West Ham United v Manchester United Saturday, 12:30 Live on BT Sport 1
Irons in fightback mode
Things change quickly in football. Just ask West Ham, who were in full doom-and-gloom mode at the start of the month after starting the season with four straight losses. But they shook off the dust with a stirring win away to Everton, were unlucky to follow it up with a win over Chelsea, and put eight goals past Macclesfield in midweek. Suddenly, the mood is altogether improved.
It would be misguided to read too much into the Macclesfield result, of course, but it was a handy confidence booster for a few squad players. The return of Marko Arnautović, who has missed the last couple of games, is also great news; he should lead the line, with Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko also returning to the attack at the London Stadium.
But arguably it's the midfield that has been the key to West Ham's improvement. Jack Wilshere's injury prompted a switch to a three-man engine room, and Pedro Obiang and Declan Rice have added energy and subtlety since breaking into the team. They could shape a key battle against Manchester United.
Soap opera season at United
Paul Pogba and José Mourinho. José Mourinho and Paul Pogba. It's a dance as old as... well, it's only been going for a few months, to be honest, but it already feels like a fixture. A weirdly inconsequential one, at that: two giant egos arm wrestling on the lookout deck of the Titanic as the whole thing goes under. Who will win? And what will be left when he does?
That is perhaps a bit too negative given United are unbeaten since August and won three games on the trot prior to last weekend's 1-1 draw with Wolves. But they were outplayed in that game and weren't much better against Derby in midweek, and the feeling that the Red Devils are only ever a game or two away from crisis grows ever stronger. That cannot be a good thing.
There are positives heading into this one. Nemanja Matić is available after serving a banin the league, while Anthony Martial showed some good form on Tuesday night. He, surely, would be a better pick than the woefully out-of-form Alexis Sánchez, although you'd never bet on Mourinho agreeing with that assessment.
Hosts have tails up
West Ham have won only one of their last 19 Premier League matches against Manchester United, failing to score in both meetings at the London Stadium over the last couple of seasons. That's a fairly rotten return, so perhaps no wonder that the away side are considered 1.90 favourites here.
Yet that doesn't quite reflect the mood music heading into this game. West Ham are not as good as Wolves, but they do have a spring in their step, particularly after the performance against Chelsea. Add the excellent Arnautović to that mix, and there's no real reason they shouldn't be hopeful of getting something from this game. The draw, at 3.80, therefore tempts.
Goals could flow
Four of six United games (Premier League only) have produced three goals or more. The same is true of West Ham, and both sets of attackers will be eyeing fragile defences with some relish ahead of kick-off. Over 2.5 goals 1.88 looks a decent pick, then, but perhaps Both Teams to Score just shades it, at 1.79. That would cover a 1-1 draw, which is a distinct possibility.
Bad Luk omen
Our best bet is in the goalscorer market, with Romelu Lukaku simply impossible to ignore in games against West Ham. The Belgian has netted 11 goals in his last 11 games in all competitions against the Irons, and has already scored in all of United's away matches this season (four in three).
Lukaku was missing the last time these sides met, back in May, and was badly missed: United shaded possession but were unable to find a breakthrough. It should be a different story here, and he will be confident of having some joy against Issa Diop and Fabián Balbuena - two good defenders who are still feeling their way into English football.
Same Game Multi
This new tool on the Sportsbook lets you combine multiple picks on the same game. So we could go for a 1-1 draw with a Romelu Lukaku goal at odds of around 24/1.
1.5pts Romelu Lukaku to score at 2.26
0.5pts Romelu Lukaku to score and 1-1 correct score at 24/1 (Same Game Multi)