Welbeck

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.

West Ham loses ex-Hammer of the Year Cresswell for four months

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Aaron Cresswell was one of the stalwarts of the last two Premier League campaigns, a good crosser capable of lung-busting runs and the occasional brilliant shot.

So it’s a significant blow for West Ham United to be without him for the next four months.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Cresswell has played in 75 of the Hammers’ 76 PL matches since arriving from Ipswich Town in 2014, and was injured in a 50/50 play against Karlsruher SC this weekend.

He may not need surgery to repair the knee ligaments, but is out nonetheless.

From WHUFC.com:

Head of Medical and Sports Science Stijn Vandenbroucke explained that Cresswell had undergone a scan and will consult a specialist in central London early next week. The medical team will then take a decision whether or not the defender requires surgery.

“Whatever course of action we decide to take, Aaron faces a period of rest, followed by treatment and rehabilitation and he will be out for a period of between three and four months,” said Vandenbroucke.

Left back isn’t a position of strength for most teams, and West Ham doesn’t look to be an exception.
Vandenbroucke also issued an update on Manuel Lanzini, saying the club won’t know his status until the attacker returns from Argentina duty. Lanzini was injured with Argentina’s Olympic team while preparing for the Games in Rio.

 

Borchers ruptures achilles tendon, leaving Timbers without best back

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 10:  Nat Borchers #7 of Portland Timbers passes the ball against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the first half of their MLS match at StubHub Center on April 10, 2016 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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FOX analyst Stu Holden said it right after it happened, and it’s true: Nat Borchers has torn his achilles tendon and is out for the season.

The Portland Timbers back with the big burly beard was injured late in the first half, and had to be stretchered off the pitch. Amobi Okugo took his place for the rest of the match, which finished 2-1 to the Galaxy.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

It’s a big blow for the Timbers, whose regular season struggles are an annual occurrence. The 2015 MLS Champions are currently in the West’s seventh position, and Borchers has been one of their best players in each of the last two seasons.

Borchers is 35, and in his second season with the Oregon set after 211 appearances for Real Salt Lake.

The achilles is a brutal injury to return from at any age. Whenever, he’s done Borchers will exit MLS in the select company of winning an MLS Cup for at least two different teams in separate decades (2009-RSL, 2015-PDX).

Aubameyang admits there’s one club that could move him: Real Madrid

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund is tackled by Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates Stadium on November 26, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is among the best strikers in the world, and somehow doesn’t get as much praise as his peers.

If he ever gets his dream transfer, that would certainly change.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Aubameyang, 27, is contracted to Borussia Dortmund until 2020, but admitted there’s a club that could make him antsy.

The reigning African Player of the Year — he of the 39 goals in 46 matches last season — is loving his time at Borussia Dortmund. That said, Real Madrid.

From EUROSport:

“The only club to leave Borussia Dortmund for is Real Madrid. But not now.

“Sometime I want to play for Real Madrid, which is one of my big goals in my career. But at the moment everything is great.”

Aubameyang could approach otherworldly numbers next season — we’re thinking 50-plus goals — with the additions of Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle to BVB’s already strong squad (which did lose Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mats Hummels this offseason).

And with Ousmane Dembele in the fold and looking very good, perhaps BVB is prepared to reap the rewards of an Aubameyang sale after this season?

Big day in Stoke: Potters capture Joe Allen and Egyptian prodigy

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Stoke City got one for now and another for the future on Monday, announcing the purchase of Joe Allen from Liverpool and Ramadan Sobhi from Al Alhy.

Allen, 26, had been with the Reds since 2012 after more than a decade in the ranks of Swansea City. The midfielder helped Wales into the semifinals of EURO 2016.

[ MORE: Does Pogba match his fee? ]

Swansea was linked with matching Stoke’s bid, but Allen moves onto a new home at the Britannia Stadium.

From Stoke City’s site:

Chief Executive Tony Scholes said: “Joe is a player that Mark has admired for a considerable amount of time. Therefore when we became aware of the possibility of bringing him to the Club it was something that we were determined to do.

Sobhi, 19, is a lesser known entity full of promise. At 19, he already had six caps and a goal for Egypt, and has made 71 appearances with 17 goals for Al Alhy in the Egyptian Premier League.

The fee could reach $7 million with incentives.

From Stoke City’s site:

“We are absolutely delighted to have signed a player of Ramadan’s undoubted quality and potential. He’s a special young talent who is excited about the prospect of making an impact in the Premier League and we’re looking forward to giving him that platform.”

Stoke has quietly been amassing assets for some time, and made a strong push last season before finishing ninth. If Allen can combine well with Giannelli Imbula, perhaps Stoke can continue its rise up the PL pecking order.