Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 13/10
The unexpected home loss to Swansea effectively ended West Ham’s Champions League dream, but they still have the opportunity to influence the top 4 chase and do Manchester City a favour by preventing Manchester United from winning at Boleyn Ground. The Red Devils would leapfrog their local rivals by defeating the Hammers, and that should be enough incentive to give their best in the midweek fixture.
Regardless of weekend’s disappointment, this will go down as a very successful season for West Ham, but the Hammers will also feel they have missed a perfect opportunity to secure an unlikely top 4 finish. While the Manchester rivals both failed to win the previous weekend, Slaven Bilic’s men revived their Champions League hopes with a resounding victory at the Hawthorns, and they were then expected to have an easy job against indifferent Swansea in their penultimate game at Boleyn Ground. Had they recorded a win, the Hammers would have a decent chance of securing a top 4 berth in the final two games, but they instead produced the worst performance of the season and eventually had to settle for a 4-1 loss. In what will be their last game at the current venue before they move to Olympic Stadium next season, West Ham will face Champions League contenders Manchester United and there are no doubts Slaven Bilic will demand a response after the embarrassing defeat to Swansea. However, the reality is the Hammers have largely struggled in the last couple of months and they will have to show a massive improvement at the back if they want to avoid another disappointment.
First choice keeper Adrian Martinez continues to miss out through a calf problem, meaning Darren Randolph will continue to deputise.
There are no other selection worries for manager Slaven Bilic, but he is widely expected to make a couple of changes to his starting line-up.
The way they were playing in the first part of the season would not suggest that Manchester United had any chance of achieving a top 4 finish, but the Red Devils showed plenty of improvement after the turn of the year, while also taking advantage of Manchester City’s preoccupation with Champions League campaign. The return of Wayne Rooney offered another major boost, with Man Utd not only securing a place in the FA Cup final, but also emerging as favourites for the final Champions League berth. While Man City could only muster a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, the Red Devils did well to defeat relegation-threatened Norwich City, taking matters into their own hands. Louis van Gaal’s charges are now certain to qualify for Europe’s elite competition if they win the remaining two fixtures, and this is probably the right time to be facing West Ham, who are shaken by the heavy loss to Swansea and under pressure not to embarrass themselves on farewell to Upton Park. The visitors should also have two important players back to the side and they do look like favourites to win this one.
Louis van Gaal should have Marcus Rashford back to the side, but both Anthony Martial and Matteo Darmian have been ruled out.
Marouane Fellaini is out through suspension, whereas Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw are not yet ready to return from injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Man Utd are unbeaten in last 12 matches vs West Ham (W7 D5)
- The Red Devils won an FA Cup game at Boleyn Ground in April
- Both teams scored in four of their last five meetings
- Both teams scored in nine of West Ham’s last ten games
- The Hammers conceded 12 goals in last five home fixtures
It will not be easy for West Ham to recover from such a disappointing defeat and it is clear the game comes at a bad time for the Hammers. Meanwhile, Manchester United have stabilised their form of late and we don’t think they will miss an excellent opportunity to finally climb to top 4 positions.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 13/10