Premier League | Upton Park | Sat 22 Mar | 5:30pm
Just when you thought Manchester United had turned a corner…
Man United’s trip to Upton Park is the rather disappointing filling in David Moyes' football sandwich this week. Not to do the Hammers down or anything, you understand, but when you’ve heroically bashed your way past Olympiakos in the Champions League on the Wednesday and you’re staring down the barrel of a derby with Manchester City a week later, you could do without squaring up to The Sam Allardyce Gang on their home manor.
WEST HAM FORM
- Stoke 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Everton 1-0 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 3-1 So'ton (Prem)
- West Ham 2-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Aston Villa 0-2 West Ham (Prem)
MAN UNITED FORM
- Man Utd 3-0 Olympiakos (CL)
- Man Utd 0-3 Liverpool (Prem)
- WBA 0-3 Man Utd (Prem)
- Olympiakos 2-0 Man Utd (CL)
- Palace 0-2 Man Utd (Prem)
All the great work of midweek and the euphoria of a European quarter-final spot could quickly be undone in east London. Arguably Moyes’ toughest job will be getting his players to focus on this game only. The Scot does, however, have a rather big Liverpool-shaped stick to beat his team with.
After the 3-0 home thrashing dished out by Brendan Rodgers’ side, you’d expect United to come out of the traps hard and fast at the Boleyn. Their form on the road this season has outshone displays at Old Trafford, suggesting the pressure of that packed home stadium is more than they can bear, for league games anyway.
Allardyce is likely to set up his West Ham team to counter-attack, using Andy Carroll as the outlet when breaking from deep. With a goal under his belt now (at Stoke last weekend) the striker will have the World Cup front of mind and will know that a good showing against United could attract Roy Hodgson’s attention.
Man United are without their captain as Nemanja Vidic serves a one-match ban for his sending off against Liverpool, so Rio Ferdinand should start alongside Phil Jones. Talk of unrest in the camp this week could yet see a surprise omission or two. For West Ham, after the injury strife that plagued the first five months of the campaign, they are like a flock of spring lambs ready and raring to go.
Player to watch: Danny Welbeck (Man United)
After United reminded everyone of what they’re capable of on Wednesday night against Olympiakos, praise was heaped upon Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. The Dutchman scored a hat-trick. Rooney was at the heart of everything. There were even signs the pair were forging an understanding. But it was unsung hero Welbeck who was the catalyst for this vintage United performance.
Deployed on the left of an advanced midfield three, the England forward ran tirelessly down the flank. His runs in behind the defence occupied the Olympiakos defence, creating space for Van Persie and Rooney to administer capital punishment. 3 of his 6 attempted dribbles were successful – bettered only by Rooney. He won 3 of his 5 aerial duels and earned a trio of free-kicks in dangerous positions. There’s no guarantee Moyes will select Welbeck against West Ham, but after this performance he’d be foolish not to.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- United 3-1 W Ham (Prem, Dec 13)
- W Ham 2-2 United (Prem, Apr 13)
- United 1-0 W Ham (FAC, Jan 13)
- W Ham 2-2 United (FAC, Jan 13)
- United 1-0 W Ham (Prem, Nov 12)
After his last home match in the league, Moyes will be thankful of standing on an away touchline. The 5:30pm kick-off should make for a lively home crowd, many of whom will have fond memories of beating significantly better United sides than this at Upton Park. Moyes will get a lot of stick, but at least he can write it off as opposing fans' stick and not rage from his own. Allardyce will quite fancy this one. Carroll battering away at a creaky back-line with Kevin Nolan sniffing for scraps is the stuff of dreams for Big Sam.
Facts and figures
- West Ham have lost 9 of their last 10 league meetings with United, including 7 defeats by more than 1 goal.
- West Ham have conceded exactly 3 times in 5 of their 6 home games this season against the current top 9.
- United have won 16 of 21 trips to bottom-half teams since the start of last season - 7 of 9 this term.
- 9 of West Ham’s last 10 home games against bottom-half teams have had at least 3 goals.
Best Bet: Over 3.5 Goals @ 1.90
More FFT Stats Zone facts • Find the best odds with Bet Butler
Man United to edge it 3-2.