After a shock defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion over the weekend, Manchester United will be hoping to bounce back when they take on West Ham United.
Manchester United will embark on a trip to the capital for their last away game of the Premier League 2017/18 campaign, as they gear up to face West Ham United at the London Stadium on Thursday night.
The Red Devils will be still reeling from their disappointing 1-0 defeat against Brighton on Friday night and will be keen on getting back to winning ways to gain momentum ahead of their FA Cup finals against Chelsea in ten days’ time. Just a point on Thursday will be enough for Jose Mourinho’s men to seal a second-placed finish in the league.
West Ham United, on the other hand, are safe from the threat of relegation, following Swansea City’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton on Tuesday. And manager David Moyes, after having guided his team to safety, will be hoping to end the campaign on a high, following their 2-0 win over Leicester City this past weekend. A win against his former employers on Thursday could go a long way in helping Moyes secure his future at the club.
Team News and Tactics
West Ham United
The Hammers have a lengthy injury list coming into the game with a number of important players out on the sidelines. Former Manchester United striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez is ruled out with a knee problem and so is winger Michail Antonio along with Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid, Sam Byram and James Collins.
On-loan goalkeeper Joe Hart is also a doubt with an illness, while Player of the Year, Marko Arnautovic, who picked up a knock in the win over Leicester at the weekend, is expected to return.
Adrian is likely to keep his spot in the starting lineup, after securing a clean sheet against the Foxes, even if Hart is passed fit for the game. In the three-man backline for the hosts, youngster Declan Rice is expected to be paired up with former Juventus man Angelo Ogbonna and Englishman Aaron Cresswell.
Former Manchester City man Pablo Zabaleta will start as the right-sided wing-back and look to provide width going forward while Arthur Masuaku is likely to take up the opposite side, meaning there is no place for former United man Patrice Evra in the lineup. Captain Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate are expected to slot in the centre of the park to try and provide the Hammers with the defensive solidity.
On-loan Inter Milan midfielder Joao Mario has been a hit at the London Stadium and will once again line up as one of the two attacking midfielders, alongside the creative Manuel Lanzini. And the attack will likely be spearheaded by Arnautovic. The trio will be key for the Hammers if they are to pull off an upset victory.
Probable Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Adrian; Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku; Mario. Lanzini; Arnautovic;
Sergio Romero returned to the squad in the weekend defeat to Brighton, but Manchester United are still likely to be without star striker Romelu Lukaku for the game, as he recovers from an ankle problem. Midfielder Marouane Fellaini will also miss out with a muscular problem, while Phil Jones and Alexis Sanchez have recovered and will be available for selection.
David De Gea will once again start in goal in hope of adding another clean sheet to his tally, as he chases his first Golden Glove award. Antonio Valencia, who did not feature in the last game, is expected to start at right-back, with Ashley Young likely to continue on the left-side of the defence. In the heart of the defence, Chris Smalling is expected to line up alongside the returning Phil Jones to tackle the threat of Arnautovic.
Academy graduate Scott McTominay could get a look in the midfield three for Mourinho’s side, alongside mainstay Nemanja Matic and club-record signing Paul Pogba, who will be itching to bounce back after a dour display on Friday night.
Jesse Lingard should get the nod on the right-flank ahead of Juan Mata, while the fit again Alexis Sanchez is expected to start out on the left side in place on the misfiring Anthony Martial. Marcus Rashford had a disappointing outing against Brighton and will be hoping to lead the line more effectively on Thursday.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Young; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Alexis;
- Manchester United are undefeated in 16 of their last 17 matches against West Ham United across all competitions.
- The Red Devils enjoy a clear upper hand when it comes to head-to-head record between the two clubs, having won 65 and drawn 30 in 138 matches.
- Jose Mourinho has won 11 of his 14 meetings with West Ham United in all competitions (D2 L1), winning three of his four as Man Utd manager (D1).
- West Ham haven’t recorded back-to-back Premier League victories since January 2017, while Manchester United haven’t lost back-to-back games in the competition since May last year, when they lost at Arsenal and Tottenham.
1. West Ham Asian Handicap + 1.0 @ 1.550
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.85
1. West Ham to win @ 4.75
Player to watch
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
The Manchester United sensation hasn’t had the best of the campaigns in 2017/18, mustering up just 6 Premier League goals in 33 appearances (16 starts). Given a chance to lead the line against Brighton on Friday night in the absence of Lukaku, the 20-year old failed to make the most of the chance, putting in a dull and uninspiring display and faced some serious flak from his manager after the game.
With Lukaku still not ready to retun, Rashford will get another chance to prove himself on Thursday night and he needs to step it up in a big way against the Hammers, to win back his manager’s trust.
West Ham United 1-2 Manchester United
West Ham are safe from relegation now, while Manchester United too are almost guaranteed the second spot finish following Liverpool’s weekend defeat to Chelsea, which is likely to take away a lot of sheen from the contest.
However, Mourinho’s men will be keen on bouncing back from their defeat last time out and generate some steam before their FA Cup final and as a result, should be more driven than their opponents. And we, at the Hard Tackle, expect a 2-1 triumph for the visitors at the London Stadium.