Manchester United vs. West Ham United PL PREVIEW

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PREVIEW: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

DATE: Wednesday 22nd July 2020

VENUE: Old Trafford

COMPETITION: Premier League

CHANNEL: SKY Sports

OFFICIAL: Paul Tierney

 

PREMIER LEAGUE FORM

Manchester United – WWWDW

West Ham United – WDLWW

 

Somebody call Thin Lizzy because the Moyes are back in town and the ‘Flying Scotsman’ wants to prevent Man United from Top 4 just like he did when he was sat in the Old Trafford dugout six years ago.

 

This game is crucial for both teams with it being pivotal between Top 4 and not for Man United while a point will mathematically maintain Premier League status for West Ham United.

 

You could easily make an argument for this being the biggest game for both United’s in quite some time. A loss for ‘The Red Devils’ would surely end their Top 4 journey and send United back to the start of their development they have been building up for years. For West Ham, a defeat could possibly cause issues and send West Ham down which would be catastrophic for such a big club.

 

On paper, West Ham are safe and Man United will get Top 4 but we all know the beautiful game isn’t played on paper. It’s played on a football pitch.

 

Last Meeting

Back in September, the Olympic Stadium played venue to a 90-minute marathon that resulted in a gold medal for ‘The Hammers’ and a wooden spoon for the United. It was a poor game all round for Ole’s men and started with minimal goal mouth action at either end, all until Andriy Yarmolenko netted on the stroke of half time. You would think Man United of all teams would come out fighting in the second half, but you’d be mistaken. All through the second half, West Ham were swimming and running away with victory and it was confirmed with a belter from English fullback Aaron Cresswell. For West Ham, this was a huge hurdle they successfully overcame but for Man United, it was a continuation of their poor start that saw them drop points to Southampton and Crystal Palace.

 

At the point it was a fresh Ole Gunnar taking on former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini but now is a more experienced Solskjaer taking on former United boss in David Moyes. Will the result be any different or can Man United deal with the pressure and inflict a potential blow to West Ham’s relegation fight?

 

Manchester United Team News

Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are both still out due to their respective injuries while fellow defenders Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly are doubts for the game. Luke Shaw’s ankle injury sustained against Southampton is still causing a few issues while Eric Bailly’s head injury will more than likely keep him out. Everyone else is deemed fit for the game.

 

Formation

Words can’t describe why 5 at the back should never be seen at Manchester United Football Club ever again. Ole changed the formation against Chelsea and it was one of the worst performances in recent memory, that’s why it is imperative that he names one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers in a 4-3-3 system. Anything else is a failure.

VERDICT: 4-3-3

 

Goalkeepers

Man United have always had a strong figure in the sticks whether it’s Neville Southall, Peter Schmeichel or Edwin Van Der Sar but I think this is by far the biggest question surrounding the goalkeeper position in United history. De Gea has been making mistakes for over a year now but his nightmare like performance at Wembley took the biscuit. So does De Gea stay in the goal? I think Ole will stick with him and I personally would agree with him.

 

The best course of action with De Gea is to keep him in the net for the next two games because after all he is still a great shot stopper and better than Sergio Romero and his reflexes could prove important in United’s Top 4 challenge. Then next season, slowly ease him out of the team in favour of Dean Henderson.

 

For now, De Gea needs to stay in net and find his form from 2016. De Gea is a problem that can be sorted next season, not in this crucial stage of United’s Top 4 race.

VERDICT: DAVID DE GEA

 

Defence

The defence will be under the microscope again after another deflated performance in the cup. A part of that defence was Aaron Wan Bissaka who is currently indulging in a little dry patch. West Ham have pace on the wings and are keen dribblers so I feel that Wan Bissaka can be at his best here. A few performances where the opposition suits his strengths may well build that confidence back up for the Englishman so he can rekindle that magic he showed pre lockdown.

 

If you’re a regular reader of ups and downs you will know my displeasure at Harry Maguire as a defender and a captain of Manchester United, displeasure I’m not going to explain now. Despite this quickly materialising agenda I’m beginning to build, the subject in question makes my team-sheet. Maguire and Lindelof are the only fully fit and available centre backs for United so there is no real alternative. Let’s just hope he actually fulfils his duties not only as a marquee defender but as a captain too. Prove me wrong Harry.

 

As I just stated, there is no other fully fit partnership other than Maguire and Lindelof. The Swedish has been shone in a bad light in recent weeks and despite his faults he does have some qualities to his play. In a game where keeping a clean sheet is vital, we have our fingers crossed for a Swedish man masterclass not a disaster one.

 

Left back is a case of will he or won’t he in relation to Luke Shaw starting. It’s very risky but I reckon it’s a yes for him to start against West Ham. The ankle knock didn’t look as bad as once thought and it’s been over a week since Luke sustained that injury. I think he’ll be good to go for the Old Trafford match which is great. Whether Shaw is a permanent fixture in this United team for the future is a question for another time but for now he’s are best option so if fit he starts, 100%.

VERDICT: Aaron Wan Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw

 

Midfield

Every time I write about Nemanja Matic, the more surprised I get at how much he has developed into a crucial figure in the midfield of a team in the midst of a Top 4 race. He isn’t the greatest player on the planet in doing what he does but his style compliments the more advanced forwards and allows them to get more creative. It’s astonishing how such a defensive player has such an impact in the attack. We saw Matic fail in a midfield two on Sunday, so with the hopeful return of 4-3-3, Matic will be back to his best. The Serbian terminator is a must on the team sheet.

 

Over the past week, we’ve seen Pogba at his inconsistent worst. I don’t think many in the world doubt the talent he possesses but there are questions on him showing us that talent on a regular basis. If Pogba can find that form he had immediately after lockdown then West Ham will have a very difficult time containing him in the middle of the park. The World Cup winner is a bit like a coin in that you don’t know what side of Paul Pogba you will see. Saying that, usually when the occasion calls for it, the Frenchman is on top form and I can’t think of a bigger occasion for United than this.

 

In a relatively quiet week, Bruno Fernandes has still recorded a goal and assist. You know you have something special when a player can still contribute to a game without necessarily performing well in it. Not many have had such an instant impact since signing and let’s face reality here, Bruno is the only reason we are in a Top 4 race to begin with. So, what I’m saying is, he got us here, it’s his job to get us out of this race with a Champions League ticket. Jokes aside, but he does have the ability to change every game he plays and our “Portuguese Magnifico” needs to leave his stamp on West Ham.

VERDICT – Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes

 

Attack

In a forest of United trees, all we can see is a sea of Greenwood. In layman terms, United have a squad full of superstars but Mason Greenwood is the brightest of those talents. Yes, the young Englishman has had a quiet week but he’s 18 years old, give the kid a break. A game like West Ham can suit Mason to a tee and that’s why his quick feet could help United break through a tough ‘Hammers’ backline. Come on Mason, put the world on notice again.

 

Marcus Rashford is my player of the week. In an up and down seven days for United, Rashford was the one who create the most chances and even tucked a few home himself. He was arguably the slowest out of lockdown but is rapidly finding his feet again and proving why he’s one of the best wingers in the league if not the world. His partnership with you know who is really beginning to click now and that has no signs of stopping. Marcus needs to be at his best for this game and could be the difference maker in key areas of this game.

 

You don’t have Rashford without Martial, do you? I’d go as far as to say Martial has been the best and most consistent United player since lockdown. It’s great watching him receive supply constantly from Bruno and Pogba rather than feeding off scraps with Lingard and Pereira. It just shows the importance of the midfield for any attacker. His confidence is sky high and he is playing with a giant smile on his face. How can you not like Anthony Martial? Anyway, if the supply meets the demand then Martial could be a regular on the scoresheet at Old Trafford against Moyes’s Boys.

VERDICT: Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

West Ham Team News

West Ham are safe. Let’s just say that now. It would take a series of very unfortunate events for ‘The Irons’ to collapse out of the Premier League. In terms of their team, Robert Snodgrass is out for this encounter due to a “lack of match sharpness” which is a big blow for David Moyes and co. and before you laugh at that sentence just remember the goalscoring form the Scotsman was in before lockdown.

 

In other news, Ryan Fredericks is a doubt for the game after receiving a knock against Watford, young eye-catching talent Jeremy Ngakia’s contract has expired and is no longer a West Ham player which is also the case for South American pair Carlos Sanchez and Pablo Zabaleta.

 

Perhaps the biggest concern for Solskjaer and his team is the hot form of Michail Antonio who has scored five of West Ham’s seven goals in the past two games. His form came at the right time for ‘The Hammers’ as it helped them maintain Premier League status.

 

The only other issue is a potential conflict on interest regarding English international Declan Rice. Despite Chelsea being hot favourites for the young hammer’s signature, United have also been linked with the midfielder so the game would be an interesting scouting session for him.

 

The probable West Ham line-up is below:

Prediction

Goal Difference could play a part in both team’s respective fights with the numbers so close at both ends of the table. A monumental loss for West Ham would cause problems, especially if they lose to Aston Villa on the final day, while a big win for United would secure them the fourth spot going into the final game where Leicester would need to beat them by the set amount of goals.

 

This game will begin cautious and a goal will settle things for United. Ole will then see his team double their lead before a ‘Hammers’ strike to make it 2-1. I can see United going to the death with a single goal margin only to nick a third right at the end. I’m going a 3-1 win for Manchester United.

VERDICT: Manchester United 3-1 West Ham United

 

Do you think ‘The United Express’ is pulling into the Champions League station with Ole in the driver’s seat? Let me know your thoughts by depositing them in the comments below. COME ON UNITED.

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