Man Utd vs West Ham and the falling power of the big six

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Manchester United host West Ham in the sixth round of the FA Cup, but the game signifies more than that.

The Red Devils are the traditional and historic powerhouse of the Premier League, but TV money has tightened the gap between the haves and have nots of English football.

Slaven Bilic’s men have taken advantage of this to sit fifth in the table, only one point off fourth-place Manchester City and a Champions League place.

The 13-time Premier League winners are two points off the Hammers in sixth and haven’t been able to cope with their normal advantage being narrowed.

Leicester City are the biggest benefactors of this phenomenon, with the Foxes sitting atop the English summit and are five points clear of second-place Tottenham Hotspur.

Claudio Ranieri’s men have shown that no side has to be scared of the traditional big six anymore as their counter-attacking brand of football has seen them rocket up the table.

The cup meeting between West Ham and Man Utd will be the physical embodiment of the closing of the gap and it would be a bold claim to describe either side as an overwhelming favourite for the encounter.

Ladbrokes make the Red Devils 10/11 favourites for the tie, while the Hammers come in at 3/1 and the draw is priced at 23/10.

Louis van Gaal’s go in to this game on the back of two defeats, having lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion before being completely outclassed by Liverpool in a 2-0 loss in the Europa League.

Meanwhile, West Ham are on a four game winning streak across all competitions and haven’t lost any match in their last six outings.

They drew when they met earlier in the season, but given the recent differences in form, backing the Hammers for victory would be a sensible choice.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dan Ross

After a brief stint as a commentator, Dan took his passion for football into writing and went on to gain an NCTJ in sports journalism. A lifelong Walsall fan, he's followed the Saddlers through the highs, getting to Wembley for the first time ever last season, and the lows, namely relegation to League Two in 2006.