MUFC v WEST HAM Preview

By Brayden May

Kick Off: 7:45pm (English Time)

Referee: Mike Dean

Manchester United will be hoping to spoil the West Ham United party mid-week as the Hammers prepare to bid farewell to the Boleyn Ground ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium next season.

The Red Devils have a chance to move into the top four with a victory following Manchester City’s draw with Arsenal on Sunday, which left United two points adrift of the lucrative fourth Champions League position.

Victory in the remaining two games against the Hammers and Bournemouth on Sunday at Old Trafford would ensure a top four finish regardless of City’s result against Swansea City in their final game of the season at the weekend.

For West Ham a win would move them back into the top six heading into the final game of the season at the weekend, with their own European dreams very much in their own hands.

The match gives both sides the opportunity to move closer to their goals of European football for next season, with United hoping to reach the Champions League at the expense of their city rivals.

The pair met less than a month ago in an FA Cup quarter-final replay as United prevailed 2-1 away from home thanks to goals from youngster Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini before James Tomkins scored a late consolation goal for the Hammers.

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In the league earlier in the season, the points were shared between the two sides at Old Trafford as either side failed to find the back of the net in early December.

The Red Devils will be hoping to improve on their win from the weekend as they defeated Norwich 1-0 win away from home thanks to a goal from Juan Mata, a result which left the Canaries staring down the barrel of relegation back to the Championship next season.

On what is sure to be an emotion charged night for the home side they will be looking for a much better performance after they were routed 4-1 by Swansea City in their first lost in the league since early February, a result which left the Irons top four hopes hanging by a thread.

United manager Louis van Gaal is well aware of the dangers presented by a who is preparing to say goodbye to their home of the past 112 years as he said “It will be a big night and an emotional night for them. It [playing the final game at the Boleyn Ground] is a negative for us. We have to play against an opponent who says goodbye to the stadium so they don’t want to lose.”.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic remained adamant he side must remained focused despite the big occasion saying “It will be an emotional night, but the fact that it is the final ever game makes it even more special and we have to stay cool and stay focused because we want to win the game”.

In team news the Reds will remain without Marouane Fellaini through suspension, while Matteo Darmian (ankle) and Anthony Martial (hamstring) are both expected to miss the mid-week game following injuries at the weekend.

Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger both remain on the long-term injury list and are not expected to appear for the rest of the season.

The home side are set to have a fully fit squad following no fresh injury concerns from the game at the weekend against Swansea City.

The Red Devils have had a recent dominance over the Hammers both home and away in recent seasons having not lost any of their past fourteen games against the East London side.

Twenty-time top-flight champions United have held the upper hand over the Hammers away from home in recent years having not lost a league game at Upton Park since 2007, a run of six matches.

West Ham’s case has not been helped the fact they have failed to score in eight of the previous thirteen matches against the Red Devils.

Three of the past five matches between the pair have ended in a share of the points for either side, as did the last Premier League meeting at the Boleyn Ground with the game ending 1-1 thanks to goals from Cheikhou Kouyate for the home side before a late equaliser from Daley Blind.

In a game which is sure to be full of emotion both sides will expect nothing less than a win as both go in search of guaranteeing European football for next season.

@braydenmay

 

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