WEST HAM UNITED
Boleyn Ground, London
March 22, 2014; 17:30 GMT
Manchester United face West Ham at Upton Park hoping to build on their success in Europe. We preview the game with all the team news and important match facts.
Man United travel to Upton Park in a much happier frame of mind, buoyed by the result in midweek against Olympiacos. It’s been a tragic league campaign for David Moyes but the positive result in Europe might well have saved his job for the foreseeable future, at least. West Ham on the other hand were in terrific form in February winning four games on the trot, but March hasn’t been that kind as back to back defeats has halted the Hammers charge up the table. Nevertheless, the game seemingly has little riding on it and that could allow both sides to play with freedom and set up an exciting contest for the viewers.
Team News and tactical brief
Sam Allardyce and his coaching staff have perhaps done enough to starve off any relegation fears. The Hammers are 12th in table but most likely out of trouble. However, a top half finish is achievable and that should be West Ham’s ambition for the season. Big Sam’s side, in their last outing, surrendered a lead at the Britannia and then capitulated. However, Andy Carroll returned and scored for the Londoners and that should bode well for their future. On the injury front there are no new casualties, although Marco Borriello and Joey” O’Brien will remain sidelined with long term injuries. Jack Collison has moved on to Wigan on loan and seeing as he’s out of contract in the summer it looks likely that Collison won’t be wearing the Claret & Blue again.
All eyes will be on the Carroll-Nolan partnership upfront and it won’t be surprising if the Hammers play route one football against United’s beleaguered defense.
The reverse fixture ended in a 3-1 win for Manchester United with goals from Danny Welbeck, Adnan Januzaj and Ashley Young. Carlton Cole pulled one back for the Hammers during the late stages of the match.
Possible Starting X1(4-2-3-1): Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney; Noble, Taylor; Downing, Nolan, Jarvis; Caroll
David Moyes and United had already surrendered the league crown and with last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool their last hope of Champions League qualification are dead as well. Also, with the Manchester derby on the Horizon, the United manager might look to freshen things up a bit. RVP scored a fantastic hat-trick in midweek but was stretchered off in injury time. Although the initial comments from the manager were positive, Moyes might well decide to rest the Dutchman and give Welbeck or Hernandez a rare start. Shinji Kagawa too could get a look in as the Scot would look to shuffle his pack.
On the injury front, Johnny Evans and Nani have recently returned to training while Chris Smalling is still out. Moyes has a lot of options in attack but picking the right combination is a must and has hitherto been his bugbear. At the back with Vidic suspended and Smalling out injured, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones are automatic picks for the two center back spots while Rafael and Evra should be the two fullbacks.
Man United need to continue winning and David Moyes must display some semblance of a coherent attacking game plan. Even though this season United cannot really hope to achieve any silverware but the foundations of future success can still be laid.
Possible Starting X1(4-4-2): De Gea; Rafael, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Kagawa, Mata; Rooney, Welbeck
Key Match Facts
- 48 points after 29 games is Manchester United’s lowest haul of points in a Premier League season, six points fewer than their previous lowest in 1992-93.
- The Hammers also have the lowest shooting accuracy; hitting the target with just 38% of their attempts.
- The Hammers haven’t won four Premier League home games in a row since May 2002, when they beat Bolton in the last game of that run who were managed at that time by Sam Allardyce.
- Manchester United have kept three clean sheets in a row away from home in the Premier League – the last time they managed four in succession was April 2013.
West Ham 2-2 Man United
Although United have a reasonably good away record this season, West Ham have been tough to beat at Upton Park.
Player to watch out
Andy Carroll (West Ham)
Andy Carroll is back and with a late charge could still force his way into the England side for the world cup. The former Liverpool striker could feast on United’s shaky rearguard and could prove to be the match winner.