May 10, 2016

    United can hammer nail in City coffin


    MANCHESTER United have the glinting incentive of a Champions League place in their sights as they prepare for an emotion-charged Premier League contest at West Ham United tonight.

    Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the weekend means that United can pip their cross-town rivals to a top-four spot if they beat West Ham and then prevail at home to Bournemouth on Sunday.

    An FA Cup final date against Crystal Palace follows, suddenly making United manager Louis van Gaal's horizon a great deal sunnier.

    But with West Ham playing their last game at their venerable Boleyn Ground home, United can expect to face ultra-motivated opponents.

    Marcus Rashford was United's inspiration on their last trip to the Boleyn Ground last month, opening the scoring with a fine individual effort.

    The 18-year-old striker is expected to return to the starting XI after being rested for Saturday's 1-0 triumph at Norwich City.

    Centre-back Daley Blind should return as well, having also been rested at Carrow Road but forward Anthony Martial and full-back Matteo Darmian are doubts.

    United's FA Cup win ended West Ham's hopes of bowing out at the Boleyn Ground with a piece of silverware.

    The east London club's chances of a top-four finish are also effectively over following Saturday's unexpected 4-1 defeat at home to Swansea City.

    Win, lose or draw, tonight's game is sure to be an occasion soaked with nostalgia as West Ham bid farewell to the 35,016-seat Boleyn Ground, which has been the club's home since 1904.

    Exciting times lie ahead with an imminent move to the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, up the road in Stratford.

    But for fans, local residents, staff and players, leaving the club's ancestral home will be an almighty wrench.

    "We're itching to get back out there and put things right, of course we are," said captain Mark Noble, whose West Ham career began in July 2003.

    "It's the last game ever at this place and it's going to be special."


    Midweek fixtures


    West Ham v Man Utd


    Norwich v Watford

    Sunderland v Everton

    Liverpool v Chelsea