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.


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.”


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.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.