West Ham-Manchester United: Hammers Aloft, The Devils Are Coming

illya mclellanSenior Analyst IDecember 5, 2009

This week's league action brings a confrontation with between two proud clubs that can both point to historical success, Manchester United have won 52 times, West Ham 41 along with 24 draws.

West Ham can indeed in some ways lay claim to some of the greatest glory in English football with their former players' contributions to the 1966 World Cup victory.

In fact, key contributions were made by several players, and West Ham also took the Winners Cup in 1965.

Manchester United have a much publicised history with much glorious success, they also had key contributors involved in the 66 side and were the first English side to win the European Cup and have gone on to win three.

History means nothing on the eve of this match though as is always the case when the ref signals the players to kick off.

Once the ball is rolling and crowd roars, we enter the realm of the game and its alternate reality, when it takes over the minds of millions and the players become like mythic heroes.

West Ham have experienced a resurgence of late, though the injury to Carlton Cole leaves them slightly blunted in attack. Cole has contributed seven league goals already and was in excellent form leading up to his injury last weekend.

Guille Franco is in good form, though, so all is not lost in terms of goal scoring ability. The Mexican has the added spur of good form giving him a chance at making South Africa with his beloved national team.

Gianfranco Zola was in a dire position not so long ago but has managed to turn things around recently with a draw away at Hull and a win at home over Burnley, who incidentally conquered the champions at their ground.

Ryan Giggs was the difference last season with a goal that turned back the clock for those watching, with the Welshman dancing inside two defenders and hitting a sweet drive to the far corner.

He is again in form as these teams prepare to meet and his presence will certainly be something worrying for Zola, particularly with England centre back Matthew Upson out of action due to injury.

But, of course, United will be expected to field their strongest available side for this fixture considering that in it, West Ham have the edge at the Boleyn ground thus far with two wins to United's one.

United will be motivated by the pressure to keep up with Chelsea and West Ham by the desire to move up out of the mire that collects around you if you stay too close to the foot of the table.

It is never a match that a United fan can take casually, as there is a long and hotly contested history.

In fact, in the old division one, you get a better idea of the tussles that these teams enjoyed with the statistic that in 68 games between the pair, United won 27, West Ham 26 and there were 15 draws.

The era of the Premier League has favored United, with United winning 17 to West Ham's 4 with 7 draws. There have though been crucial victories for West Ham over United including when Tevez scored for them at Old Trafford to keep them up in the 0-1 win in 2007.

Both sides covet the points, so it will be as strong a fight as ever with both sides missing players through injury.

Manchester United are unscathed in terms of attacking capability, though, which will be one of Zola's primary concerns. West Ham have lost Cole but do have players who know where the goal is.

It will be an interesting match and certainly has a possibility of being one of the matches of the round, with both sides working well to fashion goal-scoring chances in the last few weeks.

Definitely worth a look for the possibility of goals after both sides efforts in recent league matches.