With Stockport awaiting West Ham’s arrival, the marquee matchup in this FA Cup draw will be between the Hammers strikers and whoever Stockport have at CB.
No disrespect to the Stockport team that will face off against West Ham in the FA Cup, every West Ham supporter is well aware that a shock result can happen, especially against us in Cup action. That being said, the defensive coverage that Stockport will be fielding at centre-back will be a far cry from Ruben Diaz and John Stones.
This should not only be tantalizing for the Hammers striker or strikers used, but it should also be a notable opportunity that needs to be seized by whoever starts atop the favoured West Ham attack. With Michail Antonio easing back into action from a hamstring injury and Sebastien Haller sold, two players will get this chance to show their ability.
Enter Andriy Yarmolenko and Mipo Odubeko, two vastly different players both vying for the opportunity at striker against Stockport.
For Mipo Odubeko, the former Manchester United academy player was highly rated but made the move to West Ham in search of Premier League minutes. The opportunity presented with Antonio injured passed him up due to his own injury but concluded rehab and a full week of first-team training all suggest Mipo will be used in this game.
Yarmolenko, on the other hand, is one of the few Pellegrini-era players left in the team and is looking to show his worth ahead of free agency this summer. He hasn’t received many chances under David Moyes but for the sake of insulating at centre-forward or right-wing, Yarmolenko will see the pitch.
For both Odubeko and Yarmolenko, the chance to start and potentially succeed in this game would light a small fire of optimism with striker options thin at the moment. Yarmolenko is searching for consistency and along with that, his tenth goal for the Hammers in his Premier League career.
All signs point to West Ham being able to dominate possession and work Stockport with passing and runs in behind. This bodes extremely well for Yarmolenko, who lacks elite pace but has terrific dribbling skills, passing, and a potent left boot from in close or at range.
Mipo Odubeko will need to show his ability to work with his wingers in this game, likely Said Benrahma and either Yarmolenko or Jarrod Bowen, as an outlet to play with and a target to hit for aerial attacks and through ball passes. Odubeko has also shown off his shooting abilities on social media, proving he could be a threat from anywhere on the pitch.
Regardless of who, if not both, starts for the Hammers, both Odubeko and Yarmolenko have plenty to prove against Stockport. Five subs and expanded benches will allow for player rotation in the starting team as well as a cavalry-like substitute parade if the game needs a massive change. The opportunity is there, but the leash very well may be short.