After a month on the sidelines with a thigh injury, Robin van Persie returned to training on Friday.
Van Persie is not expected to be fit for Saturday’s home match against Swansea but is expected to make his comeback soon and could be available for next Sunday’s away match at Chelsea.
Despite not being able to feature this weekend, news of Van Persie’s improved condition is a boost for Manchester United manager David Moyes, who has been without the Dutchman and his striker-partner Wayne Rooney for the last two games.
Van Persie hasn’t featured for United since the December 10th Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk. The Red Devils won that fixture 1-0 courtesy of a Phil Jones goal off a corner kick. Van Persie injured his thigh taking the corner and has since missed eight straight matches.
It’s been an injury-plagued season for the Dutch international, who prior to the thigh issue had a lingering groin issue that sidelined him for four weeks after scoring the decider against his former club Arsenal on November 5th.
United, who have lost three successive matches for the first time since 2001, have suffered seven losses in all competitions. They have yet to lose, however, when Van Persie and Rooney have started together.
Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.
[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]
Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.
Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.
AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.
Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.
Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta
Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.
[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]
At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.
The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.
Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.
Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”
The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.
- West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
- Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
- Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches
West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.
[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]
Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.
The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.
The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.
What they’re saying
West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”
Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players: “I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”
The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester
The Gunners didn’t take care of business on Thursday in Germany, but luckily they got some help from two of their other Group H counterparts.
[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks, video previews ]
Cologne defeated Arsenal, 1-0, at the RheinEnergieStadion, but Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov ended in a scoreless draw to give Arsene Wenger‘s side the top spot in the group.
The difference on the day proved to be Sehrou Guirassy’s penalty kick, which came in the 62nd minute after he had been taken down by Matthieu Debuchy a moment prior.
Arsenal were forced back early on by the hosts, with Jhon Cordoba nearly breaking the deadlock inside the opening five minutes.
Meanwhile, the Gunners struggled to break down Cologne’s defense throughout the encounter, despite having an overwhelming amount of possession.
Arsenal will close out Group H play on Dec. 7 against BATE, while Cologne battles Red Star Belgrade for a shot at reaching the Round of 32.