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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Manchester United can conquer West Ham in London

Hammers' defensive record is shocking

Man Utd's Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event, 7.45pm Thursday

The best teams respond positively to an isolated poor result and Manchester United can show their powers of resilience by beating West Ham at the London Stadium.

United were as poor as they have been all season in their 1-0 loss at Brighton last Friday.

It was their seventh defeat of the top-flight campaign but all of the previous six have been followed up by league victories and they look solid odds-on favourites to dispatch a West Ham side who are no longer at risk of relegation.

West Ham's survival was secured by a well-deserved 2-0 victory at Leicester on Saturday, ending a sequence of five games without success.

However, it has been another tough campaign for the Irons, whose 38-point tally is seven below the 45-point mark they achieved last term.

Marko Arnautovic has been the main man, scoring ten league goals, but his fitness may be in doubt after he suffered a knock and was substituted in the 79th minute of the win at Leicester.

Attacking alternatives are threadbare with Michail Antonio injured, Javier Hernandez (knee) doubtful, and Andy Carroll short of match fitness, having not started for more than four months.

With the goal threat reduced, West Ham have to rely on their defence and try to replicate the concentration and intensity levels shown at Leicester.

However, the Hammers' defensive record, with 67 goals conceded, is the joint-worst in the division – alongside relegated Stoke – and they have a habit of caving in against the big teams.

They have conceded four goals in three of their last four meetings with top-six teams and lost 4-0 to United at Old Trafford in their opening match of the campaign.

From a United perspective this looks an easier fixture than the one they lost at Brighton.

This time the Red Devils will not be up against a team fighting for their survival and the onus is on them to produce a much better performance than the tame, disjointed effort at the Amex.

Just one more point is needed for United to secure second place but their main motivating factor is the FA Cup final against Chelsea which is only nine days away.

Several Red Devils players could do with a good performance to ink themselves on to the Wembley teamsheet and there are longer-term factors at play with Jose Mourinho starting to think about his squad for next season.

In any case, recent history tells us that United do not lose back-to-back games and that trend should be extended by a victory over the Hammers.

Manchester Utd
1pt 5-6 bet365, Betway

Premier League standings

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Team news
West Ham
Javier Hernandez (knee) is a doubt and Winston Reid (knee), Sam Byram (ankle) and Michail Antonio (hamstring) are out. James Collins (hamstring) and Joe Hart (illness) could return to the squad.

Manchester Utd
Alexis Sanchez and Phil Jones return to contention but Marouane Fellaini (muscle strain) and Romelu Lukaku (ankle) are out.

Key stat
West Ham have won only one of their last 12 games against top-six opposition.

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From a United perspective this looks an easier fixture than the one they lost at Brighton
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