Manchester United will be aiming to move into the top four of the Premier League when they take on West Ham United at Old Trafford this midweek.

After having seen their FA Cup run ended this past weekend, Manchester United will be looking to bounce back to winning ways and move into the top four of the Premier League when they host West Ham United on Wednesday.

Manchester United’s 19-game unbeaten run across all competitions snapped on Sunday as they fell to a humbling 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men must put that behind and focus on securing Champions League football for next season.

The Red Devils were handed a major favour by former boss Jose Mourinho, as his Tottenham side defeated fourth-placed Leicester City this past weekend. Four points from their remaining two matches will ensure a top-four finish for Manchester United, although it must be noted that they will be taking on the Foxes in the last game of the season.

West Ham United, on the other hand, are almost certain of their safety in the Premier League. Following their important 3-1 win over Watford this past week, the Hammers are now six points clear of the drop zone and a point from their two games will ensure their Premier League status for another campaign.

The reverse fixture, played in September last year, had seen West Ham pull off a shock 2-0 win over Manchester United, with goals coming from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell. Ahead of their latest meeting this midweek, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

Under pressure after dubious selection choices against Chelsea (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Under pressure after dubious selection choices against Chelsea (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester United will be relieved by the news that Eric Bailly’s head injury on Sunday isn’t as serious as it was thought to be initially. However, the Ivory Coast international will be unavailable for the West Ham clash. Luke Shaw remains a major doubt for the game, while Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe continue to be unavailable.

Solskjaer will be under pressure on Wednesday, having gotten his team selection and tactics all wrong against Chelsea this past weekend. The Norwegian is very much expected to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation after having used a three-man backline in the cup tie.

David de Gea was the biggest guilty part for United’s defeat to Chelsea this weekend. However, he is expected to be given a shot at redemption on Wednesday. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams ought to continue as the two full-backs, while Victor Lindelof, who had a poor outing as well, should be retained alongside Harry Maguire at the centre.

Paul Pogba was surprisingly omitted from the starting XI on Sunday, but should be back in the lineup for the West Ham clash. He should have Nemanja Matic as his partner in the midfield double pivot, while Bruno Fernandes will look to string together play from the No. 10 role.

Marcus Rashford is a certainty on the left flank, while Mason Greenwood should return on the right after Daniel James’ ineffective outing last time out. Anthony Martial should also get the nod after being benched for the last game.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Pogba, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial

West Ham United

Moyes in search for his first win at Old Trafford as away manager (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Moyes in search for his first win at Old Trafford as away manager (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

West Ham United, on the other hand, just the one player unavailable for the trip to Old Trafford as Robert Snodgrass remains sidelined. Ryan Fredericks, though, is a doubt for the clash and will undergo a late fitness test to determine his availability for selection.

Former Manchester United boss David Moyes will the Hammers up in a 4-2-3-1 setup as well, as he searches for his first ever Premier League win as an away manager at Old Trafford.

Lukasz Fabianski ought to guard the goal for the Hammers, while Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna shield him at the heart of the defence. Aaron Cresswell is certain to feature at left-back, while youngster Ben Johnson should get the nod on the opposite side, with Fredericks a doubt.

Declan Rice, who had been linked with Manchester United in the past, will provide cover to his backline from the centre of the park. He will have company from Tomas Soucek, who has made quite the impact since arriving on loan back in January. Mark Noble has excelled playing in an advanced role in the past few matches and should continue as the No.10.

January signing Jarrod Bowen is sure to feature on the right flank, while Pablo Fornals should slot in on the left, with Felipe Anderson recently recovering from an injury. Spearheading the attack for the Hammers ought to be Michail Antonio, who has been in red-hot form in recent games.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Johnson, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Noble, Fornals; Antonio

Key Stats

  • Manchester United have lost only two of their 23 Premier League home matches against West Ham United (W19, D2). The Red Devils’ manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played in both of those defeats.
  • Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in September, West Ham are looking to complete their first league double over Manchester United since 2006-07.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their previous 12 Premier League encounters (W8, D4). It is Solskjaer’s joint-longest sequence without defeat as United boss in the league.
  • David Moyes is looking to become the first ex-Manchester United boss to win a league game at Old Trafford since Dave Sexton achieved it in 1982, while managing Coventry City.
  • Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have scored 12 and 11 home league goals respectively this term. It is the only the third time in Premier League history that Manchester United have had two or more players reach double figures for goals at Old Trafford.

Player to Watch

David de Gea

De Gea has let Manchester United down on numerous occasions of late (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

De Gea has let Manchester United down on numerous occasions of late (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

From being the best goalkeeper in Europe not so long ago, David de Gea has become a pale shadow of his former self since that infamous moment in the 2018 FIFA World Cup when he let a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick squirm through. While there have been glimpses of his ability here and there, the Spaniard has become increasingly error-prone and his mistakes have cost Manchester United.

Most recently, the Spanish international was guilty of making two huge mistakes against Chelsea, resulting in Manchester United getting dumped out of the FA Cup at the semi-final stages. Despite there being calls for him to be axed from the starting lineup, De Gea is likely to be given another opportunity on Wednesday against West Ham.

But given the form that Michail Antonio has been in, he could be in for a difficult outing at Old Trafford. On the contrary, should he manage to keep a clean sheet, he will surpass former United star Peter Schmeichel’s Premier League club record of 112.

Prediction

Manchester United 2-2 West Ham United

Manchester United’s performance against Chelsea this past weekend was devoid of any desire and energy. Bouncing back from that display will be anything but easy, even though Solskjaer is expected to bring back the likes of Pogba and Martial back into the starting XI.

West Ham United, on the other hand, have been in a good nick of late, having lost just one of their last five matches (D1 W3). The Hammers have netted seven goals in their last two matches, while netting in just one and will pose a major threat to the Manchester United defence that looked leaky on Sunday.

United have been given a golden opportunity to open up a three-point lead over Leicester City. But that may be easier said than done given West Ham’s recent form. The Hard Tackle predicts this one to end in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.

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