Manchester United return to action against West Ham United in the Premier League on Wednesday evening after being beaten by Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday evening. This is the final league match at the Theatre of Dreams this season and will be the penultimate match of the season at home. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will need to get his team firing in this game to stop the Hammer from doing the double over them this season and break into the top four.
If United beat David Moyes’ side, they will rise up to third in the league with Chelsea due to face Liverpool in the later kick off on Wednesday, meaning that they could, if Chelsea beat Liverpool, still be fourth in the league going into the final match of the season against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday. United will not win the FA Cup this season but they should at least ensure UEFA Champions League football.
How United have faired against West Ham in the Premier League.
United and West Ham have played 47 times in the Premier League with United winning 28, drawing 12 and losing seven times. United have scored 94 goals conceding 43. United have kept 18 clean sheets with the Hammers keeping seven. United have won five penalties, scoring four with the Hammers winning two and scoring both. United have been shown 55 yellow cards with the Hammer having 71. United have had four red cards with the Hammers getting two.
Earlier this season, at the London Stadium, the Hammers beat United 2-0 with Andriy Yarmolenko and Aaron Cresswell scoring the goals. It was a tough defeat for United to take and after losing against Chelsea in the semi-final of the FA Cup on Sunday, Solskjaer’s side should be looking to bounce back. In this fixture last season, United won with two Paul Pogba penalties which cancelled out Felipe Anderson’s 49th minute equaliser.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper had a terrible game against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Sunday. He conceded two goals which he should have stopped easily. He will know that and despite what Solskjaer has said in public, he will have reminded him that he needs to up his form to continue as United’s number one goalkeeper. Some of the best goalkeepers in the world have had blips but this seems to be more than just a blip. De Gea carried United for a number of seasons, literally being the player that stopped United from being beaten. It is time we admit that he has been poor but repay him for his loyalty. A goalkeeper in poor form could change that form with a but of support. This is what supporting a team is all about.
Defenders: Tim Fosu-Mensah, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
United face some problems in defence at this stage of the season with Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones already out of action before Luke Shaw injured his ankle against Southampton and before Eric Bailly received a head injury at Wembley. This will leave United with two central defenders that have experience. We could see Solskjaer draft Ethan Laird and Teden Mengi into the first team, however, it is unlikely that they will start. Aaron Wan-Bissaka needs to be rested from this game, keeping him fresh for Sunday’s match against Leicester City. Tim Fosu-Mensah can take his place. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will continue in the centre of defence with Brandon Williams keeping his place at left-back with United returning to a back four formation.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba
In midfield, the lack of Paul Pogba on Sunday left United weak. Fred is a decent midfielder, or has been when United relied upon him week after week, but after little time on the pitch, any form he built during that time playing week after week has gone. Pogba should start in this game, alongside Nemanja Matic, which is the best partnership possible at this time. Scott McTominay has lost form majorly too and he needs playing time to change that, but right now, United need to be winning matches. Perhaps, if United beat West Ham, Solskjaer could play some of these players against Leicester, or even giving them a run out against LASK in the final match of the season at Old Trafford.
Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood
Solskjaer changes his attacking formation against Chelsea and despite other times whereby it paid off, this one backfired. United will need to resort to the 4-2-3-1 formation with Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, and Marcus Rashford playing in the advanced areas. All three players will be unhappy with the defeat on Sunday and will be seeking to come back from that by taking advantage of Leicester’s defeat to Spurs and even assuming that Liverpool will beat Chelsea, which could see United rise to third in the Premier League this week, which would be uplifting from Sunday’s defeat – the clubs first in 20 matches, ending in 19 matches unbeaten, which is proof that something is being built at the club.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The French forward has been in some great form this season, Granted, it did not happen for him on Sunday, despite the fact he won the penalty that got United a late consolation goal, through Fernandes. In truth, later scoring 22 goals this season, like Rashford, Martial will need to keep firing to ensure his future looks good at the club. When Martial signed for United, some were unsure of the type of player that Louis van Gaal had signed but in his first game, he showed the world what he could do. Five years later, he is still showing what he can do, beating his best ever season at the club (his first) by five goals so far. Tony Martial came from France…
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ethan Laird, Teden Mengi; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred, Scott McTominay; Odion Ighalo
Solskjaer will have five substitutes to use during matches for the remainder of the season and the whole of next season. Some will moan that the bigger clubs hold an advantage but all teams in the Premier League will need a certain squad size, so why not allow all players to be used across the season? This is a positive not a negative. Despite the fact that many will be calling for De Gea to be dropped, Sergio Romero will remain on the bench. In defence, Wan-Bissaka, Ethan Laird and Teden Mengi could be called upon, if needed. I would prefer the right-back to be completely rested though. In midfield, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Fred and Scott McTominay will be available. Odion Ighalo will be the only attacking player on the bench.
Written by John Walker