West Ham v Man Utd: Cole set for unhappy Hammers return

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Joe Cole could be in line to make his second West Ham debut when Manchester United rock up in east London for this tantalising FA Cup third round clash.

History heavily favours the visitors and they are well worthy of a big bet at 4/6, while those who fancy the Hammers to cause an upset can get paid out at a tidy 4/1 and the draw stands at an 11/4.

In addition to the second coming of Cole, the hosts are also boosted by the return from suspension of duo James Collins and Kevin Nolan, while United are planning some classic cup competition squad rotation with Darren Fletcher and Danny Welbeck (who, incidentally, will ensure losing first goalscorer bets are refunded as free bets should he net first or last) among those in line to benefit.

Resting a few key players should have little bearing on the result as this is a stunt Sir Alex Ferguson has regularly pulled in the early rounds of the FA Cup and the Red Devils have only been despatched once in 28 years worth of third round ties.

Even more ominously for the Irons is that no Premier League opposition has beaten them in this run and it consists of no defeats on the road. Aside from their shock defeat to Leeds in 2010, United have only failed to win two other third round ties in their incredible spell so backing them to claim the spoils at the Boleyn Ground very much makes sense.

Of the previous eight renewals between the two, seven have been settled by a win to nil and, unsurprisingly, six of these victories have fallen in favour of the 19-time English champions.

Another win to nil for the visitors is priced attractively at 12/5 and, with two clean sheets in as many games coming into this one, it appears the Premier League pace setters are finally overcoming the defensive problems that have plagued them throughout the season.

A reasonable payout can still be attained through covering your bases as a price of 5/4 says only one or neither side will net in this game.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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