Just when Manchester United looked to have turned a corner with four wins in a row in all competitions, including a 3-2 win at Old Trafford against Arsenal with a weakened team, they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the Hawthorns. Having followed that with a 2-0 loss against Liverpool in the Europa League, Louis Van Gaal’s position is once again under pressure. The Hammers, meanwhile, are flying high at the moment having won their last three games, including at home to Spurs and they also came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Goodison Park in their last match to move up to 5th.
Despite their struggles this term, United have only lost twice in 14 games at Old Trafford in the league, with four wins in their last five there. As well as not faring too well in general in the post-Ferguson era, they’ve struggled in the FA Cup, losing out to Swansea at home in the Third Round under Moyes and at home to Arsenal at this stage in Van Gaal’s first season – their only meetings with Premier League teams in this competition in that time. United’s record when hosting top-six sides in the league this term is W2-D2-L0 with a pair of goalless draws against City and West Ham themselves, a 1-0 win over Spurs on the opening day and that recent 3-2 win over Arsenal.
That game against Arsenal was in contrast to the ones earlier in the season as United have certainly been more open recently. Their injury list is likely to have played a part in that as they’ve managed just three clean sheets in their last 10 in the league and just two in their last five at home, having kept five in the six home games prior to that.
West Ham were 100/1 for a top-four finish ahead of the season and just 7/1 for relegation as they’ve certainly exceeded expectations under Bilic. When Allardyce was in charge, the Hammers really struggled in this competition as they failed to make it beyond the 5th Round in his four seasons at the helm. They look a completely different side under Bilic, however, and have fared particularly well against the top teams in the league as they’re W6-D2-L2 against the current top-six plus Chelsea and Liverpool. They’ve won at Anfield, the Emirates and the Etihad, while their two defeats have come at home to Leicester and away at Spurs. The Hammers managed to score in nine of these games whilst keeping a clean sheet in half as they led at the break in six of these matches.
In addition to their lengthy current injury list, United also have Mata suspended for this one while West Ham have some selection issues of their own as Tomkins and Collins are both out again. The Hammers have struggled without that defensive duo this season, conceding just 10 goals in the 12 games they’ve started (0.83 gpg) but 23 in their other 17 games (1.35 gpg). With that in mind, and since West Ham have an excellent scoring record against the big teams while United have scored in eight of their last 10 games, we’re backing both teams to find the net in this one.
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