FOOTBALL NEWS

03/01/2013 10:17, Report by B Hibbs, A O'Connor (video)
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Preview: West Ham

Date, time and coverage: Saturday 5 January, 17:15 GMT. The match will be shown live on ITV1 in the UK. You can also follow the action live via ManUtd.com’s radio and text commentary.

Form guide: Manchester United have won eight and drawn once in the last nine domestic fixtures and have navigated a tricky festive fixture schedule with aplomb. But that glut of games places demands on fitness and freshness, so personnel changes are expected. West Ham have the security of a mid-table league position mostly due to their fine start to the season, but Sam Allardyce’s side have won only twice in their last nine fixtures – losing five of the last eight. A 2-1 victory on New Year’s Day against Norwich City, however, will have lifted spirits.

Betting: The Reds are 1.6 favourites with bwin (www.manutd.com/bet) to clinch victory at Upton Park, while the Hammers come in at odds of 5.0 for the win. A closely-fought 2-1 away triumph carries a price of 4.25 in a bwin 'multiple scores' bet - so called because it also pays out if Sir Alex Ferguson's men win 3-1 or 4-1. 

Ins and outs: Sir Alex will choose his team carefully on the back of a hectic December. Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra are certain to be rested, while Robin van Persie, who has played in more matches (21 starts, four substitute appearances) than any other Red, may too be given an afternoon off. Shinji Kagawa is in line to start, as is Tom Cleverley, and changes are expected elsewhere. West Ham are likely to be without defender George McCartney, midfielder Mohamed Diame and on-loan striker Andy Carroll through injury.

Last meeting: The teams last went head-to-head at OT in November as Robin van Persie scored after just 33 seconds to clinch a narrow 1-0 victory. The game also marked the Reds’ first clean sheet in ten games.

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