Both West Ham and Bournemouth had to face F.A. Cup replays in midweek with their being very different outcomes, David Moyes’ men needed extra time to finally dispose of Shrewsbury at the London Stadium while Eddie Howe’s side were dumped out by League one leaders Wigan Athletic.
Each manager named well changed lineups to the ones we would have seen last weekend in the Premier League as their respective cup exploits showed just where that particular competition sits in their list of priorities for this season.
Whisper it quietly but you almost get the feeling that Bournemouth are once again out of the F.A. Cup as they can fully focus on the task in hand, that of course being Premier League survival and today they travel to East London nin a bid to pull further away from the drop zone.
That is something that the Hammers have managed to do as of late and they were given a massive surge up the table last weekend when they made easy work of Huddersfield at the John Smith’s stadium. David Wagner’s men may have been naive at times but that is taking nothing away from West Ham’s performance.
If one man typifies their recent impressive form that is has to be Marko Arnautovic, the Austrian came in for a lot of criticism at the start of the campaign as his efforts did not merit that of a £26m signing but now he is looking worth every penny of the fee that saw him swap Stoke for London last Summer.
West Ham com into this game lying 11th in the table and a win today would see them move into the top half and ease their relegation fears considerably. If they do manage to pull that off then credit must also go to David Moyes as well.
Many felt that the former Everton and Manchester United boss was something of a busted flush after a number of poor managerial stints since leaving Goodison Park but in the short space of time that he been installed as West Ham boss his work is nothing short of remarkable.
Today though he faces off against a Bournemouth side who will be boosted by their all important win over Arsenal last Sunday, one that has seen them surge up to the relative safety of 13th in the table. However although their are places between them and the drop zone there are not a lot of points.
Still that said with them lying in 13th it does at least allow them to look up the table than opposed to over their shoulder, by the same token a win for them would see them leapfrog West Ham and put themselves on the fringes of the top half of the table.
That is how tight it is right now from 11th onwards and it only needs a couple of wins to lift you out of the mire, one of those came at the Vitality Stadium last Sunday when they came from behind to beat an out of sorts Arsenal side by two goals to one.
After going behind to Hector Bellerin’s goal in the second half, they then took full advantage of Arsenal’s defensive deficiencies as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe turned the game on its head as the Cherries completed a comeback which only piles more misery on the Gunners.
Will they be able to harness that momentum though or has the cup defeat put them back to square one, Eddie Howe is not necessarily a manager who is ever deemed to be under pressure and should they stay up at the end of the season then defeat in the cup will be fully justified.
However there is still a long way between now and May and they will need to continue to get positive results, unfortunately for them I don’t think they will manage today as they come up against an in form West Ham. I reckon this will be a home win.