David Moyes cannot wait to take on his former club Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round after goals from Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio sealed West Ham’s 2-0 victory at third tier Derby on Monday.
Bowen put West Ham ahead early in the first half and Antonio doubled the lead soon after the interval in the fourth round tie.
Moyes’ side will head to Old Trafford in late February as they continue their bid to reach the FA Cup final for the first time since 2006.
It will be Moyes’ latest return to United, who sacked the Scot in 2014 only 10 months after he succeeded Alex Ferguson.
“I’m really looking forward to the game. It’s a really good game for us.” Moyes said.
“Maybe at the moment that’s the game we need because we’ve got players who want to play on the big stage.
“There’s nothing bigger than Old Trafford, so I’m saying to the players, ‘Come on, let’s go and take it on and challenge them’.”
Avoiding an embarrassing defeat against Derby was essential for the under-fire Moyes, but it is Premier League survival that remains his top priority.
The Hammers are languishing in 16th place in the Premier League, just one point above the relegation zone.
“This was a difficult game because Derby had gone 16 unbeaten. In the end, we did a pretty professional job on them,” Moyes said.
Moyes made six changes following West Ham’s vital 2-0 victory over Premier League relegation rivals Everton in their most recent match nine days ago.
Despite the selection gamble, West Ham proved too strong for a Derby side on the up after a turbulent period.
Just 12 months ago, Derby were in turmoil, with the club close to going out of business after they plunged into administration and suffered relegation to the third tier for the first time since 1986.
Finally rescued in July 2022 when lifelong Derby fan David Clowes bought the club from Mel Morris, the Rams have been revitalised this term.
Paul Warne’s side sit fourth in League One and the FA Cup exit shouldn’t detract from their promotion challenge.
Bowen was one of West Ham’s established stars to feature despite a difficult season that Moyes admits has been caused by the winger’s frustration at failing to make England’s World Cup squad.
The 26-year-old is finally showing signs of getting back to his best after netting against Everton and he was on the scoresheet again in the 10th minute.
Antonio’s long pass caught out the Derby defence and Tomas Soucek headed the ball towards Bowen, who coolly slotted home from close-range.
Moyes has insisted Antonio will not be sold before Tuesday’s transfer deadline after he hinted he might be ready to quit the London Stadium amid reports of interest from Everton.
With Gianluca Scamacca and new signing Danny Ings injured, Antonio is West Ham’s only fit senior striker.
And it Antonio who killed off Derby in the 50th minute with a close-range header after Bowen’s cross deflected into his path off Derby’s Craig Forsyth.
West Ham’s victory came just hours after the last 16 draw was made.
Wrexham will host Tottenham if the non-league side can beat Sheffield United in a fourth round replay.
Fifth-tier Wrexham, who are owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, were seconds away from a shock win against Sheffield United on Sunday before the Championship side snatched a 3-3 draw.
With Reynolds watching at the Racecourse Ground, John Egan scored a late equaliser for United and the teams will meet again at Bramall Lane for the right to face Tottenham.
Manchester City, 1-0 winners over Premier League leaders Arsenal on Friday, travel to second tier Bristol City, for the first meeting of the sides since the League Cup semi-finals in 2018.
Brighton head to second tier Stoke after knocking out holders Liverpool with a dramatic 2-1 victory on Sunday.