Premier League: Manchester United vs. West Ham
After a shock defeat to Everton, Manchester United will be eager to punish their next opponents West Ham and move to within one point of Premier League leaders Chelsea. The Toffees claimed a 3-1 victory over the Red Devils last Saturday with goals from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell.
Gianfranco Zola’s side, on the other hand, will be aiming for a third straight victory and a third consecutive clean sheet. The Hammers’ recent win over Hull City bolstered their hopes of avoiding the EPL drop this season, but tonight, they will face a tougher challenge against the defending champions than that posed by the Tigers.
Considering that West Ham hasn’t won any of its last 12 games away from home in the EPL, the Red Devils will undoubtedly be confident of a positive result. But a loss against the Hammers will mean that United will have an uphill task to keep the title this season.
With the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa approaching, Sir Alex Ferguson might be tempted to give Wayne Rooney a rest and use Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen tonight, but he has named his top striker in the squad.
Centre back Rio Ferdinand is available after completing a four-match ban and could start alongside Nemanja Vidic who is fit again after a leg problem. However, Nani is banned and Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves and John O’Shea are all sidelined because of injury.
The match kicks-off at 20:00 GMT (3:00 p.m. ET).
UPDATE: Wayne Rooney scored twice and Michael Owen added another goal as the Red Devils defeated West Ham 3-0. Rooney’s headed double took his season’s tally to 27 and United moved a point behind leaders Chelsea.
[Image credit: Wikimedia Commons]