Tony Cottee is relishing West Ham United’s Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie at AFC Wimbledon and believes the Hammers could be set for a long run in this season’s competition.
The Irons will travel to Kingsmeadow – where they have already tasted victory in the Carabao Cup second round earlier this term – in two-and-a-half weeks’ time seeking a place in the last 16 for the first time since 2015/16.
And Cottee, who reached the quarter-finals with West Ham in three straight seasons between 1985-87 and played in the 1989 final for Everton, says Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be confident of repeating their success in south west London.
Going to Kingsmeadow will not be unknown territory for the team – we have played and won there already this season in the Carabao Cup, and that should be a positive factor
“I think we have to look at it as a very good draw – at this stage of the competition you just want to avoid facing one of the Premier League big boys and hopefully have a tie you can be confident of winning at the first attempt,” said the Hammers legend.
“It would obviously be preferable to be at home. However, going to Kingsmeadow will not be unknown territory for the team – we have played and won there already this season in the Carabao Cup, and that should be a positive factor.”
AFC Wimbledon have replaced their manager since that first meeting back in August, with former Dons midfielder and ex-West Ham coach Wally Downes taking over from Neal Ardley in December.
Results have improved since then, including wins over Southend United, Wycombe Wanderers and Plymouth Argyle, but they remain bottom of EFL League One.
And, in the FA Cup, Wimbledon have overcome non-league Haringey Borough, FC Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town, all away from home, to set up another mouth-watering meeting with the Irons.
“We know it will be a tough battle and that AFC Wimbledon will play direct – our old coach Wally Downes will no doubt have them fired up, but we have certainly got enough quality to get past them and, if we can do that, we are into the serious stage of the competition,” Cottee observed.
With six Premier League teams already out and potentially another four definitely following them in the fourth round, the Sky Sports pundit is feeling optimistic about his old team’s chances of going far.
“Looking at the fourth-round draw in general, with Liverpool already out, Arsenal facing Manchester United and a couple of other all-Premier League ties, there is the potential that things could open up in the fifth round,” he concluded.
“Having said that, we shouldn’t be worrying too much about other teams. Manuel Pellegrini’s selection on Saturday proved that he is taking the competition seriously and I’m sure it will be a similar approach against AFC Wimbledon.”