West Ham are safe from the drop, but Kevin Hatchard isn't convinced they'll be able to withstand pressure from a wounded Manchester United...
"West Ham have the joint-worst defensive record in the league, and have generally struggled at home to elite teams this season."
West Ham United v Manchester United
Thursday May 10, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Hammers safe, but no need to put up the bunting
After a season set against the aural backdrop of wailing and gnashing of teeth, West Ham are safe from the drop. Manager David Moyes deserves some credit for hauling them over the finish line with a week of the season to spare, having taken the claret and blue baton from a seemingly broken Slaven Bilic. However, as Moyes prepares to face his old club Manchester United, he knows there is much to be done to convince Hammers fans that he's the right man to take the club forward. Indeed, the board are yet to make a decision on whether to offer the Scot a new contract.
Injury problems haven't helped the cause, and the oft-toxic atmosphere at the London Stadium isn't exactly conducive to sustained success on home soil. Now the real work begins, as the powerbrokers at West Ham must work to add to the squad so that the club doesn't sleepwalk into another relegation battle.
The Hammers have only lost two of their last eight home games, but they were painfully outclassed by Manchester City recently in a 4-1 home defeat, and they have also lost 3-2 at home to Spurs and 4-1 at home to Liverpool. Burnley, Newcastle and Brighton have also left Stratford with maximum points this term.
Winston Reid, Pedro Obiang and Michail Antonio are all still out, so Moyes could select the same side that secured safety with a 2-0 win at Leicester at the weekend.
Mourinho will turn the screw after Brighton debacle
It seems extraordinary that Manchester United have reached the FA Cup final and seem almost certain to secure second place in the Premier League, and yet have turned in so many below-par displays. They have somehow contrived to lose away at all three promoted clubs this season (they were beaten 1-0 at Brighton in their most recent match), and their abject exit to an average Sevilla side in the Champions League will sting even more if old foes Liverpool win the competition.
That said, Jose Mourinho will argue that he is on the cusp of winning a third trophy in two seasons, and that he is delivering United's best league placing since they last won the title in 2013. He also rarely allows his charges to string two awful results together - United haven't suffered back-to-back defeats all season. Indeed, if you look at the Red Devils' first six league losses of the campaign, they have followed every single one with a victory.
There are cup final places up for grabs, and Mourinho is expected to mix things up after that loss in Brighton. Alexis Sanchez could return from injury.
There's a temptation to run a mile from Manchester United, given their price of [1.85] for the win. However, I actually think they will take maximum points.
West Ham have really struggled against elite teams this term, and while Moyes has steadied the ship sufficiently, it says a lot that the club's bosses aren't falling over themselves to give him a new deal. The Hammers have the joint-worst defensive record in the league, and they've only won two of their last nine matches.
Mourinho usually gets a response from United after a defeat, and his players certainly won't lack motivation. I'll back the away win.
Seven of West Ham's last 11 league games have featured three goals or more, and given their awful defensive record, Over 2.5 Goals is always worth considering.
Manchester United have scored at least twice in nine of their last 12 matches, and on that basis I'd lean towards backing overs at [1.94].
Kevin Hatchard 2017-18 English Football P/L
Points Staked: 56
Points Returned: 86.31
P/L: +30.31 points