It’s been a difficult season for West Ham and David Moyes, who still find themselves in the midst of a relegation threat in the Premier League. But, on Monday those immediate concerns move to the back burner as a rare trip to Pride Park presents a chance to progress in the FA Cup.
The Hammers were on a six-game winless run when they travelled to Brentford in the previous round. Defeat against a heavily-rotated Bees could have spelled the end of Moyes’ tenure, but they manage to edge their Premier League counterparts and avoid further drama.
Since then Moyes has defeated Everton to allay some of the immediate pressure, but he will be desperate to avoid another cup exit to lower-tier opposition — exiting to Blackburn in the EFL Cup — when he takes on Derby, a club against whom he has a 100% record (three wins from three in his career).
The Rams have endured a club-threatening few years after tumbling down to League One, entering administration, and suffering various points deductions along the way. But, the instability that has plagued the club in recent times seems to have subsided this campaign, with Paul Warne galvanising his side and setting them on a 14-game unbeaten run — the kind of streak that makes this fixture ripe for a potential upset.
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Derby vs West Ham match stats
Consistency issues have long been a bone of contention among West Ham fans when it comes to Said Benrahma, but he has been one of the club’s better performers this campaign. It was his goal in the previous round against former club Brentford that decided the tie, while he has also registered the most shots on target in the Premier League this season among West Ham players (13). Such potency up top should serve the club well on Monday night.
For Derby, David McGoldrick has been their biggest threat with nine goals in League One this season. In fact, the 35-year-old has once before appeared against West Ham in the FA Cup, and he actually scored when Nottingham Forest lost 3-2 back in 2011 at Upton Park. Conor Hourihane will be the player most like to set McGoldrick up; the former Aston Villa midfielder has 49 chances in League One this season, the fifth-most in the division.
These clubs last met in the Championship in December 2011, with Nigel Clough’s men running out 2-1 victors against Sam Allardyce’s side. Callum Ball and Paul Green got the goals for the hosts to cancel out Frank Nouble’s strike for the Hammers.