Following the elation of Wednesday’s memorable victory against Olympiacos where Manchester United overturned a 2-0 first leg deficit to ensure safe passage to the quarter finals, the focus now shifts back to the Premier League with a trip to West Ham.
A 3-0 victory against the Greeks in midweek was a rare highlight of a dismal 2014 so far where United have won just four league games out of ten in the league and defeat against Liverpool all but ended any lingering hopes of Champions League qualification via fourth place.
The win against Olympiacos has bought David Moyes valuable time but the momentum needs to be retained despite little riding on our remaining league fixtures with Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals only a week and a half away.
Robin van Persie has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a knee injury so Danny Welbeck could deputise after an impressive cameo on the left hand side against Olympiacos. Jonny Evans is likely to be in contention but Nemanja Vidic is suspended.
West Ham have been something of a mixed bag this term and a crippling injury crisis over the Christmas period saw The Hammers slide down the table and Sam Allardyce has come under pressure much like Moyes.
However, the tide has turned at Upton Park. In February, they won four games including three against teams around them and Allardyce was named Premier League Manager of the Month as his side scaled the table. Their last two league games have ended in defeat but critically, at home they have been strong with three wins in a row.
Big Sam has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the contest but he could re-shuffle his pack after a disappointing 3-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium last weekend.
The sides last met in December where goals from Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young were enough to see off West Ham. The Hammers typically don’t travel well and a more realistic reflection of the challenge United will face might be the 2-2 draw in this fixture last season.
United have a fabulous record against West Ham having not lost any of their last ten top flight meetings with the Irons who have failed to score in six of their last nine meetings with the Reds. However, this season has shown that records are meant to be shattered, something Moyes seems to excel at.
In truth, Moyes’ side have travelled relatively well this season by contrast to their dreadful home form and have kept three clean sheets in a row away from home and the Hammers have been rather shot-shy this term, averaging a paltry 3.2 shots on targets per match this term.
Wayne Rooney is a man who really seems to enjoy playing against West Ham and has scored seven and assisted three more in his last seven games against them and many feel he will be a key man, especially in Van Persie’s absence.
Allardyce’s side are typically renowned for their well-drilled defence but up top Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan could be dangerous for United up against what is likely to be another changed back four.
Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Manchester United