Manchester United preview

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United v Manchester United
Boleyn Ground
Saturday 5 December
Referee: Peter Walton

WHUTV - Full match commentary

• West Ham United welcome Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United looking to build on a run of just one defeat in their last six matches of the 2009/10 Barclays Premier League season.

• The club have only lost once at home since 19 September, drawing with Fulham and Arsenal and earning victories against Aston Villa and Burnley. The latter result last week saw the club take a five-goal lead before being pegged back to a 5-3 success. It was only the second time the squad had scored more than two goals in a league game this season.

• Robert Green has not kept a clean sheet since the 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers on 29 August but at the other end, the Hammers have scored in each of the last ten league fixtures.

• Gianfranco Zola said: "It is a big opportunity for us all. I am sure the fans will all be buzzing. We will be buzzing as well. We will give everything and let's see if it will be enough. It is certainly great to be playing at 3pm on a Saturday once more. I can tell the crowd react better to this. Everything is set up and it will be a fantastic occasion."

• West Ham United will hope to make it three home wins out four in Premier League meetings with Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground. Nigel Reo-Coker's strike secured a 1-0 victory three seasons ago, while headers from Anton Ferdinand and Matthew Upson saw the Hammers recover from a goal down to win 2-1 in the 2007/08 campaign. Last season, Ryan Giggs struck the only goal of the game to end the home side's good run.

• Zola's side go into the match in 17th place in the Premier League table. A win could lift the Hammers into 12th place while the visitors will hope to close the five-point gap to leaders Chelsea.

• This is the 109th league meeting between the two sides. Manchester United have won 48, West Ham United have won 37 and there have been 23 draws.


• Saturday's referee is Peter Walton.

• Walton, 49, began his refereeing career in 1986, before being appointed to the Football League List as an assistant referee in 1993. He joined the Premier League List of assistant referees in 1994

• Walton was an assistant referee at the 1996 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Liverpool at Wembley. That same year, he also joined the FIFA list of assistant referees and ran the line during the Euro 96 group-stage fixture between Germany and Czech Republic at Old Trafford.

• Walton joined the Football League List of referees in 1998 and joined the Premier League Select List in 2003. That same year, he was the man in control of the LDV Vans Trophy final between Bristol City and Carlisle United at the Millennium Stadium.

• Walton's first Premier League fixture as a referee was Wolverhampton Wanderers' 4-3 win over Leicester City at Molineux on 25 October 2003.

• In January 2007, Walton travelled to Ecuador to help to run an Advanced Course for Referees' Instructors.

• Walton took charge of the 2008 FA Community Shield between Manchester United and Portsmouth at Wembley.

Last time out

Saturday 28 November 2009

Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 5-3 Burnley
West Ham United: Green, Gabbidon, Spector, Ilunga, Da Costa, Parker, Kovac, Collison (Faubert 78), Stanislas, Cole (Hines 45 ), Franco (Jimenez 59)
Subs not used: Noble, Tomkins, Kurucz, Nouble
Goals: Collison 18, Stanislas 33, Cole 43 pen, Franco 51, Jimenez 64 pen

Tuesday 2 December 2009

Carling Cup quarter-final
Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United: Kuszczak, Neville, Brown, Vidic, De Laet, Park, Gibson, Anderson (Tosic 82), Obertan (Carrick 62), Welbeck, Berbatov (Macheda 62)
Subs not used: Amos, Owen, Giggs, Fletcher
Goals: Gibson 16, 38

West Ham United

• West Ham United will be hoping to continue the run of form that has seen them lose just once in their last six games.

• The Hammers' minus two goal difference tells its own story when compared to the teams around them in the league table. The east Londoners have lost by more than one goal just once in the league this season - the 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in September.

• Hanging on to leads is crucial if the club are to pick up a third home win in four games. Three times they have failed to convert a two-goal lead into a win so far this season.

• The Hammers have scored eight headed goals this season - more than any other team in the top flight. The club have won more penalties (five) than any other team this campaign.

• West Ham have scored 24 goals this season with ten different scorers registering. Carlton Cole leads the way (seven), with Guille Franco (three) next in line. Jack Collison (two), Matthew Upson (two), Alessandro Diamanti (two), Junior Stanislas (two), Manuel da Costa, Mark Noble, Luis Jimenez and Zavon Hines have also registered.

• Cole is West Ham's top scorer this season with seven goals in 13 league games. The England striker had scored 13 goals in 24 Premier League games since Boxing Day 2008, all from open play, before last week's penalty on his 100th league start.

• Diamanti has more assists (three) than any other West Ham player.

• Noble has put in more crosses (15) than anyone else for the Hammers.

• Noble is in line to play his 100th game for the club, if selected.

• Only Robert Green has played in every league game for the club this season. He is on a run of 102 successive league appearances.

• Julien Faubert and Carlton Cole are each on four yellow cards this season.

• Guille Franco played against Manchester United when his former club Villarreal went to Old Trafford for a UEFA Champions League encounter in September 2008 and earned a fine goalless draw.

• West Ham's record home win against Manchester United was a 5-1 success in the old First Division on 11 October 1930.

Manchester United

• Manchester United go into Saturday's game buoyed by their midweek Carling Cup win against Tottenham Hotspur with two-goal midfielder Darron Gibson and Belgian full-back Ritchie De Laet particularly impressive. Forwards Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda also did well.

• The club are through to the Carling Cup semi-finals and will meet rivals Manchester City over two legs on 6 and 19 January.

• Wayne Rooney's hat-trick last weekend in a 4-1 win at Portsmouth took him to ten goals for the season in the league. Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen both have four goals to their name.

• Only Patrice Evra has started every one of the club's 14 top-flight matches this campaign.

• Ryan Giggs has eight assists this season, more than any other United player and leads the club with 47 crosses.

• At the back, Nemanja Vidic has made 16 defensive clearances and eight defensive blocks. In contrast, Matthew Upson has 16 defensive clearances and ten defensive blocks.

• Wayne Rooney has the most yellow cards of any United player with three this season in all competitions. The only other Reds player with more than one is Darren Fletcher on two.

• Manchester United's biggest triumph in east London was a 6-1 victory on 6 May 1967.

Team news

• Gianfranco Zola has lost Carlton Cole for a number of weeks with a knee injury. The extent of the problem was confirmed by the club on Thursday after specialist advice. The England striker will not need surgery and has already begun his rehab in the hope of returning early in the new year.

• Matthew Upson is likely to miss out again this weekend with a hamstring problem but it is hoped he will be back in full training next week ahead of a trip to his old club Birmingham City. Valon Behrami is targeting a return for the busy Christmas period after minor keyhole surgery on a knee cartilage problem.

• Alessandro Diamanti and Kieron Dyer have both trained fully this week but it remains to be seen if they will be included in the 18. Dyer played his second reserve game in a fortnight last Monday, getting 75 minutes as the second string lost 2-1 at Birmingham. Frank Nouble scored his second goal in as many reserve games in the match and could be considered in Cole's absence.

• Mark Noble has recovered from a calf strain but has been struggling with a virus. Luis Jimenez also has a muscle problem but it is not known whether either will miss out.

• The long-term absentees remain Dean Ashton (ankle), Calum Davenport (leg) and Luis Boa Morte (knee).

• Sir Alex Ferguson will again be without defenders Rio Ferdinand (back), Jonny Evans (calf) and John O'Shea (thigh). Wes Brown has been partnering Nemanja Vidic to good effect in central defence.

• Edwin van der Sar has recovered from a knee problem in time but Owen Hargreaves remains a long-term knee absentee.

Last meeting

• The teams met at the Boleyn Ground on Sunday 8 February 2009, with a 62nd-minute goal from Ryan Giggs the only difference between the two sides in a 1-0 away win.

• The lineups were:

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami (Tristan 87), Parker, Noble (Savio 77), Collison, Cole, Di Michele
Subs not used: Lastuvka, Boa Morte, Kovac, Spector, Sears

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs, Tevez (Park 87), Berbatov
Subs not used: Foster, Nani, Welbeck, Fabio, Fletcher, Eckersley

Old boys

• West Ham United defender Jonathan Spector joined Manchester United as a 17-year-old in 2003. The United States international, who has a German passport, spent two seasons at Old Trafford - making eight appearances for the first team - before moving to Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan in the summer of 2005. Spector left Manchester United for West Ham United in June 2006 for an initial fee of £500,000.

• Manchester United have two former West Ham United players in their squad. England defender Rio Ferdinand made 158 appearances for the club between May 1996 and November 2000, scoring two goals. Midfielder Michael Carrick scored six goals in 159 appearances between July 1999 and May 2004.

• Among the other players who have represented both clubs are Roy Carroll, Noel Cantwell, Luke Chadwick, Billy Grassam, Paul Ince, Ralph Milne, Frederick Milnes, Frank O'Farrell, Stuart Pearson, Dave Sexton, Teddy Sheringham and Raimond van der Gouw.

Head to head

Last six meetings (Premier League unless stated)

8 February 2009 - West Ham United 0-1 Manchester United
29 October 2008 - Manchester United 2-0 West Ham United
3 May 2008 - Manchester United 4-1 West Ham United
29 December 2007 - West Ham United 2-1 Manchester United
13 May 2007 - Manchester United 0-1 West Ham United
17 December 2006 - West Ham United 1-0 Manchester United

Overall record v Manchester United (all competitions) W 41 D 24 L 52

Next up

• West Ham United will travel to Birmingham City in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday 12 December, kick-off at 3pm. Manchester United welcome Aston Villa on the same day but will not get under way until 5.30pm. However, before that they travel to VfB Wolfsburg on Tuesday for a UEFA Champions League group-stage fixture.

General information

• Tickets for this fixture are now sold out. For details on getting to the Boleyn Ground click here.

• Saturday's weather forecast is for a bright and sunny day with temperatures peaking at 11C.