West Ham welcome Manchester United to Upton Park (March 22, 10:30 AM Pacific) in a fixture that has always traditionally been filled with incident.
On the back of the 3-0 victory against Olympiakos in which Van Persie scored a hat-trick, United have been rocked by the news that he is likely to be absent for up to 6 weeks with a knee strain. This will mean he is out of the derby and the intimidating fixtures against Europe’s best domestic side currently in Bayern Munich.
Van Persie could be a big miss, although it remains to be seen exactly how this will effect things. The truth is that the combination of Mata, Rooney and Van Persie has been pretty far from setting the world alight, and despite the 3 goals in mid-week, few could argue that his performances prior to that had been less than impressive.
Welbeck will come in and will add another dimension to United’s attacking play. Clearly he hasn’t got the finishing ability or assured touch of the Dutchman, but what he lacks there he more than makes up for with enthusiasm and relentless work rate.
West Ham Team News
Sam Allardyce has guided West Ham to the brink of safety, although he knows the job is not quite done yet. Considering their perilous position at the turn of the year, the remarkable uplift in fortunes can be directly attributed to the return of Andy Carroll and the return to form of Kevin Nolan. West Ham only have two absentees, Boriello and O’Brien.
Manchester United Team News
With Van Persie joining Smalling and Evans on the sidelines, United will be forced into tables twine change. Knowing Moyes as we do, there will probably be a few more. Giggs has historically enjoyed playing at Upton Park, but two games in a row may be seen to be too much for him at this stage. Fellaini or Cleverley will probably get the nod in midfield alongside Carrick. Vidic begins his suspension here so Ferdinand and Jones will resume their partnership at the heart of defence for the Red Devils.
West Ham vs Manchester United Prediction
Can United follow up a good result with another? The games at Upton Park have always been challenging and Andy Carroll will bully the two centre backs if he is on form. Too often United have failed to follow up a good result with a second, but Moyes will be hoping to reverse this here. West Ham need the points having lost their last two, United have Man City coming up at Old Trafford on Tuesday, and Moyes will undoubtedly have one eye on that as he tries to avoid another humiliation as suffered at the Etihad. West Ham can get something from this game without a doubt and they will be encouraged by the fact that Van Persie is missing.
Prediction: West Ham United 2 – 1 Manchester United
Television Info: NBC Sports Network (US), and Sky Sports 1 HD (UK).