FOOTBALL NEWS

14/01/2013 13:03, Report by Ben Hibbs
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Preview: West Ham

United started impressively with quick, passing football in the first half, and Tom Cleverley gave the Reds a rightful lead. But the Hammers matched United’s erudition with eagerness - and plenty of power too. Either side of half time, James Collins’ identical headed goals from Joe Cole crosses looked to have given them victory, but that man Robin van Persie came to the rescue.

Did you know? West Ham boast a superior record in FA Cup competition against United. In nine meetings, the Hammers have won four to the Reds’ three victories, while the stalemate ten days ago is one of two draws – the subsequent replay in 1985/86’s fifth round tie ended in a 2-0 victory for West Ham as holders United crashed out.

Opposition boss: Sam Allardyce has an unenviable record against United. In 18 games against the Reds, with Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham (he didn’t face Sir Alex at Newcastle), he has won two, drawn four and lost 12. But it’s his team’s current form that will worry him more. Allardyce said after the weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Sunderland: "They opened us up far too easily. The difference in performance between this game and last week against United is staggering. We’ve got to defend better away from home.”

Star man: Despite looking, pretty much from the off against United, like he had just completed a marathon, Joe Cole still managed (or was given the time) to conjure two assists. As his sharpness improves, Big Sam says “he’s going to be a major asset. Hopefully he gets stronger and better the more games he plays.”

Sub-plots: The returning Rooney, Nani and Anderson will want to play their way into contention for some crucial

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