It's been another crazy week at West Ham with the news that Mad Marko has committed to stay at the club until the end of the season. Many fans will be pleased to have our best attacking threat back on board but it’s worth also noting that in the past West Ham fans have not been noted for their forgiving nature when players express anything but full commitment as Fat Frank, the Guvnor and Mr Defoe all can attest to.
The Hammers have clearly stated their intention to have a decent pop at the FA cup and as such Arnautovic may well figure this evening as they make a short trip across London to League One strugglers AFC Wimbledon. Ex-Hammer Wally Downes is at the helm at present as the club is going through a rebuilding phase that includes a new stadium. However, on the field of play things have not been going well as apart from beating Fleetwood Town in round three have not won since St Stephen's Day
The Wombles story is possibly one of the most uplifting in British soccer history as they rose from non-league status to achieve Premiership status, winning the FA Cup in 1988. However, for those of a certain vintage, the 1975 FA cup run, founded upon the heroics of goalkeeper Dickie Guy (now Club President) serve as one of the greatest moments of romance in the competition. The resilience of the small south London club is underlined by their phoenix like return to top flight football after being sold off and rebranded as MK Dons in 2004!
For West Ham there are selection possibilities all over the pitch. Ryan Fredericks may return at right back after a prolonged absence due to injury. Both Andy Carroll and Samir Nasri are still building on match fitness and may well get a run out. Similarly, both Xande Silva and Grady Diangana will be hoping to get valuable game time. Presumably Adrian will attend to netminding duties.
The Hammers travel to Kingsmeadow for the second time this season, having beaten Wimbledon 3-1 last August in the Carabao Cup. West ham are 1-3 on, Wimbledon are 8-1 against and the draw is 4-1 with the bookies. However, for many fans the real gamble underpinning today's game is the threat of a rescheduling of Monday 4th February's evening clash with Liverpool to noon on Sunday 3rd if the tie goes to a replay.
As one of those nervous fans with multiple flights and hotel accommodation bookings riding on that not happening, i'll be hoping that Arnautovic appears as he will undoubtedly be keen to remind fans that when fit and motivated he is the best forward we have had since Dean Ashton.
Predicted Starting XI: Adrian, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice, Obiang, Diangana, Snodgrass, Arnautovic, Silva.