Tag West Ham United

Tag West Ham United

Smiles better for Moyes but true tests to come

March 23, 2014 Tags: , , , Reads 8 comments
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It was a phenomenal effort, arching high over Adrián del Castillo’s head, bouncing once before catching the top of the net at the Bobby Moore end. Neither true volley, nor half, Wayne Rooney’s goal at Upton Park on Saturday is the kind that could spark a season into life.

Yet, David Moyes’ celebration at Rooney’s opener against West Ham United came, seemingly, with as much a sense of vindication as joy on the Scot’s brow. This is what pressure does. Even at the moment of triumph, Moyes emits the stench of a man trapped inside his own fear.

Not so on the bench where Danny Welbeck repeatedly punched the air with the euphoria supporters will instantly recognise.

Still, Manchester United’s victory over the Hammers on Saturday has brought significant relief for Moyes. Following Wednesday’s defeat of Olympiakos at Old Trafford, misguided talk of the Scot’s dismissal – at least prior to the season’s conclusion – surely ends. Indeed, barring comprehensive defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday, followed by humiliation at Bayern Munich’s hands – both are possible of course – Moyes is highly likely to be given a second season in charge.

Yet, there have been so many false dawns these past eight months. After all, while United’s record against mediocre opposition isn’t at all bad – certainly on the road – Arsenal remains the only side in the Premier League’s top nine to have lost to Moyes’ outfit. And that was a very, very bad day at the office for the Gunners.

If truth be told, United’s form under Moyes – class even – will be more accurately reflected  in those upcoming games against City and Bayern than in any of the matches over the past week.

Still, the brace of victories has at least restored some confidence in a team badly shaken after the resounding loss to Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend.

“I think the win on Wednesday against Olympiakos has given us all a big lift and you could see today the confidence running through the team,” said stand-in captain Rooney in the aftermath of Saturday’s victory.

“Today was a good result after last week. Overall we played some good stuff. I thought we defended really well. I thought Michael Carrick at the back, in a difficult game, was outstanding for us so there are a lot of positives.

“There was some great counter-attacking football. That’s in the DNA of Manchester United and today we did that. We caused them a lot of problems.”

Yet, familiar weaknesses will be sternly tested in the weeks to come. Marouanne Fellaini and Darren Fletcher studiously supported United’s makeshift back four at Upton Park, but whatever the central midfield pairing on Tuesday, there is more than one a step up in class against Yaya Touré and the outstanding Brazilian Fernandinho.

Indeed, Robin van Persie’s knee injury should enable the United manager to deploy three central midfielders against City, assuming Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Juan Mata all start on Tuesday. Such has been the manager’s devotion to a front two of Rooney and van Persie this season that United would surely have been hopelessly outnumbered against City had the Dutchman not broken down yet again.

Cynics might note that Moyes will need to deploy even greater numbers in central midfield to have any chance of matching Bayern’s outstanding contingent. Thiago Alcântara, Toni Kroos, Bastian Scheinsteiger, Javi Martínez and Mario Götze will each play some part over the two legs and, whatever the confidence gained over the past two matches, it is stating the obvious that Bayern will dominate in central areas.

For Moyes, however, matches against City and Bayern hold little to fear save for a humiliating drubbing. With expectations now at a low not matched in two decades the Scot needs only save face to emerge with some credit from the trio of fixtures. United, at a minimum, has at least gained some momentum in the past week.

“Hopefully we can go into Tuesday’s game showing a bit more confidence,” said the 50-year-old on Saturday night.

“You can never refer this game to the next one but all we want to do is get a bit of momentum and that’s something we haven’t had an awful lot of.”

Neither has there been any real intensity this season; an edge seemingly missing from August through to the spring. It is a pattern that particularly shows in the bigger matches.

With Bayern having wrapped up the Bundesliga at the weekend, and City chasing another Premier League crown, Moyes may find his players’ competitive spirit a little short of the opponents once again. And while pride may be at stake, it has been all season to little effect.

“It’s a massive game, but it’s a big game for City too, for the fans and for the players,” said Rooney of Tuesday’s fixture.

“It’s a big challenge for us and we have to go into that with confidence after the last two games. I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited, and hopefully we can get a good result.”

United, of course, will need a little more than hope, but to some extent Moyes can prioritise Europe following Tuesday’s clash. True, there are tough fixtures away at Newcastle United and Everton to come, but there remains little to play for domestically. Not since Sir Alex Ferguson’s early days has that been true in March.

After all, few supporters care whether the club seals sixth place and a slot in the Europa League third qualifying round. It might even be more lucrative to complete the summer tour in the US and not return early for a two-legged tie in late July against, among other options, the third-placed team in the Cypriot First Division.

In the meantime United begins the 167th derby as clear outsiders against a City side that put five past hapless Fulham at the weekend. That would be the same Cottagers who earned a draw with United at Old Trafford in January to universal consternation in Moyes’ camp.

But then this fixture has seen more than one surprise over the years. A unlikely United win might even bring Moyes a little joy.

Preview: West Ham United v United

March 22, 2014 Tags: , Matches 7 comments
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David Moyes can’t win. Certainly not off the pitch where the Scot has been repeatedly criticised for his bizarre approach to media relations this season. Little over a week ago Moyes publicly mused that Liverpool was favourite to emerge victorious at Old Trafford, and the former Everton boss took more than a little heat for the overly deferential approach.

It was a little strange, then, that Moyes should be quite so brazen about mocking the media in the wake of Manchester United’s Champions League victory. “Nearly everyone,” said the Scot on Friday, “asked me about my inexperience in the Champions League. None of you asked me about that the other night; it must have slipped your minds.”

It was, perhaps, just a little too cocksure from a manager who has presided over 12 defeats in all competitions this season, although one can hand Moyes a little slack in the wake of victory last Wednesday. United’s win was indeed fine as the Reds dispatched Olympiakos to earn a tie with Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter final.

Yet, there has been so little consistency this season that Moyes’ confidence must hang by the most slender thread. One victory – another false dawn after the darkest night – is so often followed by further defeat.

United’s strange kind of European glory on Wednesday might just be followed by another ignominious reverse as the Reds travel to West Ham United on Saturday evening. Prediction is indeed a mug’s game this season.

Moyes is at least a manager who now appears to realise that contrition, rather than yet more excuses, is the only path forward in what has been United’s most calamitous campaign for more than two decades. Honoured with the job at one of the world’s biggest clubs, where so few believed he had earned the right, Moyes’ fortune has not even been tempered by a dismissal that would have come almost anywhere else.

“In some of the games I have felt ashamed because we haven’t played well enough and I have not got a team out that has got a good enough result,” said the 50-year-old on Friday.

“I think the big thing on Wednesday was that I could look at the supporters in the face after the game. We had given them something to shout about. There was nothing to be ashamed of about our performance. There is no guarantee that one good result will lead to another, but you would rather have a good one than a bad one.”

United’s record on the road this season is surpassed, in the Premier League at least, solely by Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. And with West Ham suffering six defeats at Upton Park since August, Moyes’ squad should travel to east London in good spirits.

West Ham United v Manchester United, Premier League, Upton Park, 5.30pm, 22 March 2014Yet, the team heads south without Robin van Persie after the Dutchman was ruled out for between four and six weeks with a knee injury suffered on Wednesday night. Given the striker’s reluctance to return from injury early, especially in a World Cup year, it might well be a surprise if van Persie returns for United at all this season.

In van Persie’s stead Moyes has the opportunity to deploy Juan Mata is the Spaniard’s natural role behind the main striker, moving Wayne Rooney to ‘number nine’. History, however, suggests that United’s manager will eschew the creative approach, pushing Mata into a wide role once more, with Rooney shadowing Danny Welbeck.

Nor will Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, or Antonio Valencia be available at Updon Park, while captain Nemanja Vidić serves the first of a two game suspension for the red card earned in defeat to Liverpool last weekend. Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand are likely to continue in central defence, with the Reds seeking to extend a fine run in east London that stretches to seven years unbeaten in the league.

Meanwhile, the Hammers will be without Joey O’Brien and Marco Boriello through injury, although striker Andy Carroll is available to test a United back four that has conceded 34 goals this season.

Manager Sam Allardyce has come under fire for the Londoners’ direct approach, but with West Ham six points above the relegation zone it is criticism that the 59-year-old will gladly take. Still, with West Ham having lost two away games on the spin, Allardyce needs a positive result on Saturday evening.

“Our efforts at home are what I’ve been focusing on with the players, the fact that we’ve won the last three home games on the trot and we have to try and maintain that if we can to overcome this little blip,” said the Englishman.

“We’ve had two away games in which we haven’t picked anything up in, so the focus is to maintain our home results and try our best to pull off a big result.”

However, the Reds are unbeaten in 10 league games against West Ham home and away in recent seasons, although United has not lost as many games on the road at this stage for four years. The one stat that counts the most – points garnered – is the lowest at this stage since 1992.

Indeed, while victory over Olympiakos has secured Moyes’ job for the remainder of the season, according to some commentators at least, defeat at West Ham may simply erode whatever confidence has been gained in the past four days.

Manchester City’s visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday night means weekend defeat is a scenario Moyes cannot accept. And with two legs against European champions Bayern to come, the trip to West Ham takes on renewed importance, even if United’s league position is such that European football is unlikely next season.

“We have to use this as a springboard to bounce on,” said defender Jones.

“We can’t drag our heels and think about the next round. We have to prepare right for the next game, against West Ham, and go and get a result. We have to show what we’re capable of in the league. We have to go to West Ham and win.”

It is a sentiment with which supporters can agree. Whether words turn into action is another question.


West Ham United v Manchester United, Premier League, Upton Park, 5.30pm, 22 March 2014

Possible Teams
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Adrián; Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney; Noble, Taylor; Downing, Nolan, Jarvis; Carroll

United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra; Mata, Carrick, Cleverley, Januzaj; Rooney; Welbeck

West Ham: Jääskeläinen, Nocerino, J Cole, Tomkins, Diamé, Armero, Spiegel, Johnson, Razak, Diarra, C Cole, Vaz Te

United: Lindegaard, Büttner, Fletcher, Giggs, Kagawa, Nani, Fellaini, Valencia, Hernández

West Ham 42 Draw 26 United 59

Referee: Lee Mason
Assistants: S Bennett, J Collin
Fourth Official: M Jones


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Preview: United v West Ham United

December 21, 2013 Tags: , Matches 1 comment
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Injuries. Whether you believe Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen is a publicity-seeking quack or a modern football scientist it is hard to ignore the charge; that Manchester United’s latest glut of injuries comes amid the training regime brought in by David Moyes and his coaching team. After all, Moyes has been clear that his preference is for more training intensity, including more running and less ball work. It is a philosophy that Verheijen dismissed as being “from Jurassic Park” earlier this season.

Indeed, United heads into the Christmas programme with injury concerns surrounding Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, Marouanne Fellaini, Nemanja Vidic and Nani. More than £100 million worth of talent sat on the sidelines while United tries to chase down Arsenal’s 10 point lead. Given the paucity of talent available to Moyes and United’s league predicament – Verheijen’s is a charge worth answering.

“When United were in Sydney last July, I was there as well,” Verheijen, who has worked for Manchester City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, told NewsTalk.

“I went to the training sessions and I could see what they were doing with Robin van Persie. He had to do a lot of running work and sometimes he even had to do it twice a day. He missed the first week of pre-season so his fitness level was lower than the rest of the team. They immediately overtrained him. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that is gambling.

“If you look at the track record of Moyes at Everton, in the nine pre-seasons that he did, he had seven or eight times an injury crisis in pre-season followed by a slow start to the season. Clearly that pattern repeated itself at United.”

Coincidence or consequence, van Persie’s injury-prone spell has contributed to a United campaign that has threatened to come off the rails more than once. It will take a strong second half to the season for United to ensure qualification for the Champions League next season, let alone retain the title. One that surely cannot come if Moyes’ squad remains short-handed.

Still, victory over Aston Villa last weekend and Stoke City in the Capital One Cup has created a sense of some momentum at Old Trafford. West Ham United’s visit on Saturday, followed by Hull City on Boxing Day, and Norwich City before New Year, offers Moyes’ team a chance to close ground on rivals. Three matches against teams in the lower have of the Premier League.

But United faces the the series with a far thinner squad than is healthy, with Carrick, van Persie and Fellaini not due back until after the year has turned. With Fellaini awaiting a wrist operation the Belgian may be out for some time to come.

“Michael has started some work outside on grass and is getting a little bit closer,” said Moyes on Friday.

“I think he’s roughly due to be back around New Year’s Day – that’s the rough time. We are hopeful we may be able to squeeze a few more days out of it but I can’t be sure yet.”

“Marouane has got an injury to his back – a bit of muscle has separated from the bone in his back – which we hoped may have healed up. We’re checking it with a scan but if it hasn’t healed I might need to take a decision to get his wrist done as well.

“Wayne has got a chance. So we will see how he is tomorrow. Nani has got a hamstring injury and we were worried about that. It’s worse than we hoped so that might well keep him out for a few weeks.

“We have been a little bit short in areas but the players who have come in have done brilliantly well. We have needed the whole squad, we really have.”

Manchester United v West Ham United, Old Trafford, Premier League, 20 December 2013Moyes may turn to Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones once again in central midfield – a duo that has brought some stability to the middle of the park, but causes United defensive concerns that have not been rectified this season. The United manager will pick two from Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa in attack if Rooney is unavailable.

Meanwhile, visitors West Ham arrive in Manchester having secured a morale-boosting victory over Tottenham Hotspur during the week. The Capital One Cup win contrasts starkly with a league campaign that has been undermined by poor form and an inability to score enough goals.

However, Manager Sam Allardyce will be without captain Kevin Nolan, who serves the last of his three-match ban, while Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Mladen Petric, Winston Reid and Ricardo Vaz Te are all injured. James Tomkins returns after missing games with a groin problem, while former Red Ravel Morrison should start after sitting out the Carling Cup match.

It will be a welcome return to Old Trafford for a player’s whose quality has never been in doubt, but where the application has so often lacked. Dismissed from United too early, or at the right time for his own good, Morrison’s is a talent that is finally blossoming in east London.

Whether United have enough talent of their own fit for the remainder of the Christmas programme is now an open question.

Manchester United v West Ham United, Premier League, Old Trafford, 3pm, 21 December 2013

United (4-4-2): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Cleverley, Jones; Valencia, Kagawa, Januzaj. Welbeck. Subs from: Lindegaard, Fabio, Ferdinand, Buttner, Young, Zaha, Anderson, Fletcher, Hernández, Giggs,

West Ham (4-5-1): Jääskeläinen; Demel, McCartney, Tomkins, Collins; Noble, Cole, Morrison, Diamé, Jarvis; Maiga. Subs from: Rat, Collison. Adrián, Taylor, O’Brien, Diarra, Cole

United 58 Draw 26 West Ham 42

Officials (all Serbian)
Referee: Michael Jones
Assistants: G Beswick, S Child
Fourth Official: H Webb


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Preview: West Ham v United

April 16, 2013 Tags: , Matches 192 comments
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It wasn’t pretty, although little of Manchester United’s season can be categorised as such, but the Reds’ victory over Stoke City on Sunday surely ends any lingering doubts about the Premier League’s destination. United should now seal the title within the next three fixtures.

Defeat to rivals Manchester City last Monday came within an established pattern; United’s performances have dipped markedly since Real Madrid’s controversial Champions League victory last month. And while the Reds did little in the 2-0 win over the Potters on Sunday to break the paradigm, victory leaves Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to find just seven points in six games to secure league title number 20.

Indeed, Ferguson’s outfit will draw to within two results of the title should the Reds overcome West Ham United at Upton Park on Wednesday night. Less if City slip up against Wigan Athletic on the same night.

Upton Park is a ground that has not always held happy memories, of course, but with the Hammers just about safe, and United having righted a potentially listing ship, the opportunity will not be lost on those in red to profit from the trip to London’s east end.

Defeat to City, Chelsea in the FA Cup, together with underwhelming Premier League performances against Reading and Norwich City in the past month, proffered a strong impression that United’s was a season stumbling to a close. Victory at Stoke came not so much at a sprint, but at least with some comfort.

“Character,” said Ferguson, brought victory in the midlands, although critics might point to the palpable lack of that quality post-Madrid. Still, with Wayne Rooney dropping back into midfield, and United prepared to graft for victory, Ferguson’s team secured points that were always of more value than any praise for style. At least at this stage of the campaign.

“I always say you don’t leave your character in the dressing room and I think we saw that against Stoke,” said the 71-year0old United manager.

“The Britannia Stadium is not an easy place to go to and we had this swirling wind in the first half in particular, which was difficult, but nonetheless we had to find a way through it and we kept our composure. We weren’t over-anxious about the game – we kept playing the ball, passing it around.

“We didn’t make a lot of chances, but we’ve done that at Stoke over the last six years and made very few chances but usually won the games. The performance and the character the players showed was terrific.”

Sunday’s was United’s fourth victory in five visits to Stoke’s ‘new’ home ground, exposing the disingenuous claim that the Potters’ home turf is anything but a soft touch – at least for Sir Alex’ side. Still, with poor results having haunted Ferguson’s team of late, Sunday’s points will likely prove invaluable come the season’s denouement.

After all, momentum matters, which is why United’s visit to east London is certainly no time to regress into complacency, despite the Reds’ renewed 15-point Premier League lead.

“Now it’s West Ham and we have to play well again,” adds club captain Nemanja Vidić

“They play in a similar style to Stoke – we’re going to have long balls and set-pieces to deal with. Yes, you think you’re almost there but you have to win the games. It helps us build up the confidence and a few players had a great game – people like Antonio, Wayne and Robin. It’s important for players like this to be in good form for the games to come.”

West Ham United v Manchester United - Premier League, Upton Park - 7.45pm 17 April 2013Even so, Ferguson is likely to refresh his side for the trip south, with Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck in line for a recall. Meanwhile, Rooney could revert to a more attacking role should Cleverley come back into the side, with Shinji Kagawa most at risk of dropping to the bench.

Amid much speculation about the striker’s future this week – and role within the side – Rooney will surely welcome a striking berth in east London. After all, with a new contract to negotiate this summer, the former Evertonian’s hand is hardly strengthened each time he is deployed as a part-time midfielder.

Jonny Evans could return to Ferguson’s line-up, but Paul Scholes is unlikely to be selected after missing the past three months of United’s campaign.

“We have no injuries from Sunday against Stoke,” Ferguson told MUTV. “It was a tough game, certainly. But there were no injuries and that is a blessing of course We have a good, strong squad. We took 20 players with us to Stoke and those 20 players will go with us again on Wednesday night.”

Meanwhile, West Ham welcome the Reds with Premier League safety almost certainly secured. Sam Allardyce’s side boasts a six point advantage over the bottom three, with a healthy goal difference advantage to boot. However, the 58-year-old manager is likely to be without a clutch of defenders for United’s visit, including James Tomkins, Winston Reid and George McCartney. Mark Noble and Joe Cole remain on the sidelines.

Still, with United’s prize firmly in sight few will bet against the visitors turning in the first strong performance since Madrid’s unlikely win at Old Trafford.

“I think you have to say they are as good as they have ever been because nobody normally wins the title so easily and by so big a margin, or has this much of a margin at this stage of the season,” adds Allardyce.

“It’s pretty scary what total they might actually finish with.”

That United has won the last eight league meetings against West Ham, scoring 22 goals and conceding just three in the process says much.

Match details
West Ham United v Manchester United – Premier League, Upton Park – 7.45pm, 17 April 2013 March 2013

Possible teams
West Ham (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Pogatetz, O’Brien, Collins, Demel; Jarvis, Nolan, Diame, O’Neil; Carroll, Vaz Te. Subs from: Henderson, Potts, Collison, Taylor, C Cole, Wellington, Maiga, Chamakh

United (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Jones,  Evans, Vidić,  Evra; Cleverley, Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Welbeck; van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Büttner, Rafael, Ferdinand, Powell, Scholes, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, Kagawa, Hernández

Match officials
Referee: Lee Probert
Assistants: R Ganfield, H Lennard
Fourth official: A Marriner.

West Ham: LWLWDD
United: DWWLLW

Head to Head
Last 10: West Ham 1, United 8, Draw 1
Overall: West Ham 42, United 58, Draw 25


  • The Hammers’ 1-1 draw at Southampton brought the Londoners a point closer to safety last weekend;
  • Mark Noble has been a key player earning West Ham’s safety this season, boasting one of highest defensive contribution totals in the Hammers squad with 96;
  • In a similar vein, defender James Collins has racked up an impressive 30 blocks this season.
  • Meanwhile, Matt Jarvis has supplied 71 crosses this season – the 8th best in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index – but claims just two assists;
  • Speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney’s future may be rife this week, but only three strikers have bettered the Scouser’s 599 successful passes in the opponent’s half this season – Luis Suarez, Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez – while none surpasses his average rate of 3.13 minutes per successful pass;
  • Shinji Kagawa’s five goals is the highest of any United midfielder this season, the result of a solid 75 per cent shot accuracy rate;
  • Michael Carrick has amassed 944 successful passes in the opponent’s half and is rated as the second most successful tackler in the United squad behind Rio Ferdinand, having successfully completed 61.2 per cent of his 67 attempted challenges this season.


Preview: United v West Ham

January 15, 2013 Tags: , Matches 147 comments

The Magic of the Cup™ – reloaded. Uniteds of Manchester and visitors West Ham replay in the third round at Old Trafford on Wednesday ten days after a vibrant 2-2 draw in East London. The carrot: a home tie with Fulham on 26 January – and another step towards a Wembley date in May.

Still, with United having laboured for much of the previous match at Upton Park, Sam Allardyce’s men head north with some confidence. After all, the Reds continue to struggle with the defensive side of the game this season, while Sir Alex Ferguson’s side spent much of the second half of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool on the back foot.

The Premier League stands to one side on Wednesday, however, with Sir Alex’ men seeking a 12th FA Cup victory next May. Indeed, the passion with which the Scot celebrated United’s last-minute equaliser in the East End provides ample evidence for Ferguson’s desire to end a nine-year barren run in the Cup.

Good news, then, that Ferguson’s side is likely to be strong for the replay, with Wayne Rooney and Nani set to return for the 125th meeting between the two sides. Rooney hasn’t featured since United’s draw with Swansea City last month, while the Portuguese winger Nani has been out since October.

“Both will play, both are fit,” confirmed Ferguson on Tuesday, who is likely to deploy a many of his senior men at Old Trafford.

“Wayne coming back is good news. He’s been training for a week and looking good. As for Nani, he came back from his spell abroad  and is really looking very good. So I’m fine and will play a strong team.

“Of course, we’ve got a big squad but it’s also an important tie tomorrow for the club. We want to try and have a go at this FA Cup. We haven’t had a run for a long time. We’re at home and we have got to take advantage of that. If we get through, we have got another home tie so there’s a big incentive for the club to make sure we get through.”

Manchester United v West Ham United - FA Cup, Old Trafford - Wednesday 16 December 8.05pmMeanwhile, Ferguson is unlikely to risk either central defensive duo Nemanja Vidić or Jonny Evans – not with United set to face Tottenham Hotspur in London at the weekend in what could be a pivotal clash.

Nor will winger Ashley Young feature after the former Aston Villa winger picked up a knock during the weekend’s victory over Liverpool. Still, with Anderson, Shinji Kagawa and Javier Hernández all in the need of minutes United will not be short of firepower – on the pitch, or bench.

Yet, whatever his offensive options Ferguson will be looking for a far better defensive performance at Old Trafford, with his side having secured just six clean sheets all season.

Goalkeeper David de Gea and likely central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling will have to deal with the visitors’ crossing far better than at Upton Park when the Reds conceded twice from Joe Cole deliveries.

“We conceded two goals from headers in the first game and it’s a type of play that you come across in this league quite a bit,” said Spanish youngster de Gea.

“But we have players at the back who are perfectly capable of dealing with the threat of big powerful strikers who like the ball in the air. We have enough nous to cope with that. It’s something we work on and try to come up with solutions in training.”

Meanwhile, West Ham travel north without key defensive trio James Collins, George McCartney and Joey O’Brien, leaving the Hammers manager with just three fully fit senior defenders. Guy Demel, James Tomkins and Winston Reid will start, while Allardyce could also deploy youngsters Jordan Spence and Danny Potts.

Moreover, the Hammers boss may be tempted to rest key players, with his side facing a crucial relegation fixtures against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend.

Still, Allardyce may still be temped to deploy Joe Cole after the midfielder laid on a brace of goals in the first fixture. Cole also featured in West Ham’s last FA cup victory over United – the 1-0 win at Old Trafford more than a decade ago.

It is also a special occasion for defender Ferdinand, who relishes another tie with West Ham – one which recalls his time in the Londoners’ academy alongside Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Cole. Ferdinand is yet to win the FA Cup with any of his clubs.

“The era we had there will be part of West Ham’s history forever now, with so many players who went on to play for England and win league titles with other clubs,” said Ferdinand.

“It is unfortunate for West Ham those players did not stay there and their presence get built upon. That is all history now I suppose. But Joe Cole has gone there to rewrite a bit of his own history in the coming months. It would be good to see him do something positive, but not this week. We want to get through this round.”

And should United emerge victorious another alumni – this time from United – will return to Old Trafford: Dimitar Berbatov.

Match Details
Manchester United v West Ham United – FA Cup, Old Trafford – Wednesday 16 January 8.05pm

Possible teams
United (4-4-2): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling, Büttner; Valencia, Carrick, Anderson, Nani; Rooney, Hernández. Subs from: Amos, Rafael, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Kagawa, van Persie, Scholes, Fletcher, Welbeck, Powell, Macheda, Giggs, Hernández.

West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Potts; Noble, Diarra; J Cole, Nolan, Taylor; C Cole. Subs from: Henderson, Nolan, Jarvis, Maïga, Vaz Tê, Diamé, Maguire, Spence, Chamakh, Tombides, Driver, Paulista.

Referee: Philip Dowd
Assistant Referees: Simon Long & Gary Beswick
Fourth: Official Lee Probert

United: DWWWDW
West Ham: DLLWDL

Head to Head
Last 10: United 8, West Ham 1, Draw 1
Overall: United 57, West Ham 42, Draw 25


Preview: West Ham v United

January 5, 2013 Tags: , Matches 60 comments

The Magic of the Cup™: jumpers for goalposts, Old Etonians versus Wanderers, Ronnie Radford, the Crazy Gang … Manchester United v Millwall, 2004? The most romantic tournament in the world. Except, of course, there is no longer any flight of fancy. The Cup is dead, long live anything else.

That is certainly the sentiment at Old Trafford where Sir Alex Ferguson has long since given up any pretence that the FA Cup – the world’s oldest surviving football tournament – is anything but a distraction from more important tasks at hand. It is a sad indictment on a unique competition.

And yet there is some logic in Ferguson’s assessment, with the Scot regularly using the FA Cup as a proving ground for youngsters, those that need minutes, and players coming back from injury. Saturday’s tea-time fixture with West Ham United at Upton Park is likely to be different despite a large contingent of United fans heading south.

Yet, nine years on from United’s last triumph in this tournament, there is also a sense that the club is due a victory. Last season’s fourth round defeat to Liverpool was just one in a now growing list of FA Cup disappointments. Not since 2007 has United reached the final – the late defeat to Chelsea – and that was three years past the last occasion on which the Reds actually lifted the trophy.

What, then, of United’s approach to this year’s tournament? With Ferguson’s men safely into a Round of 16 European tie with Real Madrid, and seven points clear of Manchester City in the Premier League, could the Scot change the strategy of the past decade and send his strongest team out again the Hammers?

History says that is unlikely, although such is the depth of Ferguson’s squad that United remain narrow favourites to win in East London whatever the selection. More to the point, the Scot says that he will field a strong side at Upton Park, after watching his team spend nearly a decade without a cup win.

“The cup is a tournament where form doesn’t necessarily win games, luck has a lot to do with it,” claimed Ferguson on Friday.

“We’ve had some really difficult ties over last three or four years. You hope first of all you’re going to be at home in the draw, then you want a draw you can get through. But this is a particularly hard one so I don’t think we’ll make too many changes.”

In recent years United has drawn a succession of Premier League opponents in the FA Cup, although the defeat to Leeds United in 2010 is etched into the memory. Ferguson’s decision to field a make-shift side handed the old rivals an initiative and an infamous victory at Old Trafford.

“We got to the semi-final against City but we’ve had some hard draws – twice away to Liverpool, away to City and a home tie with Leeds, when I rested a few players and we were caught short,” adds Ferguson.

“Chelsea have been fantastic, though I thought they were lucky to beat us in the final when Drogba scored late on. We lost on penalty kicks to Arsenal, which everyone remembers was a travesty of a result. But I think with a club like ours, the closer we get to Wembley, the better we become.”

West Ham United v Manchester United - FA Cup third round, Upton Park - Saturday 5 January 2013, 5.15pmWhatever the claim to the opposite Ferguson will certainly make changes on Saturday, with neither Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick nor Patrice Evra likely to play. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney will sit out another fortnight and Nani did not travel south despite returning to full training this week.

And with Anders Lindegaard, Darren Fletcher, Danny Welbeck, Nemanja Vidic and Alexander Büttner all due match time Ferguson will make six or seven changes from the side that beat Wigan Athletic on New Year’s Day. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones should both feature.

“Wayne Rooney is still injured,” confirmed the 71-year-old Scot.

“I’m surprised, it’s been longer than we thought it would be. He was meant to be back training but he’s not. It’s nothing serious but it looks like he’s going to be out for another two weeks or so. Nani is expected to start training today, and Phil Jones is available against West Ham. Everyone else is OK I think. ”

Meanwhile, West Ham captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins will return after suspension, but Joey O’Brien is a doubtful. On-loan Liverpool striker Andy Carroll and midfielder Mohamed Diame are both unavailable.

Returning midfielder Joe Cole could make his second début for West Ham – the club from whom Ferguson once tried to acquire a teenage Cole 15 years ago.

The match will also represent a return to the east end for Rio Ferdinand who, in the more than a decade with the Reds, is yet to win the FA Cup. Ferdinand missed the 2004 victory while suspended for missing a mandatory test.

It is unlikely to be a comfortable afternoon for the veteran defender, if selected, although United’s recent record against the Hammers is outstanding. Ferguson’s side has won eight of the past nine meetings between these sides, although West Ham did soundly beat a youthful United side in the Carling Cup two years ago.

Few expect a repeat of that 4-0 victory, but then again memories of Paolo Di Canio’s cup winner past Fabien Barthez at Old Trafford in 2001 are still shockingly fresh. And for those who believe in omens, good or bad: Cole played for the Hammers that day.

Match Details
West Ham United v Manchester United – FA Cup third round, Upton Park – Saturday 5 January 2013, 5.15pm

Possible teams
West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Reid, Tomkins, Spence, Demel; Jarvis, Noble, Collison, Taylor; Cole, Vaz Te. Subs from: Spiegel, Spence, Diarra, Lletget, Maiga, Lee, O’Neil, Chamakh, Maguire

United (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard; Jones, Smalling, Vidić, Büttner; Cleverley, Fletcher; Young, Kagawa, Welbeck; Hernández. Subs from: De Gea, Wootton, Evra, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Carrick, Scholes, Valencia, Welbeck, Powell, Macheda, van Persie, Giggs

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Simon Beck & Stuart Burt
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend

West Ham: WLDLLW
United: WWDWWW

Head to Head
Last 10: West Ham 2, United 8, Draw 0
Overall: West Ham 42, United 57, Draw 24


Preview: United v West Ham United

November 28, 2012 Tags: , Matches 69 comments

Old Trafford takes in a rare midweek Premier League game, with high-flying West Ham United in town on Wednesday as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team aims to consolidate a one point lead in the table. Manchester United’s renewed Premier League supremacy came amid few positives from a lethargic display against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday – a scenario Ferguson is keen to avoid against the Hammers.

Once again, on Saturday, United fell behind, only to secure victory over QPR with a three goal burst inside 10 second half minutes. It is a pattern that has repeated all season, although the Reds’ lifelessness for much of Saturday’s tie will definitely certainly concern United’s manager.

West Ham travel north following defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, but lying in a healthy eighth place in the Premier League, with Sam Allardyce’s outfit just two points off a European qualification place.

This is a performance that brought fresh support from Ferguson for his old friend Allardyce. The former Bolton Wanderers manager has rarely enjoyed universal support from Hammers’ fans during an 18 month spell at the club.

Meanwhile, United will make at least one change from the weekend’s line-up, with veteran midfielder Paul Scholes absent through suspension.  Anderson, who impressed in a 30 minute cameo on Saturday, could start just his seventh game of the season against Allardyce’s outfit.

Ferguson has plenty of dilemmas ahead of kick off, with neither Ashley Young, Nani, nor Antonio Valencia in form for the Londoners’ visit. In any case Valencia’s hip problem could rule out the Ecuadorian once again, while Nani has missed matches against Aston Villa, Norwich City and QPR with a hamstring problem. Young, jeered off on Saturday, could drop to the bench.

“We’ll see what Antonio is like today and tomorrow,” admitted the United manager.

“Nani is still going to be out [but] Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were on the bench on Saturday and they’re available. It’s good to have them as back-up and in the back four things are much healthier. We’ve got plenty of options in the midfield and up front – it’s just the two wide positions.”

Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League, Old Trafford - Wednesday 29 November 8.00pmInjuries and form could see United once again deploy a narrow midfield, with Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck also in contention to start alongside the Reds’ oft-errant Brazilian, Anderson.

Yet,  the big-boned midfielder, with Javier Hernández, changed Saturday’s game for United – the pair adding urgency and dynamism as the Reds won the fixture with a short burst in the second half. The player has often frustrated at Old Trafford, but a 30 minute substitute appearance has renewed hope that the former Porto star could fulfill his potential.

“I thought Ando won the game for us,” said Ferguson after United’s 3-1 victory on Saturday.

“His performance was outstanding. He took the game by the scruff of the neck and he was so positive and determined in his play that he picks himself on Wednesday.”

However, much focus will also be on United’s opponents at Old Trafford, with £35 million on-loan striker Andy Carroll likely to draw the Stretford End’s jeers. The Liverpool forward, on loan at Upton Park for the season, has scored just once this season after a near disastrous campaign with the Merseyside club last year.

Still, United’s inability to come up with more than three clean sheets in 20 matches this season means Carroll is an undoubted threat on Wednesday night.

“I am sure if you ask any defender, they find it difficult to play against someone like that who is good in the air and on the floor,” said fellow striker Rooney who should return to United’s starting line-up against the Hammers.

“He is physical and he makes it difficult. That type of player doesn’t always get all the goals but they can cause trouble up front and create problems. I am sure that is what Sam Allardyce wants him to do.”

Whether Carroll’s presence induces yet another comeback performance is yet to be determined, although Ferguson is unlikely to tolerate another lesson in mediocrity. While United’s defensive performance against QPR was far better than at times this season, with Jonny Evans impressing at centre half, the team’s lack of urgency was deeply concerning.

Meanwhile, Allardyce is without suspended midfielder Mark Noble, while left-back George McCartney is a doubt after suffering an ankle injury against Spurs. Yossi Benayoun, Jack Collison and forward Ricardo Vaz Te are also ruled out though injury.

Whatever West Ham’s short-term problems, Ferguson says Dudley-born Allardyce has already exceeded his remit in brining stability to the east London side.

“Big Sam went to Upton Park a year and a bit ago and the cynics said he’s not a West Ham manager as he doesn’t play football,” said Ferguson.

“What was his mandate? To get them up into the Premier League as quickly as possible and he got them up within a year. Tell me someone else who could’ve done that? He’s also had to rebuild the team and get two or three players out because of their salaries. He’s very underrated, it’s as simple as that.”

Whether Allardyce can lead his men to victory is another matter. While memories of Fabian Barthez raised right hand and Paulo di Canio’s cup goal are fresh, so too are eight victories for the Reds in the past 10 meetings between these sides. Old Trafford expects nothing less than a repeat.

Match Details
Manchester United v West Ham United – Premier League, Old Trafford – Wednesday 28 November 2012, 8.00pm

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Anderson; Cleverley, Rooney, Welbeck; van Persie. Subs from: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Powell, Wootton, Buttner, Fletcher, Hernandez, Henríquez.

West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Reid, McCartney, Tomkins, O’Brien; Nolan, Diame, O’Neil, Taylor, Jarvis; Carroll. Subs from: Spiegel, Collins, Demel, Taylor, Moncur, Cole, Maiga.

Referee: M Jones
Assistants: R Ganfield, G Beswick
Fourth official: J Moss

United: WWWLLW
West Ham: WLDWDL

Head to Head
Last 10: United 8, West Ham 2, Draw 0
Overall: United 56, West Ham 42, Draw 24


  • Hernández remains the league’s most productive goalscorer in terms of the average time per goal strike – one every 69 minutes is unmatched by any other forward;
  • Robin van Persie failed to add to his tally against QPR, but performed well enough to usurp Carlos Tevez as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index‘ leading player – on 276 points to Tevez’ 275, with Juan Mata in third-placed on 244;
  • The Dutchman’s philosophy is certainly more than ‘style over substance’ – he covered 6.39 miles at the weekend, more than any other United player for the third consecutive game;
  • United is the only team in the league to have won six of the last seven games, yet in nine of the past 13 league matches Ferguson’s men have fallen behind;
  • Darren Fletcher returned from a long-term absence at the weekend – his first league start in over a year – and covered 6.29 miles in 90 minutes, more than all but three of his team mates;
  • Meanwhile, West Ham head to Old Trafford just two points off Everton in fifth-place, with Kevin Nolan key to the Hammers chances at Old Trafford – Nolan is the league’s most accurate finisher according to the Index, with 70 per cent of 30 shots on target this season;
  • Defender James Tomkins has won 93.8 percent of his tackles this season – more than any other league player;
  • The Hammers suffered a tough day against Spurs last weekend, but Andy Carroll’s goal means that the east London club has failed to score in just three matches this season;
  • Carroll has split fans’ opinions this season, but has 13 on target from twenty attempts.


Advantage United as Rooney inspires comeback

April 3, 2011 Tags: , Matches 47 comments

There have been many late comebacks this season. Indeed, Manchester United’s ability turn to mediocre performances into victory is perhaps the defining hallmark of a season that again rests in the Reds hands. This time at the Boleyn Ground, where United has suffered so much in the past, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side came from two down to West Ham United to score a potentially vital win in the Premier League title race. With Chelsea and Arsenal drawing later in the day, United eased two points further ahead, although with matches against both London sides to come, nothing is settled.

With the hosts two goals ahead within 25 minutes United’s visit to east London threatened to be every bit as traumatic as previous matches on this ground. The Reds’ 2-1 defeat in 1992 handed Leeds United the initiative in the old First Division; three years later and a 1-1 draw enabled Blackburn Rovers to take the title. Just six wins in the past 17 visits and a 4-0 loss on this ground in November’s Carling Cup quarter-final attest to the trouble United has faced in east London.

Not this time. Ferguson’s half-time reorganisation of United’s tactics, and Wayne Rooney’s 14 minute hat-trick, settled the game that for much of the opening period seemed beyond the visitors.

“We played like champions today,” Ferguson said, whose team is now seven points clear with as many games to go.

“We didn’t lose our faith in our ability and that was a great boost to us. It was a real championship performance.

“They probably only had two shots at goal, but two-nothing down at half-time you’re under the cosh. I felt we had to go for it. I brought on Chicharito, put Ryan back to left-back. At that point I’m saying to myself goal difference doesn’t matter. Lets get something out of it.

“We kept creating chances in the first half. Valencia had them on toast. He’s so comfortable on the ball, they couldn’t get it off him. In the first half he delivered two or three fantastic balls in, we just didn’t get enough on them to capitalise. But in the second half, when Chicharito comes on, he gives you that lightning pace and he’s threatening them all the time behind. So it meant they were going right back towards the box and gave us a lot of space to operate.”

Yet, Ferguson’s decision to leave out top-goalscorer Dimitar Berbatov, in-form Javier  Hernández and winger Nani, seemingly handed West Ham the initiative. Deploying Rooney, not in the deeper position that has prompted a return to form in recent weeks but as a lone front-runner, Ferguson asked veteran Ryan Giggs and newly fit Antonio Valencia to provide width. Indeed the latter, whose ability to run at defenders United has sorely missed, proved a constant threat on the right.

The changes left United disjointed in central midfield and vulnerable in defence, despite Nemanja Vidic’s return to partner Chris Smalling in the heart of the Reds’ back-four. Within 15 minutes the hosts took control of the game as Frank Noble scored from the spot after Patrice Evra handled. Tomas Hitzlsperger’s fine long pass split United’s defence and Carlton Cole drew the Frenchman’s infringement.

Within 10 minutes the Hammers were further ahead, Vidic bringing down Cole for the second spot-kick of the match. United’s captain argued that the foul was outside the area – there were no more than inches in it – but Noble lashed home his second penalty to give the hosts a potentially decisive lead.

It could have been so much worse, with Vidic receiving a caution after bringing down Demba Ba before half-time. As the last man, United’s captain may have been fortunate not to see red, although with the ball not under the Senegalese striker’s control it was hard for referee Lee Mason to judge whether a clear goalscoring opportunity had been denied.

Yet, it is testament to both United’s resilience and Ferguson’s ability to gamble that the Reds turned the game around in the second half. If the 69-year-old Scot had offered West Ham the momentum with his initial team selection then Hernández’ introduction for Evra radically altered both United’s state of mind and the match.

The Mexican’s pace, Valencia’s willingness to run at Wayne Bridge and substitute Berbatov’s understanding of space, opened up the game, turning United’s ample first half possession into chances and goals.

Rooney superbly curled in a 25-yard free-kick on the hour to bring United back into the match, before the England man skipped past two players to lash home a second with 20 to go. The striker brought down a curtain on a horrible 12 months by completing his hat-trick from the spot after Matt Upson handled Fabio da Silva’s attempted cross. And United’s come-back was complete with the inevitable Hernández goal with five minutes to go.

It was only a fifth away win in the Premier League this season but on chances alone a thoroughly deserved one. There is also a sense that United’s victory will have deeply hurt both Arsenal and Chelsea, whose inconsistency has enabled Ferguson’s side to pull away.

“It makes an impact on us. Seven games left. You can count the games down one by one,” added Ferguson.

“It ends up you run out of games and hopefully we’re there. Arsenal have games in hand and it could go to goal difference but I somehow don’t think so.”

The Reds excellent recent record at the Emirates will again be put to the test, although by the time United visits north London in May the title could already be over, with Chelsea seemingly focused on Europe and Arsenal simply not mentally strong enough to compete. It’s a charge, whatever United’s weaknesses, that cannot be levelled at the Reds.

“We don’t give up. No matter what the score in the game, we keep going,” Giggs told ManUtd.com.

“We’d played some good stuff in the first half. We just gave silly goals away. We were getting into good areas but the final ball wasn’t good enough. We just needed to concentrate more in the final third. We felt if we kept creating chances and got a goal back we could go on and win it.”

So it proved and with United’s title rivals dropping points, the victory may yet be pivotal. This time, on this ground, it went in United’s favour.

Match Facts
West Ham – 442 – Green; Jacobsen, Upson, Da Costa, Bridge; O’Neil (Obinna 83), Parker, Noble (Keane 83), Hitzlsperger; Cole (Piquionne 68), Ba

United – 4231 – Kuszczak; Fabio Da Silva, Vidic, Smalling, Evra (Hernández 46); Carrick, Gibson; Valencia, Park Ji-Sung (Berbatov 64), Giggs; Rooney (Nani 87)

Attendance – 34,546
Man of the Match – Valencia

Possession: West Ham 37% – 63% United
Attempts: 6 – 18
On Target: 2 – 9
Corners: 0 – 16
Fouls: 10 – 9

Vidic back for vital Hammers trip

April 2, 2011 Tags: , Matches 211 comments

Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic makes a welcome return for the Reds, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s injury-hit squad faces a less than welcoming Upton Park fixture. Rio Ferdinand is back in training but not available for the Saturday lunchtime game with West Ham United, while Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Rafael da Silva are all injured. Adding to Ferguson’s defensive problems, Northern Irish international Jonny Evans will sit out the first of three matches following a red card against Bolton Wanderers a fortnight ago.

Vidic’s return and no fresh injuries during the international break is a welcome bonus for Ferguson, who says that the intensity of the modern game is the cause of the latest Old Trafford injury crisis. With United still chasing a remarkable and very unlikely treble there are echoes of the club’s all-conquering 1999 season.

“The kind of games Manchester United are playing today are far more competitive than they were in 1999,” said Ferguson on Friday.

“The speed of the game has increased, the standard of training and pitches has improved, so everything’s faster. The game is quicker and therefore you run the risk of injury because of that.

“The big one is Saturday, because we are depleted in one area of the pitch. With eight games to go, you can’t exclude anyone. Whoever is the most consistent will win this league. But we should not over-stretch ourselves in terms of looking forward – this game is as important as any.

“I thought the two-week break would bring a few of our injured players on. It has, but not enough for them to play against West Ham. We are considerably short for the right-back position. We have to solve that – and find the right solution.”

“Rio has started training. He has only been training two days and then just a light session today. I have to decide whether we bring him in tomorrow, or give him a day off and start him on Wednesday again. He is more likely to be fit for the Fulham game.”

With so many injuries Ferguson’s back-four almost picks itself, and with Darren Fletcher still suffering from a mystery stomach bug and Paul Scholes sitting out the second of a two-match ban, the Scot is also short in central midfield. Anderson trained this week, although there is no guarantee the 22-year-old Brazilian will be thrust back into Premier League action. Meanwhile Park Ji-Sung is in United’s matchday squad after overcoming a knee complaint.

West Ham United v Manchester United, Boleyn Ground, 3rd April 2011Ferguson’s comparatively meagre resources could mean another game at the head of United’s midfield for Wayne Rooney, who has excelled in a deeper position in recent weeks. Either Javier Hernández, who played and scored for Mexico over the international break, or Dimitar Berbatov will lead United’s line.

And striker Rooney believes that United’s home form could win the Reds a 19th domestic league title. It certainly won’t be the club’s performances on the road, which have brought just five Premier League wins away from fortress Old Trafford this season.

“I have been a player in the away dressing room and I know the fear you feel before the game and you are not expected to get anything out of it,” said Rooney, who played at Old Trafford for Everton in 2003.

“So we have that psychological advantage even before the game starts but we know we are good enough to beat anyone here.

“I grew up an Everton fan so to be part of the team to overtake Liverpool’s record would be brilliant. It would mean so much to us players as well as the fans. It is something I have been thinking about a lot. I know all the Everton fans want us to do it and hopefully we can.

“You look forward to every game at this stage and you’ve got to enjoy it, especially when you are in the running for a few trophies. It is exciting for the fans and it’s exciting for the players knowing that you are just a few weeks away from possibly winning a major trophy or two.”

Meanwhile, West Ham captain Scott Parker should play despite picking up a shoulder injury on international duty this week, although Frederic Piquionne is unlikely to start for Avram Grant’s outfit. Indeed, the Israeli says that his captain should be named Footballer of the Year after a series of outstanding performances for the Londoners this season.

“I think, without any doubt, that he’s the player of the year. I don’t see any player that is better than him,” said Grant.

“And if you also want to nominate a player who’s a good example, it’s good for everybody. He’s a player who always gives everything, always trains well, is always positive and always gives everything for the team. If we are in a position that we can stay in the league it’s because we took points in the first half of the season, sometimes without 10 or 11 players. And he played and he was very good.”

Despite the Hammers’ seemingly excellent record against United, including a 4-0 Carling Cup quarter-final victory in the driving snow just before Christmas, West Ham have lost their last five league games against the Reds without scoring a goal. It’s the kind of record that Ferguson is desperate to for his side to maintain.

West Ham – 451 – Green; Jacobsen, da Costa, Upson, Bridge; O’Neil, Parker, Hitzlsperger, Noble, Obinna; Ba. Subs from: Boffin, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Boa Morte, Sears, Hines, Spector, Keane, Cole, Reid, Kovac.

United – 442 – van der Sar; Fabio, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Carrick, Gibson; Valencia, Rooney, Nani; Hernandez. Subs from: Kuszczak, Owen, Berbatov, Bébé, Park, Obertan, Tunnicliffe, Morrison, King, Giggs, Park Ji-Sung, Anderson.

Referee: Lee Mason
Assistant referees: Darren Cann & Patrick Keane
Fourth official: Stuart Attwell

West Ham – DWWWLD
United – WWDWWW