Manchester United v West Ham: Target profit with McTominay

Manchester United host West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday evening and Andy Schooler has picked out a 13/5 shot for the Old Trafford showdown...

In-form Hammers tempting

There's no doubt West Ham look a tempting proposition in Sunday night's Premier League fixture at odds of 4.5.

Since the turn of the year, they've won eight and drawn one of their 11 league matches to shoot up the table and into contention for a top-four finish.

They are better rested here too, their hosts - 1.96 to win - having played a strong team in the Europa League on Thursday night, a game they only drew thanks to a late equaliser at Old Trafford from AC Milan.

Anthony Martial added to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's injury concerns in that game. Like fellow forward Marcus Rashford, he's doubtful for this contest, while Edinson Cavani has already been ruled out.

In midfield, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata remain sidelined. At least Victor Lindelof looks likely to return to the starting XI but with several players unavailable, Solskjaer may not be able to make too many changes - remember his side's place in the top four is far from secure yet.

Lingard absence to be felt

My big concern about whether the Hammers can take advantage is the loss of Jesse Lingard.

He's frankly been a revelation since his loan move out of Old Trafford in January, offering West Ham a greater attacking threat with his running on and off the ball and eagerness to get a shot away.

Lingard certainly caused Manchester City trouble a couple of weeks ago when the Hammers could easily have got a result - they ended up losing 2-1.

As highlighted, there are reasons to believe that can do better on the west side of the city but Lingard's absence makes it much harder. No-one in West Ham's side will be able to replicate what he has brought to the team in recent weeks and boss David Moyes came pretty close to admitting it on Friday.

Moyes said: "He'll be a big loss because he's had a big impact on the team and how we've played. He's been a positive signing for us, coming in in January, so it is a loss to us, but we've got other people."

Red Devils tough to beat

It should also be remembered that Manchester United are far from a soft touch.

For all that has been said about West Ham's strong form, the fact is that United are unbeaten in their last 12 games in all competitions. In the league, it's one defeat in 22.

Thursday's injury-time leveller by Milan was the first conceded in five matches. And even when they do go behind, the Red Devils have shown a great ability to recover - no side has won more points from losing positions than their 22.

Perhaps sitting on the fence and backing the draw is the best option at 3.65 but this really is a game which looks hard to call with team news potentially key.

Time to go low on goals?

Man Utd's miserly defensive record of late suggests under 2.5 goals could be a decent play.

That's landed in six of their last eight games and David Moyes is a manager who usually sets his teams out to defend first in fixtures such as this - expect the visitors to sit pretty deep and try to counter with the likes of Michail Antonio, although that's an area where Lingard will be missed.

What The Stats Say: Opta-based bets for the weekend's action

Still, the layers seem clued up - under 2.5 is at 1.94. With the stats across the season as a whole showing both sides have seen over 2.5 more often than not in their games, I can leave it alone on this occasion.

Set pieces are another area West Ham will likely try to exploit - they have scored more goals from such situations than any other in the top flight, while only two teams have conceded more from set plays than the hosts.

Craig Dawson's recent efforts should therefore be noted.

He scored against Leeds on Monday and has regularly been troubling opposition goalkeepers.

That was the fifth game in his last 12 the defender has managed a shot on target - with greater attention on Tomas Soucek following his impressive first half of the season, Dawson has been a regular target for the excellent delivery of Aaron Cresswell.

Great Scott can deliver

He's 21/10 for another shot on target here. I wouldn't put anyone off that but another price in the market makes even greater appeal and that's Scott McTominay's 13/5.

The Scot has landed a shot on target in six of his last nine starts - and one of those saw him replaced early on due to injury.

He also nailed this coming off the bench to score the extra-time winner against West Ham in last month's FA Cup tie.

After that game, Solskjaer notably said: "Scott has really developed that part of his game this season. We have let him go into the box more often - he is a very good striker of the ball, a clinical finisher."

With West Ham likely to invite their hosts on, McTominay should get shooting opportunities. The 6ft 4in star is also a threat from set-plays and 13/5 simply looks too big to miss.

Opta fact

West Ham are winless in their last 12 Premier League away games against Manchester United (D3 L9), since a 1-0 victory on the final day of the 2006/07 campaign.



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