Mark Noble: We’ve had some great history against Manchester United in the FA Cup
Mark Noble is preparing for another titanic tussle with Manchester United in Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup fifth-round tie at Old Trafford.
West Ham United’s vastly experienced Club captain has faced the Red Devils on 24 occasions in a Claret and Blue shirt, with the first being as a fresh-faced 18-year-old at the Boleyn Ground back in November 2005, and the most-recent being as a battle hardened 33-year-old in the hard-fought 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in July last year.
In between, Noble has enjoyed many standout moments against the Red Devils, most notably the 1-0 Great Escape-clinching away win in May 2007, providing two assists in a come-from-behind victory in December of the same year, and the 3-2 victory in the Hammers’ historic final game in Upton Park in May 2016.
Now, as he approaches the twilight of his illustrious career, the No16 is hoping to record another unforgettable moment against Manchester United when David Moyes’ Irons step out to challenge Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side.
There have been a few years where we’ve been one game away from a Wembley semi-final, so we’re hoping it’s this year!
“When I think back to my favourite FA Cup goals, I think of Dimitri Payet’s free-kick at Old Trafford in 2016, and Paolo Di Canio’s goal against them there back in 2001,” he reminisced.
“We’ve had some great history against Manchester United in the FA Cup and hopefully Tuesday’s game will be another one to look back on.
"Manchester United are in good form and have got some top players, but we've been playing well ourselves this season and it's just one where we can go to Old Trafford and enjoy the game as we're in a great position in the league and have a right good go at it as well.
"There are not many people fortunate enough to play at the 'Theatre of Dreams' in an FA Cup tie, so we want to make the most of it and obviously we're going there to win.
“You need a bit of luck and I’m hoping, at my age, that we get that bit of luck and we have a good FA Cup run.”
For Noble, the closest he has come to leading West Ham out at Wembley came in 2011, when they lost 2-1 at Stoke City and then again in 2016, when the Irons were leading 1-0 going into the closing stages of the aforementioned sixth-round tie at Old Trafford through Payet’s sensational free-kick (pictured, above), only for Anthony Martial to equalise in controversial circumstances seven minutes from full-time.
Manchester United won the replay 2-1 at the Boleyn, ending the captain’s dream of appearing in an FA Cup semi-final at the Home of Football.
Five years on, the skipper is hoping to avenge that defeat and finally fulfil that ambition.
“When I grew up, the FA Cup was a massive, massive occasion for everyone and I remember playing in the FA Cup thinking ‘I can’t believe this, being involved in the FA Cup is a special occasion’ and obviously I’ve been playing in it for many years,” Noble recalled, reflecting on the 30 ties he has played.
“There have been a few years where we’ve been one game away from a Wembley semi-final, so we’re hoping it’s this year!”
Tuesday’s tie will be broadcast live in the UK on BBC One and the BBC iPlayer, with kick-off at 7.30pm. You can also follow the game on whufc.com, the Official West Ham United App and across our social media channels.