FA Cup James Collins

United Duo Makes Difference in Cup Tie

3:16 PMAleks Vee

RVP celebrates yet another goal.
Cup games are perhaps full of more surprises than regular season matches. It's no surprise that West Ham gave Manchester United quite a challenge, but the lack of chances from the visitors did not exactly meet expectations. Ferguson's side had more of the ball during the first half and did well defensively thanks to Paul Scholes, challenging West Ham on set pieces. Yet United's goal did not come from a corner. Cleverley's brilliant finish into the far post came from an Hernandez pass. It didn't take long for West Ham to turn the tide in their favor. Joe Cole's return pumped up the fans and motivated the players. Though Cole didn't have too many chances to score on his own, he managed to deliver a great cross to James Collins, whose header flew past De Gea to tie the score. Pretty soon Sir Alex's side was giving away set pieces like Halloween candy. The odd line-up didn't help, either. Kagawa lost the ball, and Hernandez was barely visible on the pitch aside from his assist. Perhaps the most useless addition was Buttner, whose presence was highlighted in the last minutes of the game as he failed to repeat van Persie's feat from the same position.

The teams traded moments at the start of the second half, with Cleverley and Cole in the center of the action. Manchester United's carelessness on defending set pieces soon cost them another goal, a mirror image of Collins and Cole's previous combination. The exact same header from the exact same assist led West Ham from a 1-nil deficit to a 2-1 lead. Their performance had, no doubt, gotten many hopes up. The Hammers' last win against Manchester United was a smashing 4-0 in a Carling Cup match 3 years ago. Considering United's record in London for FA Cup games, the situation looked to be in West Ham's favor. But the Reds are also known for another feat - late goals, often in added time, that earned them the enduring title "Comeback Kings". Ferguson's double substitution seemed to be just the change that the Reds needed to get back in the game. Surprisingly, the ever-successful manager did not bring Kagawa off. Hernandez and Scholes left the pitch, and on came RVP and Valencia. Ryan Giggs also took the field, finding space to test the net but sending the ball high up. Nevertheless, the veteran's long pass from across the field fed Robin van Persie. The forward nestled the ball in the corner, scoring against West Ham just like did back in November. The Giggs-van Persie combination elicited comparisons to Beckham and Crouch, cementing another legendary duo in England's footballing history. With United scoring 13 goals in the last 10 minutes of matches this season, West Ham were statistically outnumbered.

Is Manchester United a one-man team?
As the buzz around Robin van Persie continues to escalate, both fans and commentators have emphasized the importance of his presence on the pitch for United. Not only does he score in nearly every game, but he also seems to be the go-to man when the Reds need a last-minute draw or a tie-breaker. The former Arsenal star is undoubtedly a plethora of talent, but without the help of his teammates, he wouldn't have a shot at scoring. Whether picking up a cross from Antonio Valencia or speedy back-heel passes from Wayne Rooney, van Persie sees the pitch remarkably well and can make the difference between a sloppy off-target shot and a superb finish. The fact that United can win or draw with different combinations of players is what makes the team one of the best. RVP has definitely strengthened the attack, but his teammates have given him the opportunity to showcase his talent.

FA Cup - 3rd Round
Saturday, January 5, 2013, 12:15PM EST

West Ham United vs. Manchester United - 2:2 (1:1)
Venue: Upton Park (London)
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Leeds)
0:1 Tom Cleverley (Asst. Chicharito) (23') 
1:1 James Collins (Asst. Joe Cole) (27') 
2:1 James Collins (Asst. Joe Cole) (59') 
2:2 Robin van Persie (Asst. Ryan Giggs) (90'+1')

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