Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Ham vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – West Ham United vs. Manchester United

Venue: Boleyn Ground – Tuesday, May 10 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET)

Match Odds: West Ham 21/10 – Draw 23/10 – Man Utd 13/10

Match Preview

West Ham host Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground for the final time on Tuesday night in what is sure to be a special night for the East London club. But sentiment cannot get in the way too much with both clubs fighting for European football in their penultimate game of the season.

The Hammers will want nothing more than to win in their final game at their famous old stadium before moving over to the Olympic Stadium in time for next term. A special atmosphere is expected with the home fans set for an emotional evening.

But there is still an important match to be played. West Ham fell 4-1 at home to Swansea on Saturday, ending a ten-game unbeaten run in the league and dropped down to seventh in the table as a result.

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They know a top six place will guarantee European football next term and that is something they will be desperate to achieve after a successful campaign. Three points on Tuesday would move them back into sixth ahead of their final day trip to Stoke.

But Manchester United will arrive at the Boleyn Ground desperate for all three points themselves. Louis Van Gaal’s side are two points off Manchester City in the final Champions League spot and know this game in hand is crucial.

A win would move the Red Devils into fourth ahead of the final day, on which they host Bournemouth while City travel to Swansea.

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United are unbeaten in four in the league and have won three of those games, conceding just one goal in that time. A strong finish to the season had boosted morale and they will be out to spoil the Hammers’ party here.

History favours United in this fixture, with the Red Devils unbeaten in 14 league outings against West Ham (W11 D3).

The Hammers have not beaten United at the Boleyn Ground since 2007 but Tuesday night would be a magical time to end that record as far as the home support is concerned.

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Team News

West Ham have just the one injury concern ahead of this special game. First-choice goalkeeper Adrian will miss the rest of the season and so Darren Randolph will keep his place between the sticks. Andy Carroll is expected to lead the attack once again.

Manchester United will hope Anthony Martial can shake off a hamstring problem in time for this one. He miss Saturday’s game with Norwich and is a huge doubt. Matteo Darmian picked up an ankle injury in that game and won’t feature, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Will Keane also remain out. Marouane Fellaini is suspended, while Luke Shaw and Phil Jones are not yet match fit. Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Daley Blind will expect to return to the starting lineup.

Key Points

West Ham’s last five: D/D/W/W/L

Manchester United’s last five: L/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: This will be West Ham’s 384th and final Premier League match at the Boleyn Ground. They will take their overall points haul from the stadium to 601 with a victory here (W167 D97 L119).

Key Player: Wayne Rooney – It will be a special night for the entire West Ham team but also for Manchester United captain Rooney. He has scored more goals against the Hammers than any other United player (12 in 17 matches) and has netted seven of those at the Boleyn Ground – the stadium in which he happened to make his England debut as a 17-year-old in 2003. He will be out to spoil the West Ham party on Tuesday evening.

Score Prediction

West Ham 2-2 Manchester United – This should be a special night of Premier League football for so many reasons. Both need three points from Tuesday’s game and so an exciting and attacking match is expected. Both sides will be confident of finding the net but it seems impossible to split them. The only top half side to have beaten West Ham at home this season is Leicester, while United have only won one of five trips to London so far. A loss would be a major blow for either and with so much to play for, a rather unhelpful score draw seems likely.


Playoff Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Real Salt Lake

LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake meet again in the reverse leg of their Western Conference playoff semi-final at the StubHub Center on Sunday.

This second leg is so delicately poised after a hard-fought goalless draw in the blustery wind at the Rio Tinto Stadium last weekend, much to the credit of the Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who kept them in it.

The onus will very much be on LA Galaxy to produce after they’ve now gone four games without a win if you include the three games at the end of the regular season and have hit a stale run of form at the worst possible time.

The Galaxy have drawn two and lost two of the last four and it equals their worst run of form since the turn of April in to May when they went on a four game winless streak, also recording two draws and two defeats.

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[Jaime Penedo kept his side in it last time out]

LA will be looking to their strong home form and desperately hoping that it’s going to come up trumps for them once again.

With just one home defeat in the entire regular season, they will take some confidence from that, but they need to win this game or they risk being eliminated on away goals.

LA Galaxy’s home form: Played 17 – Won 12 – Drawn 4 – Lost 1

Real Salt Lake will come away from the first-leg with mixed emotions after they spurned the opportunity to take a lead with them to LA.

They dominated the majority of their home game but couldn’t capitalise on it and it may come back to haunt them.

However, a 0-0 draw at home is never a bad result in the first-leg as they know that a score draw sees them through on the away goal rule.

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[Main man: Joao Plata has had a great season for RSL]

They haven’t won on the road for six games since a 1-0 win in Colorado at the beginning of August, so they’ll be thankful that a draw could be enough to see them home.

Real Salt Lake’s away form: Played 17 – Won 4 – Drawn 6 – Lost 7

With the game on such a knife edge, it promises excitement and drama, especially as the newly introduced away goals rule may well play a crucial role in the final outcome.

Many will be expecting another tightly contested game and it could take a moment of magic or a moment of madness from someone to turn the tide in favour of either side.

Extra-time and penalties are looming if we see a repeat result of last weekend’s game, so can either side take the initiative?

Key Player: Landon Donovan – he will be desperate to ensure that this isn’t his last ever game for LA Galaxy and there isn’t a better moment for him to shine.

Key Stat: These two sides have only produced four goals in their last four meetings so we expect another cagey affair.

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/L/D/L/D

Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/D/W/D

Prediction: LA Galaxy 1 – 1 Real Salt Lake – The Galaxy to suffer the pain of an away goals defeat for the first time in Major League Soccer.

Playoff Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy

Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy will meet in a Western Conference heavyweight clash at the Rio Tinto Stadium in their playoff semi-final first leg on Saturday night.

Both sides share a vast experience of competing in the MLS Cup, so they’re certainly no strangers to the responsibility and pressure that comes with playoff matches.

Real Salt Lake were runners-up in the final last year following a penalty shootout defeat to Sporting Kansas City after they had tied the game 1-1 and have qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs every season since 2008.

They won the competition in 2009 when they beat LA Galaxy on penalties – their only MLS Cup title to date.

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Real Salt Lake will look to their home advantage to try and get themselves ahead in this tie as their form at the Rio Tinto Stadium has been excellent this year, with 11 wins and just the one defeat.

Real Salt Lake’s home form: Played 17 – Won 11 – Drawn 5 – Lost 1

LA Galaxy are the joint most successful team in the history of the MLS Cup alongside DC United with both sides having won four titles.

However, the Galaxy were dumped out of the competition at this stage last year by the same opponents, losing 2-1 on aggregate, so they will be looking to avoid a repeat performance.

They will also have to recover from their Supporters’ Shield disappointment after their 2-0 defeat against Seattle Sounders in the last game of the season saw them finish in second place, while the Sounders lifted the title.

They’ve struggled for consistency away from home and their last win on the road was a 3-0 win at Chivas USA on September 1, so the key will be to keep it tight on Saturday night.

LA Galaxy’s away form: Played 17 – Won 5 – Drawn 6 – Lost 6

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It’s crucial to still be alive in the tie when the second leg comes around, so neither side will want to hand the initiative to the opposition, so this should make for a tense but entertaining affair.

Key Player: Alvaro Saborio – Real Salt Lake’s Costa-Rican forward has been in fine form this season, having scored 8 goals from just 13 starts. He boasts the best goals-per-game ratio for the home side and if he plays a part, he could make the difference.

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have faced Real Salt Lake twice before in the MLS Cup and have been on the losing end both times:

  • 2013 – Western Conference semi-final – Real Salt Lake 2-1 LA Galaxy (aggregate score)
  • 2009 – MLS Cup Final – Real Salt Lake 1-1 LA Galaxy (Real Salt Lake won 5-4 on penalties)

Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/L/W/D/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: W/W/L/D/L

Prediction: Real Salt Lake 1 – 1 LA Galaxy

Playoff Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Vancouver Whitecaps

FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps have both earned their spot in the playoff positions after successful regular seasons in the Western Conference but the dress rehearsals are over and now it’s time for the real thing as they clash in the knockout round at the Toyota Stadium on Wednesday.

Dallas are appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 when they fell at this stage, losing 2-0 to New York Red Bulls – they were MLS Cup runners-up in 2010 which is the furthest they’ve ever been.

They’ve finished the regular season with slight inconsistency with four wins and five defeats from their last nine games.

Dallas met with Vancouver twice in the closing stages of the season, winning 2-1 at home in September and losing 2-0 away in October, so this is a game that couldn’t be harder to predict and should make for a fascinating tie.

FC Dallas home form: Played 17 – Won 12 – Drawn 1 – Lost 4

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Vancouver’s only appearance in the playoffs came in the 2012 season when they were beaten 2-1 in the knockout round by LA Galaxy so they will be hoping to make it through to the semi-finals this time around.

As the regular season was nearing its conclusion, Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey stressed the importance of going into the playoffs in a good run of form and they’ve certainly done that, winning four and drawing one of their last five games.

Picking up victories on the road has proven to be a slight issue for the Canadian outfit, but they don’t lose too many games either, so if they don’t win this in 90 minutes, they may be able to force extra-time and penalties.

Vancouver Whitecaps away form: Played 17 – Won 3 – Drawn 9 – Lost 5

This game marks the beginning of the MLS Cup 2014, so let’s hope these two sides can set the tone with an entertaining spectacle.

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Key Player: Pedro Morales – The Whitecaps playmaker has been crucial to their success this season (10 goals, 12 assists) and a lot of responsibility will fall on his shoulders again.

Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have never beaten FC Dallas at the Toyota Stadium – is there a first time for everything?

FC Dallas last five: W/L/W/W/L

Vancouver Whitecaps last five: W/W/W/D/W

Prediction: FC Dallas 0 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps