West Ham lost 1-0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, after Scott McTominay scored the winning goal in extra time.
A dull Round of 16 tie with Man United ended West Ham’s hopes of winning any silverware this season. After a promising start to the campaign, fans had dreams for a good cup run this year, but it was not meant to be.
When you set up as defensively as we did, there’s little chance of dominating the game, especially against Man United. David Moyes set up his tactics wrong in the first half, and in the end 120 minutes of football proved too much for us.
It didn’t help that we were without some of our top players. Jesse Lingard was cup-tied, having played for United earlier this season and Michail Antonio had to miss out with fatigue.
In addition to that, Angelo Ogbonna was subbed after 10 minutes following an ankle injury, Issa Diop suffered a concussion injury and Andriy Yarmolenko injured his knee.
Many West Ham fans predicted that we could get into injury trouble, and now because of our lack of squad depth, we could really struggle in our upcoming games.
That being said, there is still hope for a good end to the season. Despite various negatives coming out of the game, there are also some positives that we can take away with us as well.
Focus on the Premier League
The only competition we currently remain in is the Premier League. After a brilliant start to the season, we sit in 6th place – only one point off fourth-placed Liverpool.
This has been our best start to a season since 1985/86, when we finished third. We have also already equaled last season’s points tally (39).
Now that we have exited the FA Cup, we can solely focus our attention on achieving European football for next season. David Moyes has done a brilliant job so far, and now this will be our ultimate objective.
We still have 15 games left to play, but after Tuesday’s match it looks like injuries could start to affect us. Hopefully, our key players can keep fit long enough to finish the season on a high.
Highlighted key players
Tuesday’s game highlighted some of our most vital players, who are integral to the success of this West Ham team.
The pairing of him and Tomas Soucek has been excellent this season, and it is evident that we rely on these two now more than ever going into the final stages of the campaign.
While our attack was lacklustre, we defended magnificently. This was largely down to the stability of Craig Dawson, who was our only recognised centre-back for a little over an hour.
In the absence of Angelo Ogbonna, his strength and leadership was admirable to watch. He made three clearances, three blocks, three tackles and two interceptions.
The likes of Ben Johnson also impressed when he came on, providing an attacking threat as well as solidity in defence.
One last stand out player from the match was Said Benrahma. In a game where little happened going forward, he offered a glimmer of light when he came off the bench.
It is hard to understand why Benrahma didn’t start in the first place, but it is clear to see that he pulls the strings in our midfield. He will play a vital role in the squad over the next 15 games, bringing an attacking flair and positive energy to the field.
Ambition to win
One final positive to take from our FA Cup exit, was the fact that we are showing the ambition to win tough games. The fact that the team and our fan base are disappointed with the loss portrays a huge shift in attitude compared to previous seasons.
David Moyes is implementing a winning mentality within our club and now we are competing with top teams to win games. It was always going to be a tough match against a team like Man United, but we didn’t give up until the final whistle.
Despite not progressing past the Round of 16 stage, we swept aside lower league opposition in this year’s FA Cup, which is something we have struggled to do in the past against the likes of AFC Wimbeldon and Wigan.
Now there is a real sense of belief within the club, that we can rival other top teams in domestic competitions. While our exit is disappointing, we are certainly improving as a squad and now we are showcasing signs of ambition to win matches and, more importantly, to win trophies.