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Monday musings: Up for the Cup

Filed: Monday, 11th January 2016
By: Graeme Howlett

It may not have been the most memorable game ever to feature at the Boleyn Ground, but West Ham are in the hat for the fourth round of the FA Cup after successfully navigating a potential banana skin against Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Nikica Jelavic's first goal since moving to east London back in September was good enough to send Slaven Bilic's team through to the next stage of the competition, although a packed Boleyn Ground had to wait until five minutes from the end of normal time to celebrate the game's only goal.

Until that point the 30-year-old striker, signed by West Ham on transfer deadline day last September had been largely anonymous - although that could equally apply to most, if not all of his teammates too. However he was in the right place at the right time to convert Andy Carroll's delivery and send Wolves tumbling out of the Cup.

Although he made a number of changes to his starting XI, Slaven Bilic insisted prior to the game that the competition remains a priority. "Win a Cup and I could hold it up!", he told the media when asked if he'd prefer to win a trophy or qualify for the Champions League. And that was music to the ears of Hammers fans who have been starved of success having witnessed West Ham fail to lift a proper trophy for 35 years (1999's Intertoto Cup success notwithstanding).

Jela fires home the winning goal with minutes to spare. Pic: Guardian.

For a team with a notable FA Cup pedigree, West Ham's form in recent seasons has been atrocious. The Hammers have progressed beyond the fifth round of the competition just once since appearing in the 2005/06 Final a decade ago - whilst having failed to get past the initial (third round) stage three times in the last four years under Sam Allardyce, whose utter contempt for the Cups was no secret.

Of course Lady Luck has a major role to play in any successful Cup run. Draw the likes of Colchester or Peterborough at home in the next round and you stand a good chance of progressing further; get a trip to The Emirates or the City of Manchester Stadium and your chances are greatly reduced, even if West Ham have won at both already this season!

Following Monday's evening's Cup draw (which takes place live on BBC1), it's off to Bournemouth where West Ham will be attempting to make a better fist of things than the last occasion upon which the two teams met. Back in August, the Cherries secured a surprise 4-3 win at the Boleyn Ground in what was only Bilic's third Premier League game.

Since that disappointment, West Ham have only been beaten twice in the league (by Watford and Tottenham) - a run of 17 games and a very impressive statistic to take into the second half of the campaign.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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