West Ham won't Parker the bus
West Ham United (16/5 match betting) have hauled themselves out of the relegation zone with a run of 11 points from their last six games. Their new found confidence will surely be put to the test though as the league leaders, Manchester United (5/6), visit the Boleyn Ground.
The Hammers brought Man Utd's unbeaten start to the season to an emphatic end when the two sides met in November's Carling Cup quarter final. Goals from Jonathan Spector and Carlton Cole smashed the Red Devil's aura of invincibility and despite the daunting prospect before the home side, it is a challenge that no player in claret and blue will shirk (4-0 Correct score 125/1).
West Ham's season has seemed to turn on a pivotal fifteen minutes at the Hawthorns on February 12. Trailing West Brom 3-0 and looking down the barrel of relegation, skipper and inspirational leader Scotty Parker stood to attention and delivered an awe inspiring speech that several players have since compared to that of Winston Churchill no less. Parker then followed his words with actions, dragging his team back from the brink to earn a draw (Draw 13/5).
Parker is expected to be fit to take his place in West Ham's midfield despite picking up shoulder and calf injuries when impressing while on England duty.
Going into this game with a four match unbeaten run behind them, Avram Grant will have his team pumped, with the vocal east London crowd as partisan as ever in support of their boys.
The recent league meetings between the two sides have been completely dominated by the visiting United. That aforementioned Carling Cup defeat aside, the team from Old Trafford has won the last five encounters without conceding a goal.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men have a record nineteenth league title in their sights and cannot afford to drop points in situations such as this. United are renowned for their ability to push on in the last third of the season and if this year's crop of stars can maintain their assault on the league, then they will be lifting the Premier League title come May.
There is still a long way to go though. If they are to win the title then Ferguson must address his team's away form. United have only won four of their last 15 Premier League away games and were far from convincing when defeating Bolton at Old Trafford last time out (0-1 Correct score 7/1).
Despite a lean scoring spell recently, Wayne Rooney has found West Ham very generous opposition in the past and may be a good shout to score first at 4/1 and EVS to notch anytime. United's scouse star has scored five goals in eight Premier League games for Man Utd against the Hammers.
He still trails top scorer Dimitar Berbatov (5/1 first, 5/4 anytime) and Javier Hernandez (9/2 first, 6/5 anytime) in the goal scoring charts and the latter may be given another start. The little pea has scored 10 goals this campaign from just 14 shots.
West Ham's goal scoring hopes lie on the shoulders of January signing Demba Ba. The Senegalese striker has struck four goals in four games, and can be backed at odds of 15/2 to break the deadlock and 9/2 to score at anytime. The same prices have been given to his team mates Carlton Cole and Robbie Keane.
Former Portsmouth forward Frederic Piquionne is hoping to return from the toe injury that saw him miss the draw with Tottenham and is priced at 10/3 to notch during the game
My feelings on this clash are that it will be a very tough day for Man Utd. West Ham are fighting for their lives and will be up for a scrap against their more glamorous opponents. I would back the draw/Man Utd selection in the double result market at 7/2 or a more speculative bet is Manchester United to come from behind at half time in the West Ham/Man Utd selection at 22s.