Predicted XI: [4-3-3] Ronaldo, Elanga and Greenwood to fire United home against the Hammers; Fernandes to lead United to victory; Jones and Varane in defence?

Manchester United will face West Ham United at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon as the Red Devils play at the traditional time of 3pm. Ralf Rangnick’s side will have work ahead of them to take on the Hammers. David Moyes will be seeking to guide his side back to victory after their 3-2 defeat to Leeds United at the weekend. United drew 2-2 with Aston Villa last weekend, beating Brentford 3-1 on Wednesday evening and sit just two points behind the Hammers with a game in hand over them. The push for top four is real although the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are also pushing to break into the top four this.

This is going to be a tough season for United, especially if they do not gather some kind of consistent form and get through their matches, especially against those teams above them and close to them in the Premier League table. Pulling away from those clubs who are close is key to breaking into and keeping a place in the top four. Whilst there are about seven or eight teams seeking to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season, nothing is going to be guaranteed. As United stepped up, albeit in the second half against Brentford and have not really been embarrassed with any big defeats since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left, there is a chance.

Previous meetings with West Ham United and their connections with Manchester United.

United and West Ham have met a total of 52 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 31 times, drawing 13 times with the Hammers winning the remaining seven times. United have scored 101 goals, winning five penalties and scoring four of them. The Hammers have scored 46 goals, winning four penalties, scoring three of them. United have kept a total of 19 clean sheets with the Hammers keeping seven. Discipline is not that great between these two sides with United players shown 62 yellow cards and four red cards and the Hammers players shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

There is a lot of history between United and the Hammers. David Moyes, the Hammers’ manager was the former manager of United during the ill-fated 2013/14 season and he was sacked before the season even finished. There have been many players to have played for both clubs, the most recent being Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of last season at the club. The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Teddy Sheringham, Javier Hernandez, Carlos Tevez, Roy Carroll, David Bellion, Jonathan Spector and Ravel Morrison have all played for both clubs and probably more in the not too distant past.

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

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea gets a lot of criticism after every match because there are supposed fans of this football club finding something to moan about, which always turns into a pile-on. Sad. De Gea is a great goalkeeper who has some faults. That can be said for each and every goalkeeper in this game. Not one of them is strong in all of the attributes required to be a goalkeeper. De Gea is great at making saves but there are many flaws that he will know about and it not trying to hide. Granted, his distribution against Brentford was not the best but judging that for one match, not taking into account his total distribution rate is poor judgement.

De Gea has given United the best of his years and he will continue to do that. Dean Henderson is seeking to challenge the goalkeeper for the number one shirt at the club, but so far he has been limited to two appearances this season and he will have to wait for the manager to give him a chance. In the meantime, De Gea is going to be at the forefront of United’s drive to turn the season around. He has been at the club during the reign of every manager from Sir Alex Ferguson to Rangnick and knows that is required for United to win. I would suggest people let him do what he does as it is not our decision to play him, it is Rangnick’s.

Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles

United’s defence has largely been positive in the past few matches, despite a draw against Villa and the victory over Brentford, which came after a poor first half performance by the entire team. Diogo Dalot got the message in the second half, putting a poor first half performance behind him but he will need to focus on a few weaknesses in order to keep the right-back position. Alex Telles was a refreshing starter but his attacking play will need improvement from the Brentford match, as will his set-piece play, which was not doing much for United. It should be so much better from this squad – which shows the problems that need solving.

In the centre of defence, Phil Jones should be given another chance to show what he can do, which will either get him in the shop window for the remainder of the January transfer window, or with a view to moving him on in the summer, of letting him show what he is worth and keeping him as a squad player. With almost two years of injury behind him, he could return as a player that will give something to the cause. Raphael Varane is a guaranteed starter in the defence this season. He is solid and keeps his cool, which is great to see at United after many years of defensive struggles with both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic needing to be replaced.

Midfield Three: Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes

United’s midfield is not likely to get any reinforcement this month, which is a shame but also understandable. No new players are going to come to the club whilst the future of it is still up in the air. The summer is going to be a busy one for United and there will be many changes, hopefully from the very top of the club which is where the rot has started. Scott McTominay, if fit, should be starting against West Ham as he is one of the players that is so determined to get results. He came off injured against Brentford but it could have been to stop anything further from happening to him – therefore keeping him with something in reserve for Saturday.

Fred should start too as he has provided a lot this season, getting his fourth assist of the season, also scoring two goals. With the likes of Paul Pogba still absent, amid suggestions of whether he will play for the club again as his contract expires in the summer, which will end his second stint at the club with no real solution for what he wanted to finish at the club. The Brazilian is an easy target for criticism, but in the last few matches, without hi and McTominay, United might have been a lot worse. Bruno Fernandes is an obvious player to start against the Hammers with his seven goals and 11 assists so far this season, it would be mad not to play him.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood, Cristiano Ronaldo, Anthony Elanga

Cristiano Ronaldo is the top scorer for the club this season and whilst his frustration was clear when he was substituted against Brentford, he must have known that it was to keep him fit for the West Ham match this weekend. He has 14 goals and three assists to his name this season and will need to score more to keep United in the hunt to meet their objectives this season – which will be to secure a place in the top four as challenging for the Premier League title is long out of the window. He is a winner, experienced life under Sir Alex Ferguson and will want to succeed during the second stint of his career at the Old Trafford club.

Mason Greenwood scored a great finish against Brentford and will be seeking to keep it going, reaching the heights that he did last season and the one before. He’s a talented forward and a good finisher, having a great eye for a goal. His confidence needs to be built up again as this season has been a turbulent one for him. Anthony Elanga has been rewarded with many first team minutes this season and paid the club back for trusting in him by scoring the first goal against Brentford, which was his second goal for the club in his career. He’s a great talent and it shows the quality of the players coming through the clubs academy.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire; Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek; Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho

Nine substitutes allowed on the bench with three being utilised in the Premier League. United have a few players out due to injury and illness and they are not expected to be back for this match so will have the best part of a fortnight to recover ahead of the FA Cup fourth round fixture against Middlesbrough on the 4 February. I would expect to see Dean Henderson on the bench for this match once again – perhaps he could be given a chance against Middlesbrough which could be good for both him and United. I would not expect Rangnick to start him in this match being that United need the victory and it will be a tough match.

In defence, Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire could be available and that will be if for this area with injuries and illness factored in. Rangnick could bring in a youth player to sit on the bench in the fullback position but chances are, if another injury happens in this position, the formation could be changed. In midfield, Jesse Lingard, if fit, Nemanja Matić and Donny van de Beek could be called upon if needed. In attack, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, if back in training, could give United some experience from the bench which might be needed if the match plays out like the Brentford one on Wednesday evening.

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.