Manchester United are on the road again in the Premier League this weekend as they face West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday evening. The Hammers played on Monday evening, beating Aston Villa 2-1 and will have had at least four days to rest ahead of their next match whilst United played on both Sunday, beat Southampton 3-2 and on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to PSG, giving them just two days of rest ahead of the match. This can be seen as both positive and negative with United’s fitness possibly being higher than the Hammers, but fatigue could also kick in for United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to rotate his squad a little to continue throughout the month with seven more matches to be played before the end of the year which will see United finding out their fate in the Champions League and the Carabao Cup on their quest for trophies. David Moyes will also be seeking to get the better of United once again after his dire nine-month spell at the club. Solskjaer’s side will need to be at their best to take on the Hammers, who have been playing some good football. United also need to keep one eye on Tuesday’s match away to RB Leipzig – avoiding defeat there will see United remain in the Champions League.
How United have faired against West Ham United in the Premier League.
United and the Hammers have played a total of 48 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 28, the Hammers have won seven with both teams drawing 13 times. United have scored 95 goals against the Hammers; winning five penalties, scoring four of them. The Hammers have scored 44 goals against United; winning three penalties, scoring all of them. United have kept a clean sheet 18 times with the Hammers keeping seven. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 58 yellow cards and four red cards whereas the Hammers have been shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.
In this fixture last season, which was played on the 22 July 2020, it was a 1-1 draw between the two sides at the London Stadium with Michail Antonio opening the scoring from the penalty spot in added time at the end of the first half and Mason Greenwood equalising in the 51st minute of the match, assisted by Anthony Martial. At Old Trafford in a match which was played on the 22 September 2019, the Hammers won 2-0 with Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell scoring the goals in either half to take all three points in the match, United will need to be in good form against the Hammers, who are doing well this season.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Premier League at the London Stadium on Saturday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
Despite conceding three goals against PSG, the Spanish goalkeeper put in a good performance and made a few good saves to keep United in the match. Against Southampton on Sunday, De Gea came off due to an injury to his knee, which he seemed to recover from but showed signs of strain on Wednesday evening against PSG. If fit, he would be the best option against the Hammers but Dean Henderson will do his best if he gets the opportunity once again. United have two positive goalkeepers and with Henderson pushing De Gea, it could turn into something good for United as they have struggled with goalkeepers in the past.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Alex Telles
The defence is an area that will require some work during the January transfer window, if United are going to be active. Victor Lindelof’s performance against PSG was poor at times and I think that with Eric Bailly back from injury and Axel Tuanzebe able to play against the Hammers, after suspension against PSG, there are two other options to partner Harry Maguire. I think Tuanzebe will be that man. Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will play in the fullback positions against West Ham with United needing to put in a defensive performance to get the better of the London club this weekend.
Midfield Two: Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay
I was not all that impressed by Fred against PSG. He lost his head and was given the chance to redeem himself but ended up getting sent off. Many will blame Solskjaer for that, but Fred is responsible for his own actions. He let his teammates, the manager, the coaches and the supporters down with his actions. Because of his actions, he should be dropped. He cannot keep doing things like that. Donny van de Beek should take his place in the centre of midfield with Scott McTominay keeping his place. He rose in stature against PSG. Never let Neymar get away with his pathetic acting and always put in the effort, which is great to see.
Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial
This is an area where United need to perform much better. Against PSG, Bruno Fernandes had a poor game based on his standards and that led to criticism of him too. He’s been the player to set the standards at the club the season and some seem to expect Man of the Match performances all of the time, which is not going to happen. Mason Greenwood could be recalled on the right-wing with Anthony Martial playing on the left-wing. Both players will need to perform to the best of their abilities with Martial aiming to finish his chances much better than he did against PSG, which was a poor performance for him.
Forward: Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani has earned himself his stripes at United so far this season, despite playing a minor role compared to some of his teammates. He was unfortunate not to have scored against his former club on Wednesday evening, chipping the goalkeeper but hitting the crossbar. Some criticised the player for doing that but if he had scored it, the criticism would have not happened. On the other hand, if he’d tried to round the keeper and score and miss, the criticism would still be there, probably moaning about the fact he could have chipped the keeper. You can’t with with these moaning fans nowadays.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams; Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic; Marcus Rashford
Back to three substitutes in the Premier League, Solskjaer might not be able to rotate many players with the threat of the Hammer on the horizon. United will need a victory to keep rising in the league table and after a defeat, a win will restore confidence. Dean Henderson will most likely be on the bench in this match, unless De Gea is unable to play, which could be a possibility, keeping him fit for Tuesday. In defence, Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams could be there if needed. In midfield, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic could offer something with Marcus Rashford the only attacking player on the bench.
Written by John Walker