Mark O’Haire’s Premier League Tips – West Ham v Man Utd
The stage is set for an emotional evening in East London as West Ham prepare to play their final fixture at Upton Park.
West Ham v Manchester United, Tuesday 10 May 19.45, Sky Sports 1
Manchester United will be the visitors as the curtain comes down on 112 years of history ahead of the Hammers’ move to the Olympic Stadium next season.
Slaven Bilic’s side crashed to a painful 4-1 reverse against Swansea City on Saturday afternoon and the home side will be determined to produce a fitting finale in the last ever match to be staged at Upton Park.
Louis van Gaal’s men though will have no time for such sentiment as they hunt down a top-four finish – and with it, a place in the next season’s Uefa Champions League.
The guests have their destiny in their own hands, for they know that they will move into fourth place – ahead of bitter rivals Manchester City – should they take all three points from this crucial clash.
Indeed, victory in their final two fixtures will ensure Manchester United of a second consecutive top four finish under Van Gaal – and it would, undoubtedly, provide the Old Trafford outfit with a timely fillip ahead of the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace later this month.
Marcus Rashford, rested for the trip to Carrow Road at the weekend, is set to return to the fold here and the teenage striker could well be a key protagonist.
Especially if Anthony Martial is unable to shake off the injury that saw United’s top scorer limp out of the warm-up ahead of Saturday’s win over Norwich City.
The men from Manchester ran out as 2-1 winners when these two teams locked horns in an FA Cup quarter-final replay at Upton Park last month and there is no doubt that Van Gaal and his charges would settle for a similar outcome here.
Manchester United have been much-maligned for their playing style this season and, indeed, only Stoke City have scored fewer goals in the top half of the Premier League than United this term.
Defensively though, Van Gaal’s side have been superb; only Tottenham Hotspur have conceded fewer goals in the top flight, while the 1-0 win against the Canaries on Saturday afternoon was the 18th clean sheet that United have kept in the Premier League this season.
Backing goals, though, could prove to be the order of the day here, for Bilic’s men have been involved in a number of high-scoring contests in recent weeks – with goals flying in at both ends.
Remarkably, the Hammers’ last eight matches have seen an incredible 33 goals – and should that trend continue, then there would undoubtedly be value in backing the juicy 10/11 quote for three or more goals to be scored – a selection that would have landed in nine of West Ham’s last 10 matches.
However, there have been fewer than three goals in the last six league victories that Manchester United have chalked up – with Van Gaal’s side winning to nil on each occasion – and their remarkable defensive discipline could prove pivotal once again in East London.
The Red Devils simply cannot afford to drop points in their battle to secure a top-four finish and the visitors are decent value at 29/20 to claim a vital victory in Tuesday’s tussle at Upton Park.
Manchester United to win @ 29/20
*Prices correct at time of publication.