Manchester United travel to London on Saturday to face West Ham United at the London Stadium in the Premier League. Erik ten Hag will need to get a win in the capital this weekend in order to change the fortunes of this club heading into the New Year. United drew 0-0 with Liverpool on Sunday.
United go into this match sitting in seventh place in the Premier League with 28 points from 17 matches so far this season. West Ham sit in eighth place with 27 points so it is a clash that could change something for either team at the end of the day. United need the win though.
This season has been a problem for United. From loads of injuries, which have decimated the defensive area of the club to a player who feels he is much bigger than the club – continuing to take wages doing nothing for it. The Glazers have turned Manchester United into a joke over 18+ years.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Evans, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho;
Andre Onana has had a very turbulent season at United and despite the criticism, he has not be dropped – sending the right messages from the manager. Some say it is frustrating that he’s maintained his place in goal for United, but that suggests that the understudy might not be great.
Onana is a professional and was considered the goalkeeper of the season in the UEFA Champions League last season – reaching the final and losing to Manchester City. However, this season, he is no longer the best in the Champions League and could be considered one of the worst.
Onana will be heading to the African Cup of Nations in January therefore giving United a problem as to who will be in goal with Altay Bayindir yet to make his debut for United and Tom Heaton not having played a single minute of football this season. United will need a solution.
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Evans, Shaw
United’s defence is still bleak at this stage of the season, which should let up in the New Year with injured players returning. Diogo Dalot is the latest absentee ahead of the clash with the Hammers due to his sending off against Liverpool, which was laughable.
Against the Hammers, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should be starting in the fullback positions. United tend to be in good hands with the duo, but Wan-Bissaka has gone off the boil recently – now this is his chance to find his feet once again and perform for United.
In the centre of the defence, United have few options. It is not known whether Victor Lindelof will be fit for this match, in which case Raphael Varane and Jonny Evans could be starting in the centre of the defence. Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez are big misses for United at this time.
Midfield: McTominay, Amrabat
United’s midfield is also a position of problems with Casemiro and Christian Eriksen both out of action at this time, although Eriksen has returned to training and could be involved in this match. That said, the rise of Kobbie Mainoo has been a positive this season – need to see more of him.
In recent matches, Scott McTominay has been a big relief for United and at this time is the current top scorer for the club – which shows up the attacking players, who just are not providing for United. McTominay was partnered with Sofyan Amrabat against Liverpool.
The Moroccan has been largely criticised this season for not actually bringing anything to the team – probably by the same people who said he was going to be a revelation at the club. But that is the thing about United – supporters seem to change their views very quickly. Especially Jonny!
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Garnacho
The attacking ranks of the club are at the doldrums this season with many of them not performing as they should be. Antony is just one of these players. Granted, he has some personal problems earlier in the summer, which have been addressed but his footballing ability is still questionable.
Bruno Fernandes has shown some glimpses of his ability this season, but he owes the club so much more being the captain and should be earning his wages by ensuring that the team do everything they can to bring the glory days back to the club, which looks unlikely for now.
Alejandro Garnacho is perhaps the only player in these positions who has earned his stripes this season and done what he needs to be doing. Of course, throughout the course of the season he will continue to shine, as he does, and try to change things. But he cannot do it all on his own.
Rasmus Hojlund is a bright player for United but in terms of bagging the goals this season – he has only been able to do that in the UEFA Champions League. His debut goal in the Premier League is only a matter of time away from happening but he should be pushing for it to happen.
I believe that he’s doing everything he can to be the talisman for United, which will take time. In all actuality, it is the creativity of the players behind him that are failing him. Some will not pass the ball to him as they want to score themselves, but fail to do so. It is not good enough.
There are no other players that can do better in the striker role for United this season as Anthony Martial is the only other player with experience of leading the line, and he produces next to nothing when he plays and can’t be bothered to run. What a shambles!
Substitutes: Bayindir; Lindelof, Reguilon; van de Beek, Mainoo, Hannibal; Martial, Rashford, Pellistri
United will have nine players on the bench against the Hammers, using put o five of them throughout the course of the match. Ten Hag will need to make changes at different intervals but those players will need to produce, or there would be no point in making the changes at the end of the day.
Altay Bayindir will be the substitute goalkeeper on the bench against West Ham. Whether he gets a chance remains to be seen. In the defensive area, Victor Lindelof could be available if he’s fit and Sergio Reguilon could also be an option. If not, youth players could be involved.
In the midfield, Donny van de Beek, Kobbie Mainoo and Hannibal could all be options. Or another youth player could be called upon? In the attacking ranks, another area United lack in good options could see Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Facundo Pellistri as options from the bench.
Written by John Walker