Premier League Preview: West Ham vs Manchester United

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  • Manchester United has 9 wins and 1 draw in last 10 matches with West Ham.
  • West Ham has the most dropped points (17) from winning positions in the Premier League.
  • West Ham have won 3 in a row at home – they haven’t won 4 in a row since 2002…over Sam Allardyce’s Bolton.

Manchester United is Danny Welbeck’s team now.

He will likely be up front when Manchester United travel to Upton Park to take on West Ham at 1:00ET on Saturday on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

Following Robin van Persie’s Champions League miracle against Olympiakos midweek that has given some light to the darkness of United’s season, it will be Welbeck up front for the forseeable future.

The hero of Manchester United’s Champions League fortunes injured his knee midweek and is likely out for 4-6 weeks, meaning it will be a heavy dose of Welbeck up front. The Premier League season is all but lost for the Red Devils, but David Moyes will still be pushing for European play of some form next season.

(WATCH LIVE at 1:00 ET ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA)

Despite their Champions League triumph no doubt providing a lift, United’s trip to Upton Park proves a crucial moment in the season.  Despite their well-documented league struggles, Moyes hasn’t lost since February 1 and an away win against a good home club could prove they still mean business.

For the Hammers, Sam Allardyce is hoping his home form continues with the club sitting on three straight Upton Park victories.  However, they still sit just three points above the drop and with the teams below them picking up the occasional full bounty of points, a haul against Moyes and company would be just what the doctor ordered.

While Allardyce will still be without Joey O’Brien and Marco Borriello, the visitors are clearly the more hampered by absences. Along with van Persie, Nemanja Vidic is sidelined thanks to his red card against Liverpool, and both Johnny Evans and Chris Smalling are likely misses as well thanks to injury.

What they’re saying:

Sam Allardyce on West Ham’s aims at home: “Our efforts at home are what I have been focusing on with the players. We have won the last three home games on the trot and we have to try to continue that if we can to overcome the little blip we have suffered following two away games we have taken nothing from. The focus is to maintain the home results and try our best to pull off a big win, but if we can’t come away with at least a point.”

David Moyes on using the Olympiakos performance for motivation: “I thought it was great that I could applaud the supporters on Wednesday night. In some of the other games I’ve felt ashamed because the team haven’t played well enough. The big thing was that I could look the supporters in the face after the game because I thought that we had given them something to shout about and had nothing to be ashamed of in our performance.”

Prediction:

The Olympiakos match will no doubt have United near their best.  As great as that is, problems with personnel and consistency at the back leaves many worried for any away games in the Premier League, especially to Upton Park where West Ham have been solid.  This match has Champions League hangover written all over it, and it would be easy to see United dropping points.  Without van Persie and Vidic, they give up an early shock goal and can only get enough for a 1-1 draw on the road as Sam Allardyce again holds court.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.

West Ham targeting Wilshere transfer in January

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David Moyes has stated his desire to sign Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window, as West Ham United battle relegation and attempt to secure their Premier League status for next season.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Wilshere, who’s made just five PL appearance (all as a substitute) this season for Arsenal, after spending last season on loan at Bournemouth (27 appearances, including 22 starts), will be out of contract with the Gunners in the summer and it’s looking less and less likely that the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. Thus, he would almost certainly be allowed to leave and recoup something — anything — next month.

As such, Moyes, whose West Ham side currently sits 19th in the league table after a disastrous start to the season which ultimately saw Slaven Bilic fired, sees an opportunity to bring in an international-caliber player, on the cheap, at exactly the right time — quotes from the Guardian:

“You’d hope that if you took a player from another Premier League club it’d be much easier for him to go right into the team and play well. Jack Wilshere would be someone who we’d have to look at if he was available.

“I do believe the transfer window could be the difference between relegation and staying up. If we can get the right players, that’s the big part of it.

“I also want to make sure we’re looking at players who’ve got time and who can be at the club for a long period and not just in for a short period. Then there’s also the short-term fix for me which is, how do we get enough wins between now and the end of the season? There’s a balance between that.”

Wilshere’s (waning) chances of making the England team for next summer’s World Cup undoubtedly hinge upon him playing a majority of minutes during the second half of the season and finding a patch of remarkably good form. Suffice to say, he’d likely to be quite interested in a move — especially one that would keep him in London.

Dyche: “Football is about dreams,” and this is Burnley’s

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Burnley challenging for, and ultimately finishing in, a top-four place in the Premier League would be the most unexpected outcome in England’s top flight since… well, Leicester City won the title 18 months ago.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

While the Foxes might have desensitized us with regards to what constitutes a feel-good story, one cannot simply ignore the astonishing, unexpected nature of the Clarets currently occupying fourth place in the PL table, just shy of the season’s halfway mark.

Sure, all three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a game in hand (all to be played on Wednesday) and would overtake Sean Dyche‘s side with a win, but even then “seventh-place Burnley” is a phrase that is only slightly less remarkable.

Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday, Dyche something like a romantic, referring to Burnley’s run as a “dream” given those lofty levels of overachievement — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a run of results and a start which the fans are enjoying and rightly so.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams. It’s a tough task for us winning games at this level, but Leicester blew the roof off dreams in football.”

“We found a way to win and a fine goal. We’re not the real deal, we’re a side that are improving.

“I keep reality because this division will eat you alive. We’re having a real go at what we can achieve this season.”

Report: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million

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The Geordie dream appears one giant step closer to reality after Amanda Staveley has reportedly made a significantly larger bid in her attempt to purchase Newcastle United from long-embattled owner Mike Ashley.

[ TIMELINE: Ashley puts club up for sale | Staveley’s first bid rejected ]

According to multiple reports out of the UK — the Telegraph offers the most information at this time — Staveley has increased her initial offer from $335 million to today’s $400-million figure which is expected to be enough to convince Ashley to accept and bring to an end his decade-long, rocky relationship with the Toon Army.

Ashley purchased the club for $177 million back in 2007 and has reportedly invested somewhere in the neighborhood of another $177 million, in the form of interest-free loans, during his stewardship. He stands to make a sizable profit in light of today’s reports, though his original asking price of $534 million is nowhere close to being met.

[ STREAM: Newcastle host Everton — Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET ]

The biggest question which remains — now that will he or won’t he sell? appears to have been answered — is how quickly the deal can be completed, thus allowing Staveley to back manager Rafa Benitez during the January transfer window. Once the two sides enter into deeper takeover talks and the process of transferring ownership from one to the other begins, a transfer embargo will be activated.

Benitez and Ashley traded verbal jabs over the club’s transfer dealings — or, lack thereof — in the summer, and the Spaniard has again this week insisted significant investment is needed in January, otherwise the Magpies could very well be relegated, once again. After a strong start to the season, Newcastle are winless in their last seven Premier League games (six losses) and have tumbled to 16th in the league table, now just two points clear of the relegation zone.