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Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Diallo, Fernandes and James to support Greenwood in attack against West Ham; Rashford to have some involvement?

Manchester United return to Premier League action at Old Trafford when they welcome West Ham United on Sunday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have had a tough season and despite results not being great, they are not unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions. David Moyes’ side is in fine form at this stage of the season with the club seeking to finish in the European places, which would be a great result for the club and something they will strive to complete as long as they stay in with a chance of achieving that. Jesse Lingard has been a good loan signing for the club, but he won’t be able to feature against United.

United had a poor result at Old Trafford against AC Milan on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg in which Milan scored twice in the opening 11 minutes of the match; the first being ruled out of offside, the second for a hand ball. United scored in the 50th minute of the match with Amad Diallo coming on at the start of the half and scoring his first goal for the club in five minutes. United led until the penultimate minute of added time with Dean Henderson punching Simon Kjaer’s header into the back of his net with the away goal finally being scored, which puts Milan in an advantageous position ahead of the second leg.

How United have faired against West Ham United in the Premier League.

United and the Hammers have played 49 times in the history of the Premier League with United winning 29 times, drawing 13 times and losing just seven times. United have scored a total of 98 times, conceding 45. The Red Devils have won five penalties, scoring four of them with the Hammers winning three and scoring all of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets against the Hammers with the London club keeping just seven. In terms of disciplining, United’s players have been shown a total of 58 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammer’s players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

Earlier this season, United beat the Hammers at the London Stadium with a 3-1 scoreline with saw Tomas Soucek open the scoring in the 38th minute of the match. Paul Pogba equalised in the 65th minute, Anthony Martial put United ahead in the 68th minute and Marcus Rashford completed the scoring in the 78th minute of the match to claim all three points. In this fixture last season, is was a 1-1 draw with Michail Antonio scoring a penalty in added time at the end of the first half and Mason Greenwood equalising in the 51st minute. United and the Hammers met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in February with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

David De Gea is back in the country but must isolate for five days before having a coronavirus test, then he will need another to get back into a stadium – both must be positive. It is unlikely that he has had the time out before this match so Dean Henderson will keep his place, which will be the longest run he has had in goal at United. It has been largely positive for him, apart from conceding that goal against Milan on Thursday evening, which would have annoyed him. Henderson is a capable goalkeeper and I like the fact he is very vocal but he is also inexperienced and playing for United will help that. He should relish the competition at the club.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United have kept four clean sheets in the last six matches, conceding two goals, which is good form, despite some of the results being 0-0 draws. Solskjaer’s defence is stronger than the rest of the team at this present time with up to seven players on the sidelines through injury. Eric Bailly faced Milan on Thursday, which suggests Victor Lindelof will be back in the team tomorrow. Alex Telles also started against the Italians, so Luke Shaw will probably be back in the team. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire will keep their places against the Hammers with United needing a victory to make it easier to finish inside the top four this season.

Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

The midfield is rather depleted at tis stage of the season with just Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic fit to face the Hammers. Matic played against Milan on Thursday, as did McTominay with both players playing 90 minutes. Matic would be a poor pick to start again in a few days, so McTominay and Fred should start together. It may not be ideal but it is the best option right now with neither Paul Pogba or Donny van de Beek likely to be involved due to injury. United had good squad depth in the midfield this season but injuries cannot be helped. Perhaps Solskjaer will draft in a youth player, but their injury woes are not much better right now.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James

It might be a bit much expecting Amad Diallo to start against West Ham but with the injury crisis as it is at the club right now, United have few options. I would like to see him eased in so that he does not get affected by the quality in the league but I think he has what it takes to get something for his club, as was shown with his goal against Milan on Thursday, which he achieved five minutes after replacing Anthony Martial. Bruno Fernandes is a dead cert in this match and after a busy period, he might be feeling the pressure, which is something he will thrive on. Daniel James should be the other starter, playing well in the recent matches.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

It would seem that Mason Greenwood might be the only fit forward to face West Ham this weekend. It is a shame that it has come to this, which might place a lot of pressure on the forward but he has the skills, the ambition and the determination to succeed and it might just be the right time for hims to shine. Of course, there are rumours that Marcus Rashford could be fit enough to face the Hammers but it may not be all that ideal as if he makes his injury worse, he could be missing for a longer period of time. United should have enough to show their presence against the Hammers but they really need to win this match.

Substitutes: Lee Grant; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Nemanja Matic, Ethan Galbraith, Shola Shoretire; Marcus Rashford

Solskjaer may struggle to fill his substitutes bench with up to seven players likely to miss this match but I managed to think of nine to fill the bench. Lee Grant will be the replacement goalkeeper with the absence of David De Gea. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe offer something, if needed. In midfield, which is the weakest area right now, Nemanja Matic, Ethan Galbraith and Shola Shoretire could find some involvement in this big match for United. Marcus Rashford could be available on the bench in attack with rumours suggesting that he cold have recovered enough to have some involvement.

Written by John Walker

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