Manchester United will be aiming to register a second successive win in the Premier League when they face off against West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Manchester United will play hosts to rivals West Ham United at Old Trafford this Saturday afternoon in what will be a huge encounter in the context of the Premier League top-four race.

Manchester United are currently on a three-game unbeaten run in all competitions, most recently beating Brentford 3-1 in the Premier League earlier this week. That result has meant that Ralf Rangnick’s side are just two points shy of their upcoming opponents, who occupy fourth place in the table while having a game in hand as well. A win would send the Red Devils into the fourth spot at least till Sunday when the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham will be in action.

West Ham United saw their four-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to a halt last weekend when they lost 2-3 to Leeds United at home in a thrilling encounter. With the teams below them closing in, David Moyes’s men will need a victory to keep their noses ahead in the top-four battle, more so considering that all their rivals have one or more games in hand. The Hammers have an impressive away record in the league, though, and will back themselves to get all three points.

The reverse fixture saw Manchester United come back from a goal down to beat West Ham 2-1. However, the east London giants exacted revenge for the defeat by defeating the 20-time English champions 1-0 in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford. Ahead of their third meeting of the season, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

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Paul Pogba has resumed training with the team after recovering from a hamstring injury but is unlikely to be available for selection until after the international break. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani are also sidelined for Manchester United, while Eric Bailly is away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Scott McTominay came off injured against Brentford but is expected to be ready for Saturday’s clash against West Ham. Victor Lindelof and Jadon Sancho are set to miss out due to personal reasons, the manager confirmed in his pre-match presser.

Ralf Rangnick has recently switched the formation to a 4-3-3 and is expected to stick to it when West Ham come visiting. David de Gea, who was outstanding once again in midweek, will guard the goal for the Red Devils on Saturday. Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire could pair up again in defence, with Phil Jones on the bench while Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles will slot in as the two full-backs.

McTominay ought to feature from kick-off, slotting in as the holding midfielder trying to break up moves while Fred will provide the energy and industry in a more box-to-box role alongside him. The third midfield slot will be taken up by Bruno Fernandes, who will act as the chief creative outlet for the 20-time English champions.

Anthony Elanga has pretty much nailed down his spot in the lineup after a run of promising displays. The 19-year-old should take up the left flank while fellow academy graduate Mason Greenwood, who also scored in midweek, will occupy the right-wing. Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to spearhead the attack for Manchester United, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial providing options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Telles; Fernandes, McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Ronaldo, Elanga

West Ham United

Tomas Soucek could be ready to return to the fold after recovering from COVID-19, but West Ham United will again be without the injured trio of Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna and club captain Mark Noble. Said Benrahma will also be unavailable for selection owing to his involvement at the Africa Cup of Nations.

David Moyes will not tinker with his tried and tested 4-2-3-1 setup on his return to Old Trafford. Lukasz Fabianski will be manning the goal for the east London giants, where he will be protected by the centre-back pairing of Craig Dawson and Issa Diop. Vladimir Coufal and Aaron Cresswell pick themselves as full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

Moving into the middle of the park, Declan Rice will have the task of curbing the influence of Bruno Fernandes. He will have support from the returning Soucek, who will pose a goal threat from set-pieces and his ghosting late runs into the box.

Manuel Lanzini ought to come into the team, slotting in as the No. 10, with Pablo Fornals and the in-form Jarrod Bowen carrying threat from out wide. Michail Antonio remains the undisputed starter as the No. 9 for West Ham.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio

Key Stats

  • Manchester United have won 20 of their 25 Premier League home games against West Ham United (D3 L2). They are unbeaten in their last 13 against the Hammers at Old Trafford.
  • West Ham United have the fourth-best away record in the Premier League this season, with 20 points from 11 matches.
  • Since the start of the last season, Manchester United have lost three of their eight Premier League games against teams from London (W3 D2).
  • West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 18 Premier League matches (six goals, seven assists). However, he has only scored three goals in 43 away appearances in the competition.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has been involved in seven goals in his last five Premier League appearances against West Ham (six goals, one assist).

Player to Watch

Anthony Elanga

Amidst all the superstar big names in the squad at Manchester United, it is a teenage academy product, Anthony Elanga, who has been making all the right noises of late. So much so that the Swede has been able to keep out marquee summer signing Jadon Sancho out of the starting lineup.

The 19-year-old put in a decent display in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa and improved on that performance versus Brentford last time out, when he scored his second senior goal for the Red Devils. More of the same will be expected from Elanga, who has shown that he is willing to put the hard yards in to carve out a place for himself in the side.

Prediction

Manchester United 1-2 West Ham United

Manchester United may be coming into the game on the back of a win, but they rode their luck against Brentford and could have easily ended up on the losing side. West Ham, meanwhile, will be disappointed in the manner in which they shipped in the goals against Leeds United, but the return of Tomas Soucek should help them address that issue to a great extent.

The Red Devils have been guilty of allowing their opponents to create chances galore in recent games, and unlike Brentford, West Ham are a team capable of punishing them. Furthermore, the hosts are extremely vulnerable when defending set-pieces, which their visitors are expected to take advantage of. The Hammers have already picked up a win at Old Trafford this season and could very well make it two on Saturday.

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