Did you know? Manchester United’s very first meeting with West Ham was in the FA Cup third round, on 25 February 1911. Prolific Scottish striker Sandy Turnbull scored for the Reds, but the Hammers ran out 2-1 winners at Upton Park.
Opposition boss: Sam Allardyce is held in high regard by Sir Alex. Before the two managers went head-to-head late in 2012, Sir Alex said: “Big Sam went to Upton Park a year ago and the cynics said he’s not a West Ham manager as he doesn’t play football. What was his mandate? To get them up into the Premier League as quickly as possible and he got them up within a year. Tell me someone else who could’ve done that?”
Star man: Kevin Nolan is West Ham’s top scorer this season with five goals and his deep midfield runs were a key feature of the Hammers’ strong start in the Barclays Premier League this term. He hasn’t scored since 11 November in a 1-0 win over Newcastle, and results have subsequently suffered.
Sub-plots: The last time the two sides met in a knock-out competition at Upton Park was in the Carling Cup in 2010/11 – West Ham won 4-0 with two goals each from Jonathan Spector and Carlton Cole. Often referenced is West Ham’s 1-0 FA Cup fourth round win at OT in 2001 – Paolo Di Canio scored, as Fabien Barthez stood arm raised in offside appeal – but that score was more than settled two years later when the Reds hit the Hammers for six, again in the competition’s fourth round. Ryan Giggs (2), Ruud van Nistelrooy (2), Phil Neville and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored without reply.
Whistle-blower: Martin Atkinson takes charge of his second Reds game this season – the other was the 3-2 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in December. Atkinson has officiated at two West Ham games in 2012/13: a 3-0