Sunday, 14 March 2021

Hammers Head to Old Trafford Seeking Justice

Spot the ball!

It has been a crazy season that has plenty left to give as the Hammers face the first of a series of 'six-pointers' today. Usually at this time of year that involves scrapes with fellow relegation battlers but this year it's a different story as David Moyes men travel to Ye Olde Trafford seeking precious points towards their top four campaign.

While the media continue with their rather patronising 'overachievers' label, a closer look at the season's stats reveals that West ham have every right to travel to OT with confidence.

Although Man Utd have come out on top in two previous meetings this season, both games have been close affairs that could easily have gone the other way. 

The first game at the London Stadium in December saw the Hammers dominate for two thirds of the game and taking a well deserved 1-0 lead through Tomas Soucek and almost going two up as Pablo Fornals hit the post before a controversial turning point where VAR failed to spot a speculative Man Utd clearance that was well out of play before swirling back on to the playing surface allowing Paul Pogba to score an admittedly sublime goal but one that should not have stood. With that boost, Man Utd pushed on for a more than slightly fortunate 3-1 win that left Hammers fans lamenting being once again the victims of poor offialdom.

The sides went toe to toe at Old Trafford last month in the FA cup where an understrength Hammers without Michail Antonio took it to extra time before losing out to a Scott McTominay goal. In reality, the Hammers could easily have won it as Craig Dawson almost scores with a header in the 91st minute and McTominay's goal resulted from a breakaway after a rare Declan Rice mistake when if he hadn't been dispossessed the Hammers had carved open the Red Devils down the right. Games are often decided by fine margins and Man Utd have had more than their fair share of luck in the two previous fixtures this season.

The Hammers can also feel aggrieved that the FA cup game also saw our top centre back sidelined after picking up a nasty ankle injury as Mr Charisma Anthony Martial followed through needlessly on Angelo Ogbonna, again unpunished by the referee.

On to today, the Hammers come in as underdogs but if the December game had gone the other way these sides would be level on points. Moreover, although Man Utd can point to their better goal difference as evidence of being the better performing side, in reality this is primarily accounted for by their farcical 9-0 victory over ten man Southamptom. That aside, these teams are evenly matched over the season.

Bearing that in mind, as well as the fact that Man Utd's record has been better away from Old Trafford this year, the bettings odds for the game are more than a little tempting as West ham are 18/5 against while Solksjaer's men are evens for the win.

The game could again swing on close calls. West ham will fancy their chances from set pieces, as they lead the Premiership in this regard with a whopping 14 goals. Undoubtedly Harry Maguire is a presence at corners but interestingly the Devils have only 6 goals from set pieces. David Moyes will be hoping that the game is not decided by Man Utd adding to their remarkable 8 penalties awarded so far this season. All eyes will thus be on the match referee is Mancunian Chris Kavanagh.

Hmmmm.

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