A top four spot is at stake for Man Utd in what looks sure to be an emotional night at Upton Park.
A top four spot and Champions League football is back in Man Utd’s hands after City slipped up on Sunday. So, with the easier game on the final day compared to their neighbours, a win here will make them strong favourites to claim that spot. However, West Ham will be just as fired up as they look to say goodbye to the Boleyn Ground in style, and it wouldn’t be the first time that the Red Devils have seen their hopes crushed here at the end of the season. Back in 1995 a final day draw in this fixture meant United handed the title to Blackburn Rovers and while Rovers’ success might not be quite the Cinderella story of Leicester’s triumph it was also the last season that Spurs finished above Arsenal. So will we see history repeat itself?
United, of course, won here very recently, as it’s less than a month since their 2-1 success in an FA Cup replay. They’ve also won seven of their last 10 league games with two of their failures coming against the top two so momentum would appear to be on their side. Nevertheless, their performances on the road remain less than impressive as they’ve scored just five times in their last seven away games and lost as many as they’ve won in that run (W3-D1-L3). If anything they’ve raised their game when going to better teams though, as they’ve won half their six trips to teams currently placed 3rd-10th (W3-D1-L2). Four of these matches have finished with fewer than three goals and if United are to win it is worth considering the win to nil at 4.0 as that has accounted for eight of their last nine victories, or even the Win and Under 2.5 Goals double at 5.0 as that been the case in their last six.
West Ham were thrashed at the weekend by Swansea to put an end to their 15 game unbeaten streak at home but they will hope that is nothing more than a blip. However, they’ve now conceded 16 goals in their last eight games so while they’d not been losing there were signs that the defence was creaking. They have scored in 11 consecutive games though, and at least twice in seven in a row prior to the weekend, so their goals stats are in stark contrast to United’s strong ‘unders’ trends on the road.
One area where United might suffer is the absence of the suspended Fellaini – not something we’re likely to write again – in dealing with the threat from Andy Carroll. The Belgian scored the winner here in the FA Cup but he’s suspended and if Anthony Martial fails to recover from the tight hamstring he suffered at the weekend United really will start to look vulnerable.
There is nothing for the Hammers to lose here and after a superb season we expect them to go out and celebrate the final game here with an attacking display. Given they’ve failed to score just twice in their last 31 home matches and have been scoring freely in recent weeks we expect them to find the net at some point. United have momentum but they also have all the pressure and while we think they too will score, the doubts about whether they’ll do so more than once, combined with their selection issues, puts us off backing them. Both teams have scored in four of the Hammers’ five home games against the current top six this season and in four of six hosting the top-six finishers last term and that’s our best bet for this pivotal game.
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