Manchester United vs West Ham United
After a spirited but ultimately fruitless display against Barcelona in midweek, it’s back to the Premier League for Manchester United and they have work to do.
Few if any us fans would have given them a chance of a top four finish before Christmas but the form since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – initially as interim manager and now full-time boss – has lifted spirits.
Even accounting for two defeats in the last three league matches (four in five in all competitions), United can claim a Champions League qualifying berth.
But they need to return to winning ways immediately.
Nothing more than three points against West Ham at Old Trafford will be acceptable.
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Premier League highlights have been few and far between for both sides recently, West Ham also going down to defeat earlier this week.
Yet one of their best results of the campaign came back in late September when they had too much in a dynamic showing which consigned United to their worst top flight start for 29 years.
On saying that, United were listless that afternoon and Solskjaer will not expect a repeat given what is now at stake.
His preparation won’t be helped by the absence of both his first choice full-backs, Luke Shaw and Ashley Young who are suspended.
While Mateo Darmian would normally be expected to fill either role, he is injured and club captain Antonio Valencia seemingly on the way out.
That leaves the door open for Diogo Dalot, the talented Portuguese youngster who has impressed, and Marcos Rojo, who was on the bench in midweek in Europe.
A lack of match practice for Rojo, however, could see Dalot play left-back with Phil Jones coming in on the right-hand side.
West Ham will seek a league double and have far more than pride to play.
They know finishing in seventh position could open the door for a Europa League place themselves. They are currently five points adrift and boss Manuel Pellegrini hasn’t ruled it out, even if the Chilean tactician admits a long season is catching up on some of his players.
He has certainly steadied the ship in east London this term, improving their home form and making the Olympic Stadium a far happier place than a year ago, yet on the road their form has been terrible.
Indeed, not since December 27 at Southampton have the Hammers taken all three points on their travels.
In their defence, they have struggled with a number of long-term absentees with the injury-prone Andy Carroll seeming to have played his last game for the club and defender Fabian Balbuena only returning this week after being out since December with a knee injury.
Javier Hernandez celebrate after scoring a goal
The match will see former United favourite Javier Hernandez return to Old Trafford and he will be afforded a warm welcome, although he will hope he is given more service than he’s received most of the campaign.
When these clubs met last season there was a genuine air of excitement that United were ready to mount a title challenge after a successful first season with Jose Mourinho at the helm.
It showed in the performance too as United romped to a 4-0 opening weekend of the season victory, courtesy of goals from debutant Romelu Lukaku (two), Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.
The goalless draw the sides payed played out in London in the penultimate league game of the season last May confirmed United in the runners-up spot.
West Ham were 3-1 winners at home earlier this season, thanks to goals from Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and an own goal.
Marcus Rashford replied for the Red Devils.
West Ham last won at Old Trafford in May 2007 when a certain Carlos Tevez scored the goal to keep the Hammers up against the already crowned league champions.
||Manchester United vs West Ham United
||Manchester United, Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.12
|April 14, 12:30 (GMT+8)
Premier League betting odds strongly favour United.
They are priced 1X2 @ 1.40 with the draw @ 4.50 and the Hammers well adrift @ 7.60.
Should West Ham get a positive result, there is an attractive Double Chance bet – West Ham or Draw will pay out @ 2.81.
Goals are normal between these sides and there’s room for a small profit with total goal 2-3 @ 2.12, total goal 4-6 @ 2.55 and over 3.25 goals @ 2.16.
If the Hammers turn on the style or prove a real match – as they so often do in the big games – Asian Handicap West Ham +1.00 @ 2.44 will have caught your eye.
In contrast, a repeat of last season’s comprehensive home victory – correct score 4-0 – offers you a payday @ 18.50.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:
| = â‚¬20 (Highly confident)
|| = â‚¬10 (CONFIDENT)
|| = â‚¬5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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