Manchester United will welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Both United and the Hammers were in action on Thursday evening in the Europa League and Europa Conference League respectively, both winning their matches.
United beat Sheriff 3-0 with Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the goals. The Hammer beat Silkeborg 1-0 with Manuel Lanzini scoring the only goal of the match. United are on a seven match unbeaten run following the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City.
The Hammers are currently on a two match winning streak which could be ended by Erik ten Hag’s side on Sunday evening. United will be seeking to get back into the top five, or even the top four if both Chelsea and Newcastle United do not get positive results in their matches this weekend.
Predicted Manchester United Starting XI – 4-2-3-1
Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw;
Antony, Fernandes, Rashford;
Goalkeeper: De Gea
I did not expect David De Gea to start against Sheriff as I saw it as a match that Martin Dubravka could have started. As it turned out, De Gea kept his 172nd clean sheet of his United career and did not have to do much, so was rested in a way that will keep him fresh for the Hammers on Sunday.
De Gea is three clean sheets from matching the record set by Alex Stepney and eight away from equalling what Peter Schmeichel achieved at United. That is a good achievement from the Spaniard and he will be proud to achieve tat when he gets there, which could be at a point this season.
I would expect Dubravka to make his debut before the World Cup next month, which means if he does not play on Sunday or next Thursday – as that is a crucial match, he could play in either of the matches against Aston Villa or even against Fulham just before the World Cup commences.
Defenders: Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw
The United defence received a blow last weekend when Raphael Varane came off injured against Chelsea and will seemingly be out of action until the FIFA World Cup. That said, Harry Maguire is now back to fitness after injury, so United have options moving forward.
Diogo Dalot scored his first goal of the season on Thursday night against Sheriff, putting in a good performance at times, so he should once again start at right-back. Luke Shaw needs to be starting at left-back, as when he came on, his performance inspired United to achieve more.
In the centre of the defence both Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez should start against the Hammers as they have played well together. Maguire could come on to replace either later in the match to get him up to speed and regain his match fitness. United do have a stronger defence.
Midfield: Casemiro, Eriksen
It is safe to say that United’s best midfield duo at this time is Casemiro and Christian Eriksen. The Brazilian has stated the last seven matches since the Everton match, scoring against Chelsea at the death last weekend earning a vital Premier League point. He has been a top signing.
Eriksen is the best signing to be made in the summer for the impact that he has shown this season – as a free agent too. That still surprises me to this day. He has four assists in all competitions so far this season and looks set to create more and more assists in the coming matches.
Having both of these players on the pitch means that United’s midfield is effectively complete and able to take matches by the scruff of the neck and grind out the results. I have Fred, Scott McTominay and even Donny van de Beek to fall back on adds more strength in depth.
Attacking Midfield: Antony, Fernandes, Rashford
Marcus Rashford scored his sixth goal the season against Sheriff on Thursday evening, playing a good 45 minutes in the match. He is important to start against the Hammers providing he is not the leading striker on the pitch. Him on the left or even as a number ten at times is his strength.
Bruno Fernandes plays a part in matches as the captain with Maguire not on the pitch but in terms of scoring and registering assists, improvement it required. He’s a class act to have in the team it is just that United need to get more from him. I am sure that will happen this season at some point.
Antony has been a player that has come into the Premier League and found his feet very well. He scored three goals in his first three matches in the league but has not scored since. His showboating shows the flair player that he is and he wants to achieve. He will be important.
Cristiano Ronaldo looked like a player determined to put everything behind him on Thursday evening and push to the very end of the match, if required, to find that elusive 701st club career goal. He got there in the final ten minutes of the match scoring with a predatory finish against Sheriff.
Yes, he’s getting older and has lost a lot of his pace but in terms of that striker’s instinct, he still has it. His form has been questionable at times and it has been safe to say that United are better without him on the pitch but he’s still a United player and has the ingredients to perform.
With United still not having Anthony Martial back in the squad, which I presume is the case ahead of this match, United need to either play Marcus Rashford up top where he does not play to his abilities, or in his favoured left-wing role or even as a number ten. This could work well for United.
Substitutes: Dubravka; Maguire, Malacia; Fred, Pellistri, van de Beek, McTominay; Sancho, Garnacho
Ten Hag has five substitutions to use in the Premier League, which will see more match time for the fringe players in this squad. Martin Dubravka looks set to remain on the bench ahead of this match with De Gea the better option. He will need to make his debut at some point though.
In defence, it is expected that Harry Maguire and Tyrell Malacia will be available should they be needed, which could add more strength to the defence. In the midfield, Fred, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay should be available for this match to add depth.
In terms of attacking players, with Anthony Martial still seemingly out of action, United could have just Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho for this match. Garnacho did well against Sheriff so will probably get some minutes in the Premier League at some point. A legend in the making?
Written by John Walker