Manchester United will have to be wary of West Ham’s form as they travel to face the high-flying Hammers in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Red Devils have had a clumsy start to their 2020/21 Premier League campaign, owing to injuries, fitness issues and a lack of pre-season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tried to make the most of it and three consecutive wins in the league have propelled them into the top half of the table, with one game in hand.
One team they find above them though, to their surprise, is West Ham United. David Moyes has circumnavigated all internal and squad issues at the start of the season to lead the Hammers to fifth on the league table. Much to his credit, Moyes has done remarkably well with a squad that saw itself being depleted after the transfer window rather than being improved.
Manchester United did suffer a 3-1 defeat to PSG during the midweek, owing mostly to some lackadaisical finishing, blowing their Champions League Group wide open. As for West Ham United, they have had a full week’s rest and will be looking to take advantage of the superior conditioning and fitness levels of their key players.
The last time Manchester United paid West Ham a visit, it was the Hammers who came out on top with a 2-0 win over the away side, thanks to goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell. As the two teams get ready to renew their developing rivalry, we take a look at how each squad is shaping up.
Team News & Tactics
Andriy Yarmolenko is yet to be cleared to return to the camp after testing positive and will sit this one out. Michail Antonio, though, will be a big miss for Moyes, if he fails to be fit in time for the Manchester United fixture.
In defence, Moyes will retain 3 at the back, with Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena the ones usually preferred, with Issa Diop dropping down the pecking order. Vladimir Coufal and Arthur Masuaku have done well out wide and should continue to reprise their role as the wing-backs.
Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have formed quite a chemistry in midfield and Moyes would hope the pair can stop Manchester United from building attacks successfully.
Jarrod Bowen has had a breakout season of sorts, in terms of performances and impact and is a certain starter on the right. Should Antonio not make it, Sebastien Haller will line up in the middle of the three-man attack, with his height likely to prove to be a good match with the Manchester United central defenders.
The fans and David Moyes would have both witnessed what Said Benrahma can add to the starting eleven after netting the winner against Aston Villa. However, for now, Moyes should continue to prefer playmaker Pablo Fornals on the left, with Benrahma a dangerous proposition as a second-half substitute.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Fabianski; Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Coufal, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku; Bowen, Haller, Fornals
Luke Shaw is back in training but is yet to prove his fitness, which makes him an unlikely face to see in the starting eleven on Saturday. Marcus Rashford was brought off early against PSG with a shoulder issue and while Ole is optimistic about Rashford’s ability to recover in time, the English international is a doubt ahead of the West Ham trip.
David de Gea was also seen limping on some occasions and will be doubtful, with Dean Henderson likely to be handed a rare start in goal. The back four from the PSG game should be retained, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Alex Telles the expected faces.
Donny van de Beek and Paul Pogba should come into the starting eleven as Ole rings in the rotation while Scott McTominay should keep his place after a fighting display against PSG. In attack, Rashford is a doubt but if fit, the English international will start, with Edinson Cavani also a certainty to start upfront.
Bruno Fernandes will reprise his role in the hole in an advanced midfield position and the Portuguese would hope he can do better than the shift he put in during the midweek. In case Rashford isn’t fit to start, Martial will get the nod.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; van de Beek, McTominay, Pogba; Fernandes; Cavani, Martial
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.61
1. Bruno Fernandes to score anytime @ 2.75
1. Manchester United have won just once on their last five Premier League visits to face West Ham United.
2. West Ham United have scored in their last nine Premier League games after a drab season-opening 2-0 defeat to Newcastle.
3. West Ham United have kept clean sheets in two of their last three Premier League fixtures.
4. Manchester United have already set a new club record in their last away win over Southampton, having won 8 consecutive Premier League games on the road.
5. Bruno Fernandes has scored 7 times and provided 3 assists in a total of 9 Premier League appearances in the 2020/21 campaign.
Player to Watch
One of the main reasons for Manchester United’s defeat against PSG was Martial’s lack of clinical finishing. The Frenchman had two glorious opportunities to give United the lead in the second half at 1-1 but squandered both of them, with one of them almost being a six-yard sitter. The astonishing fact was that Martial failed to test the goalkeeper with that effort from nearly six yards.
Ole has two misfiring forwards in Martial and Mason Greenwood. While the latter will need time to recuperate from the mental beating taken at the hands of media, it will be up to Martial to step up and be the number 9 he so wished to be for so long at Manchester United.
West Ham will have an experienced 3-man backline, meaning Martial can beat them for pace and the Frenchman will also have to resort to his close ball control in order to carve out opportunities. All Martial needs right now is a way to find the back of the net and once one goes in, it might pave the way for more.
West Ham 2-3 Manchester United
David Moyes seems to have found the winning formula for West Ham United. The experienced three-man setup sits deep at the back, with the wing-backs also falling back to make it a 5-man setup when not in possession. The likes of Bowen and Fornals have contributed well at the other end of the pitch.
For Manchester United, Edinson Cavani comes into the game on the back of a brilliant cameo and his first start in the Premier League could be an ominous one for West Ham. Cavani has the height and strength to jostle with West Ham’s three experienced defenders while having the pace and trickery to trouble them.
West Ham are likely to continue their trend to score in the Premier League games but Manchester United have been an indomitable force in their away games. A scoring extravaganza should be on display for the neutrals, with Manchester United slight favourites to edge it 3-2 purely based on their away prowess.