Match Preview

Hammers Welcome Red Devils To London Stadium On Farewell Boleyn Anniversary

In a Premier League matchday 31 fixture that was re-arranged from mid-March to be played four days before the 2017/2018 season’s final day, David Moyes faces off with his former club Manchester United under Jose Mourinho, with his West Ham United side, in what promises to be an intriguing battle.

The Hammers go into the clash full of confidence after securing their Top-Flight safety with a convincing win away at Leicester City last weekend, while the Red Devils’ mentality is quite the opposite in the wake of last Friday night’s disappointing narrow away loss at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion, the visitors are the slight favourites for this one.

When?

The encounter is scheduled to get underway at 7:45 PM BST this evening (Thursday 10 May 2018), with live television coverage in the United Kingdom being provided by Sky Sports, on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.

There will also be live radio commentary being offered in the UK by TalkSport and BBC Radio London, but if you can’t get to a TV or radio device this evening, never fear, you can stay with us right here on West Ham Matters as we Live Blog the fixture, bringing you live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction, live from the Press Box of the London Stadium, and starting at 5:45 PM BST.

Where?

The visit of Mourinho’s Red Devils will take place at the home club’s London Stadium, with a capacity of 57,000 and the option to go high into the 70,000s, it is one of the most spectacular and newest arenas in English football.

Originally opening in 2012 for the London Olympics, the ground has now been a Premier League stadium for nearly two years, and as well as football hosted rugby, athletics and concerts among other events, but hasn’t always been popular with supporters who were reluctant to leave the Irons’ former home of the Boleyn Ground.

Their discontent was catalysed early in this season when the first-team stars, then under Slaven Bilic, were forced to play the first four games of the season away from home due to Stratford hosting the World Athletics Championships and World Para Athletics Championships.

But, the stadium is slowly starting to feel more like home for the Claret & Blue Army, and today will be only the second time that the team from Manchester have visited Stratford, triumphing 0-2 thanks to goals from Juan Mata and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their only previous visit in January 2017.

Team News:

In his pre-Manchester United press conference at Rush Green training ground on Thursday afternoon, home manager Moyes confirmed that there would be one player returning to his matchday squad and one player remaining sidelined.

The star still out is ex-United striker Javier Hernandez, who continues to suffer with a knee injury, but goalkeeper Joe Hart has returned from illness, although it will be a surprise if he was to displace Adrian San-Miguel from the start, Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang, having returned from injury to the substitutes’ bench last weekend, could start his first match since January.

Meanwhile, visiting boss Mourinho confirmed, in his own press conference, that he has been dealt a double injury blow ahead of the trip to the capital, with two of his main men still out from the American Express Community Stadium defeat.

These came in the form of attackers Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, the latter of which has an impressive scoring record against West Ham, however, much like Moyes’ update, there was also some positive news in the form of defender Phil Jones and new signing Alexis Sanchez being fit for the match, the Hammers will be on high alert, as a result.

Form:

The first-teams of West Ham United and Manchester United have met before, a staggering 138 times in a fixture that has been being contested since all the way back in the year of 1911.

Unsurprisingly, tonight’s visitors have enjoyed relative dominance in this meeting down the years and out of that momentous number of games, have triumphed on 65 occasions to the East Londoners’ 43, the spoils and points have been shared in 30 of the clashes.

Ironically, the date of the 139th meeting falls exactly two years after the clubs’ 134th meeting, significant for being the Hammers’ final ever first-team match at their famous previous stadium of Upton Park, on that night, the East London outfit came from two goals down inside the final 15 minutes to claim a memorable 3-2 victory, can they be inspired by those memories?

Last time out, in August 2017 at Old Trafford, United reigned supreme over Bilic’s Irons to the tune of 4-0, accelerating to the thrashing courtesy of a Lukaku double and goals from Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, the team from the North West have won four of the last six between these two.

The Opposition:

Manchester United Football Club was formed in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR FC and then switched to what it is known as today in 1902, since then, becoming perhaps the most famous and most recognisable teams in world football, certainly one of the most successful.

From humble roots, the Red Devils have lifted a staggering 20 English Top-Flights, more than any other side, 12 FA Cups, five League Cups, 21 Community Shields, one European Cups Winners’ Cup, European Super Cup and UEFA Europa League, not to mention three UEFA Champions League, the majority of these coming during the remarkable 27-year reign of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.

However, since the retirement of Ferguson, three managers have come and gone, one them being current opposing boss Moyes and the team have been nowhere near as successful, failing to finish higher than fourth and only lifting three trophies in the five years, last season’s League Cup and Europa League and the season before’s FA Cup.

Nowadays, under former Barcelona and Chelsea gaffer Mourinho, United have enjoyed a second consecutive successful season, currently sitting second in the PL standings, where they will finish, baaing a significant goal difference swing on the final day, and have an FA Cup final meeting with the Blues on the horizon, their league position is currently a full 13 places and 39 points in front of their opponent’s.

Who Is Officiating?

Experienced Select Group referee Jon Moss will be the man in the middle in Stratford on this Thursday night, assisting him will be the duo of Eddie Smart and Harry Lennard, and fellow Premier League referee Kevin Friend is set to take up the Fourth Official’s role.

So, now that the London Stadium scene has been well and truly set for an exciting night of action under the lights, can Moyes claim his first managerial victory over Maurine and give Hammers fans an evening to remember on their special anniversary?

Or, will the Red Devils roll into town and spoil the party, thus securing second place in the process with a valuable three points? Think you know? Be sure to find us on Twitter @WestHamMatters_ to cast your score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.