Weakened West Ham will still be too strong for Bristol City in replay | Football

The Hammers will lack punch without Jarrod Bowen (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Question: when is a winter break not a winter break? Answer: when you fail to win a home tie in the FA Cup against a team from a lower division and are forced into a tricky replay.

It’s the unfortunate scenario facing West Ham, who should be enjoying a training camp in the sun rather than the prospect of a fraught 90 minutes against Bristol City at a packed Ashton Gate screaming for blood.

The Hammers have already picked up injuries against the Robins after drawing 1-1 with the Championship side at the London Stadium, the most significant being the calf injury which will keep the highly influential Lucas Paqueta out for a couple of months.

Jarrod Bowen also hobbled off the pitch after the draw and misses out, while Michail Antonio is out with a knee injury, which leaves them short of firepower.

The Hammers are sixth in the Premier League, just half-a-dozen points behind Arsenal and Tottenham with a game in hand on the latter. Theoretically at least, they should be counted into Champions League qualification calculations – especially if it goes to fifth place.

Realistically though, a lack of squad depth and their Europa League campaign means they may struggle to finish in the top eight unless they strengthen their ranks during the current transfer window.

David Moyes has West Ham in good shape

David Moyes has West Ham in good shape (Picture: Getty Images)

They are on a decent run, however, with four wins and a couple of draws in their last seven matches, the solitary defeat being a 5-1 thrashing at Anfield in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals when manager David Moyes fielded a patchwork side.

But take the Liverpool lashing out of the equation and the only goal conceded by the Hammers in that run is the Bristol City equaliser while their hosts have gone off the boil, failing to score in three of their last four games.

West Ham are 10/11 with Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred to win a tight affair with under 1.5 goals 5/2 with William Hill. A 1-0 West Ham victory is 7/1 with the same firm and Said Benrahama is 9/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair to hit the opening goal.

• Non-league Eastleigh can book an other-worldly home tie with Manchester United by beating Newport County at 8/5 with Coral in their FA Cup third round replay in Hampshire. Stick them in an FA Cup yankee with West Ham, Wolves and Bolton. 

• Carlos Alcaraz may be slightly undercooked going into his first round match with Richard Gasquet at the Australian Open, take the Frenchman +9.5 games at 6/5 with Betway.


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