Manchester United vs West Ham Preview
One just can’t predict what Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United can pull off, can we? They can play very well in one game, but bore you to death in the next- such is the uncertainty that lingers in their play these days. They were outclassed by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park a month ago but were very good against West Bromwich Albion a week later. And now, as it stands, accusations regarding Louis van Gaal professing unattractive football continue to linger and frustrations continue to flare.
United, on Saturday, come up against a side who have beaten four other members of the top six- Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, but lost their recent meeting against a top six side 4-1, after being battered by Spurs two weeks ago. The Hammers drew their previous game against West Brom and have picked up just 2 points from their previous 4 games, drawing twice. Things are beginning to go wrong for Bilic’s side after Dimitri Payet was ruled out due to a long-term injury and the Hammers are seemingly going downwards since then.
As far as United are concerned, they’ve been left frustrated following two successive draws against Leicester and PSV Eindhoven, building up a lot of negativity around Old Trafford. But the questions arises whether could this game be a launching pad for something better?
Team / Injury News
United are forced into facing two fresh injury concerns this week, as both Wayne Rooney and Marcos Rojo have been ruled out due to their respective injuries. Rooney’s injury which seemingly looked like minor ankle problem at King Power Stadium is worse than one expected and Marcos Rojo has dislocated a shoulder in training and the problem will keep him out for a good amount of time. The duo join Ander Herrera and Phil Jones on the sidelines, who are still out for the game. But, young Jesse Lingard, who was suffering from a tight hamstring has been given the clearance to play. Even Marouane Fellaini may feature as the Belgian scored a goal for the Under 21’s against the Liverpool Under 21 side.
As far as West Ham are concerned, Dimitri Payet, as mentioned earlier is out till February, while the duo of Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia is ruled out due to thigh and ankle injuries respectively.
Manchester United: David de Gea, Matteo Darmian, Paddy McNair, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Memphis Depay, Anthony Martial
West Ham: Adrian, Carl Jenkinson, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang, Mauro Zarate, Andy Carroll
The last time both sides met, the ending was a dramatic one. United grabbed a last-ditch equalizer through Daley Blind at Boleyn Ground, before Luke Shaw was sent off in a game that ended 2-2. As far as the reverse fixture of the previous season goes, Wayne Rooney was sent off in a game United held on for claiming all three points, after Robin van Persie and Rooney scored in the first half, only to see West Ham get a goal through Diafra Sakho later.
The Red Devils last succumbed to a loss against the Hammers during a debacle-filled League Cup game that saw West Ham defeat Sir Alex’s men 4-0, sending them crashing out of the Cup. In the Premier League, West Ham haven’t beaten United since 8 years, with the last win coming in 2007. Cristiano Ronaldo missed from the spot but scored later, only to see the Hammers comeback to seal an impressive 2-1 win at Upton Park.
It can be expected to be another one of those games where in the opposition sits in their own half, defending deep, disallowing United space to work openings with. Teams have already done this to good effect at Old Trafford already and with big, tall defenders such as Ogbonna and Reid at the back, West Ham could field Alex Song alongside Kouyate to sit deep and break on the counter, such that they can get a smash and grab victory.
United will have more energy in their side in the absence of Rooney and will look more nippy around the box, allowing Louis van Gaal’s side to play the way they want to. The likes of Memphis, Lingard and Martial are full of exuberance and energy, making sure United don’t play slow paced football that involves taking too many touches in the midfield.
Due to this, I’d predict a 1-0 win for United. One way or another, they will get three points.