpool beat Preston 2-0 with a weakened team despite being under a lot of pressure for spells while Leicester were successful on penalties against fellow Premier League opposition Brighton. Tottenham also secured a 1-0 win over Burnley to progress to the quarter-final.

On Tuesday, Arsenal defeated Leeds at the Emirates with a 2-0 win while Chelsea defeated Southampton on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Sunderland are also the only remaining League One side in the competition thanks to a win on penalties against Queens Park Rangers.

The quarter-final draw will take place on Saturday morning during the Soccer AM show on Sky Sports from 10:30am.

Declan Rice continuing to improve as big clubs circle

When a top English team is linked with a defensive midfielder, Declan Rice is the first name on almost all of their wishlists currently.

The West Ham vice-captain has been linked with a move to Chelsea, Manchester United and most recently Man City after a string of impressive performances last season and now this for the Hammers and England.

He shone once again for David Moyes’ side in their 1-0 win over Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park and the praise has been non-stop ever since.



Rice has been playing in a more box-to-box role this season with West Ham, given license to push forward and attack more than previously.

The reason he was linked to the top clubs in the league was his ability to win the ball back, while his positioning and aggression was also attractive to sides who tend to retain large amount of possession.

But during the current campaign he has shown a new side to his game. The drives forward with the ball show he is capable of being a threat in the other direction, while his passing has improved too.

In possession he is still not of the required level to be an £80m+ player in my opinion, but there are signs of someone working hard to improve their game and get there.

Rice would undoubtedly be a fine addition in the defensive midfield role for any of the previously mentioned sides. He is a great ball winner, he is a great leader and he is a top professional.

Declan Rice of West Ham United runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Abdoulaye Doucoure of Everton during the Premier League match between...

The new all-action side to his game is certainly a positive and his athleticism is highly impressive. He has shone on the biggest stages, arguably being England’s best player before his substitution against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, and has been a stand-out performer for West Ham on a highly consistent basis.

Now he must maintain this new level in his new role in order to continue improving and ensure that when he does eventually move for a fee in that world-class category, that he is deserving and that the performances at least warrant it.

Rice is only 22-years-old and when he talks about the game he seems a keen learner and someone who wants to always improve.

He looks to be the perfect choice for the midfield position, but the price is something that has fans and clubs wondering and doubting. He needs to leave them in no doubt that he is the man this season.

He’s certainly going the right way about it.

Premier League European places final day possibilities

In a Premier League season that seemed like everything was sewn up nice and early, the football Gods made sure there was still some kind of action to pay attention to on the final day.

Manchester City are champions, Manchester United are runners-up and Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United are going down to the Championship. Everything else however, including the final two top four places, Europa League places and Europa Conference League places are still up for grabs.

With the middle of the table so tight and congested, lets simplify all the possibilities of the final day of the season for you.

Champions League places

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
Leicester vs Tottenham
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Three teams will battle it out for the final two spots to compete in Europe’s elite competition next season, with Chelsea, Leicester and Liverpool all still in the race.

As it stands, if all three teams were to win their games then Chelsea would finish in third place while Liverpool would pip the Foxes on goal difference, unless Leicester won by five goals more than what Jurgen Klopp’s Reds could muster up.

With the points difference so tight, if any of the teams were to slip up on the day and the other two were to win, then the team that messed up would miss out on Champions League football.

There is of course a wildcard option, that if Chelsea were to finish fifth in the league but then win the Champions League final against Manchester City on May 29th, they would then qualify for the competition as holders and England would have five representatives in next year’s tournament.


EUROPA LEAGUE & EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE PLACES

West Ham vs Southampton
Leicester vs Tottenham
Manchester City vs Everton
Arsenal vs Brighton

This is where it gets a bit complicated, so bear with us.

The Europa League places will go to the teams that finish in fifth and sixth place in the Premier League, since Leicester were successful in winning the FA Cup and are guaranteed to finish inside the top five.

That means one of West Ham, Everton or Tottenham will join one of Chelsea, Liverpool or Leicester in UEFA’s secondary competition. David Moyes’ Hammers are the favourites to finish in sixth place, with a three point head-start over their rivals before the games kick off. They’ve also got the most favourable fixture, with a home tie in front of their fans against a Southampton side with nothing to play for.

Should they fall to a defeat though, Everton and Spurs can match their points tally with a win. That means it would come down to goal difference, which would earn the north London side the position in the table. However if Spurs were unable to beat Leicester and Everton could get a win over the champions Man City, they would take the spot.

There is also a new competition for UEFA though, the Europa Conference League which the team who finishes in seventh place will qualify for. That allows Arsenal to sneak into the conversation for a European place on the final day with a win over Brighton at The Emirates Stadium.

Should the Gunners win and both Spurs and Everton fail to, Mikel Arteta’s side would leapfrog both teams in the table and claim European football for next year – extending their run to 26 consecutive years in UEFA competition.


It’s sure to be an exciting final day of the season after originally looking like it would be a bit of a dead rubber weekend in England. But now it matches up with the rest of Europe with plenty of happenings on to settle at the top end of the division.

Why David Moyes is the Premier League manager of the year

We’re entering the final weeks of the Premier League season and everything is all but settled already for the first time in a while.

Manchester City are set to be crowned champions for a third time in four seasons, while it’s already confirmed that Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will be playing their football in the Championship next season.

Top four is the only thing left to play for at this point, although Leicester and Chelsea currently have a decent sized cushion above their rivals with only a few games left to play.

That means it’s time for the awards to come out for players and managers, including who the manager of the season actually is. There are a few contenders, but one who really takes the shine when it comes to evaluating the performance of their team but also in comparison with expectations and budgets.

One obvious candidate is the man who has led his team to the title, Pep Guardiola. Manchester City have racked up a fantastic season to earn a third Premier League crown in four years, wrestling the title back from Liverpool after the Reds struggled with several injuries.

It wasn’t all easy street for City though, as they struggled early on in the season with just five wins in their opening twelve games and sitting as low as ninth in December. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss rallied the troops though and put together a phenomenal run of 15 wins in a row.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United and Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City look on during the Premier League match between Manchester City...

Guardiola used his experience and incredibly high quality of squad options to rotate freely throughout the tough schedule, but he tightened the defence up to have the best in the league while still maintaining an attack that has scored more goals than anyone else in the league.

You could also look at the other end of the table, where Leeds United earned promotion last season and this season have been excellent to claim a mid-table finish and win the hearts of plenty of neutrals.

Marcelo Bielsa’s attacking brand of man-to-man football all over the pitch has seen 106 goals scored in Leeds United’s games this season, more than any other team in the league. He has used his trademark system to put Leeds in a position where they can challenge with the mid-table sides after just one season and with limited options this season he has done a remarkable job.

He hasn’t quite done the job of a certain David Moyes at West Ham United however.

After taking over the team mid-way through last season, Moyes steered the Hammers to safety with just two games to spare but this season he has done the unthinkable by pushing them to the brink of Champions League football.

West Ham United's Scottish manager David Moyes gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and...
Hands up if you’re the manager of the year

A solid defensive system, successful in part to some excellent signings he made with a lower budget than most, Moyes has seen West Ham perform at a level far beyond even the most hardcore fan’s wildest expectations this season.

Only the current top four have been able to win more games in the season so far and only Liverpool below them have lost less games this season. Moyes has also been able to reinvigorate the career of Jesse Lingard after he joined in January, while he has been able to employ a system that has got the best out of new signings Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek and kept Declan Rice and Michail Antonio as important and influential as ever too.

Bringing the east London outfit all the way up the table in such a short space of time has shown everyone that he is still a great manager despite his struggles with Manchester United and Real Sociedad.

West Ham have been fantastic this season and in no small part thanks to the excellent performance of David Moyes, so he deserves to be the Premier League manager of the year.

West Ham’s Jekyll and Hyde performance shows why Top 4 will be tough

West Ham United turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance at the London Stadium as they blew a 3-0 lead against Arsenal to take away only a point from the game.

Jesse Lingard scored a screamer early on with a half volley into the top corner, before a quickly taken free-kick allowed Jared Bowen to score just a minute later to double the lead. Michail Antonio’s header was then touched in by Thomas Soucek to give the Hammers a 3-0 lead inside half an hour, leaving Arsenal stunned.

The Gunners pulled one back before half-time as Alexandre Lacazette’s strike deflected in off Soucek, making the Czech midfielder a goalscorer for both teams in the same half. Mikel Arteta’s side came flying out in the second half and forced a second own goal, this time from Craig Dawson to make it 3-2 after a great run from Calum Chambers, before Nicolas Pepe’s cross found Lacazette to head home an equaliser late on.

It was a real performance of two halves from West Ham, who came out and dominated in the first half then seemed to go into their shells and quiver as a win got closer and Arsenal fought back.

Lingard and Antonio were willing runners throughout but their decision making in the second half suffered greatly, with both men seeming to opt for individual glory rather than keeping possession or playing their teammates in.

Declan Rice was excellent in the first half, keeping the play ticking over and putting a halt to the Arsenal attacks in the middle of the pitch but in the second half he was an almost entirely different player.

Martin Odegaard dropped a bit deeper to help the central midfielders and Rice and Soucek couldn’t cope. The Norwegian was able to completely dictate the game and it was because of him that Arsenal sustained attacks for almost the entirety of the half.

He was able to turn in the half-spaces, beat players and find passes through the lines or out to the full-back that had West Ham retreating and panicking. While he ended the game with no goals or assists, for my money he was the man of the match with an influential second half.

It was a performance that was very different from what we’ve seen from West Ham this season, in a year where they’ve been incredibly consistent in their style and performances.

They currently sit in fifth place in the table, two points behind fourth placed Chelsea after this result with nine games to play. Many have tipped them to potentially break into the Champions League places based on their performances this season, but it now seems unlikely.

This performance is the reason why many also tipped them to eventually fall away earlier than now, because the quality in the side just isn’t quite there.

Finishing among those in the race is still an achievement for Moyes’ side based on pre-season expectations, but it will be disappointing how a game in which they should have wrapped up and seen off turned into them being relatively happy to come away with a point.

The level of performance throughout the season has been great for them and players like Lingard, Antonio and Rice have rightly earned themselves plaudits – but the lack of top level quality in them and around them is showing as we enter the final stretch of the season.

Manchester United through to FA Cup quarter-finals despite poor display

It was a dismal affair that lasted 120 minutes, but Manchester United came away with a win over West Ham to progress to a record seventh consecutive FA Cup quarter-final thanks to a Scott McTominay goal.

The two sides cancelled each other out in 90 minutes, with Marcus Rashford missing arguably the best chance of the game in the second half when Lukasz Fabianski denied him from close range.

With United pushing for a winner in extra-time it finally came after a counter-attack and with the ball headed to Rashford by Thomas Soucek, the England man laid it off for an on-rushing McTominay to blast into the net for his seventh goal of the season.

United saw out the rest of the tie relatively comfortably and will be in the last eight of the competition once again.

It was another decent performance from the Scot, who has found some good form in recent weeks and has now matched Anthony Martial’s tally for the season.

It seems to be a new role for McTominay, with Solskjaer seemingly letting off the leash a little bit more and allowing him to break closer to the box more often. Being allowed to use his engine more and being closer to the box has seen him be able to use his great ball striking technique to greater effect too.

Defensively, McTominay is still a bit shifty. He isn’t the greatest when it comes to reading the game and often waits for far too long to close the opposition down or engage in a tackle. His skillset seems more accustomed to a box-to-box role rather than the holding midfield role we have seen him deployed in more often than not.

Fred had an absolute stinker in midfield during the game, with his pressing completely off and often misplacing passes that should have been relatively simple to complete. It was a real wonder that he was kept on the pitch for 90 minutes, as it was Nemanja Matic who was replaced as United chased the game.

Another disappointing performer was Donny Van de Beek, who got a rare start in the number ten role with Bruno Fernandes rested.

The Dutchman really struggled to stamp any sort of authority on the game and despite picking up some decent positions, he doesn’t have the aura around him that Fernandes does to demand the ball from his teammates.

Manchester United v West Ham United: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round : News Photo

It meant that he was often bypassed for the safer pass and meant his impact was minimal. He was substituted at the same time as Matic, with Fernandes coming on and instantly the team began to move the ball quicker and into more dangerous areas.

There was almost a feeling of a lack of trust between Van de Beek and his fellow teammates, whereas Fernandes has seemingly earned the status in the side that the team believe he can make something happen at any point and thus give him the ball no matter what.

With Paul Pogba out injured for the next few weeks with a thigh problem, this was the former Ajax man’s chance to stake his claim for a more regular spot but instead he showed many why Solskjaer’s decision to leave him out is justified right now.

Despite the poor performance, in a cup competition the result is always more important and progression to the next round is now secured. The Reds will travel to the Hawthorns on Sunday to take on West Brom and can expect a similar type of game, with their opponents likely to sit deep and defend for their lives.

United will need to be better than they were in this game if they want to break Sam Allardyce’s men down in that game and keep as close to Manchester City as they possibly can in the title race.