Another week of Premier League football comes too soon as fifth-placed West Ham lock horns with Manchester United, who are currently sitting four places below them in the table with just one less point. Undoubtedly, a win for either side at the London Stadium might put them in the top four temporarily. After an unfortunate second-half display against Paris Saint-German, the Norwegian coach will be aiming for nothing less than a fourth consecutive league victory to lift his team’s morale. On the other hand, West Ham will come into the game on the back of an impressive 2-1 win over Aston Villa last week. Currently, on the same streak as the Red Devils, David Moyes’ men will be looking to stretch their 3-game-winning run against the highly inconsistent side.
Manchester United have been left sweating over Marcus Rashford’s shoulder injury as he walked straight into the dressing room after being replaced by Paul Pogba at the 74-minute-mark on Wednesday. Luke Shaw, who has been sidelined due to a hamstring problem he picked up in the 3-1 away win at Goodison Park, remains another concern.
To make things worse, veteran striker Edison Cavani, currently under FA investigation, seems likely to face a three-match ban if found guilty of racist accusations, as reported by The Sun.
Axel Tuanzebe is back in contention after serving his one-match ban in the Champions League game against PSG.
Andriy Yarmolenko, who hasn’t featured since game week 7 (Covid) and Michael Antonio (fitness), remain as doubts for the home side.
Talking Tactics and Predicted Line-ups
West Ham are likely to opt for the 3-4-3 formation on Saturday so that they can protect the defence and retain the ball in tight situations. This configuration not only allows them to field more defenders but also gives them an upper hand in attacking terms. It provides both the wing-backs, Masuaku and Coufal with the licence to join the attack on several occasions, which is quite evident from the number of crosses the Hammers have put in this season (31), compared to United’s 14. Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek and expected to partner in the middle of the park, snuffing out counter-attacks, whereas Fornals, Antonio, and Bowen are expected to form the front three.
West Ham United predicted starting XI:
Fabianski; Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Coufal, Rice, Soucek, Masuaku; Bowen, Antonio, Fornals.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is expected to go ahead with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation which helps him dominate the midfield and never ceases to create chances for the forwards upfront. As David Moyes’ men continue to combat counter-attacking situations throughout the game, it’ll be vital for Ole to wholly utilize the prodigious pace of Rashford and Greenwood up top, added to Bruno’s creativity.
Manchester United predicted starting XI:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Martial; Cavani.
Bruno Fernandes continues to be his side’s creator in chief, averaging 2.5 key passes and 4.5 shots on target per away game. Having initiated comebacks in the last two away games, once he gets into the rhythm, it’ll be next to impossible for the opposition to contain the potential openings he can create.
If there’s one player who has benefitted the most since West Ham’s transformation to three at the back, it’s Aaron Creswell. Having created 18 chances and won the ball 35 times in the defensive third (both club highest), without conceding a single foul, it can be undeniably said that both his attacking and defensive attributes have vastly improved. He’ll be one to watch out for this weekend.
West Ham 1-2 Manchester United.