Preview: West Ham hold the key to get into the top four but Manchester United need to find consistent form first

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 22 January 2022, KO 15:00 GMT

Referee: Jonathan Moss Assistants: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood

Fourth Official: Michael Salisbury

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin

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 season.

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.

Manchester United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: WDWLWD

Brentford 3-1 W, Aston Villa 2-2 D, Aston Villa 1-0 W, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 L, Burnley 3-1 W, Newcastle United 1-1 D

Goals: 14 – Cristiano Ronaldo, 7 – Bruno Fernandes, 6 – Mason Greenwood, 4 – Marcus Rashford, 2 – Edinson Cavani, Fred, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Jadon Sancho, 1 – Anthony Elanga, Own Goal, Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Alex Telles, Donny van de Beek

Assists: 11 – Bruno Fernandes, 7 – Paul Pogba, 4 – Fred, 3 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Luke Shaw, 2 – Mason Greenwood, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic 1 – Own Goal, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Alex Telles, Raphael Varane

West Ham United – Recent Form, Goals Scored and Assists: LWWWWL

Leeds United 3-2 L, Norwich City 2-0 W, Leeds United 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 3-2 W, Watford 4-1 W, Southampton 3-2 L

Goals: 9 – Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, 8 – Saïd Benrahma, 6 – Manuel Lanzini, 5 – Pablo Fornals, 3 – Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, 2 – Mark Noble, 1 – Aaron Cresswell, Craig Dawson, Issa Diop, Ben Johnson, Arthur Masuaku, Angelo Ogbonna, Nikola Vlasic, Andriy Yarmolenko, Kurt Zouma

Assists: 8 – Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, 5 – Aaron Cresswell, 4 – Saïd Benrahma, Vladimir Coufal, Declan Rice, 2 – Pablo Fornals, Manuel Lanzini, Nikola Vlasic, 1 – Craig Dawson, Arthur Masuaku, Tomas Soucek

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.

Team News: Four players could be missing for United with another a doubt whilst the Hammers have four ruled out with one close to returning. This could be a good match with United needing a victory.

Eric Bailly (AFCON), Paul Pogba (Thigh), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Illness), Luke Shaw (Thigh) and Edinson Cavani (Muscular) have all seemingly been ruled out of the clash with West Ham United on Saturday. Jadon Sancho was missing against Brentford. There is a chance he could be back for the match against the Hammers. United will have more or less the same squad they had against Brentford this weekend, before an almost two-week break before they face Middlesbrough at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup on the 4 February 2022. Perhaps some youth will be included on the bench?

Angelo Ogbonna (Knee), Mohamed Said Benrahma (AFCON), Kurt Zouma (Thigh) and Mark Noble (Knee) have all been ruled out of the visit to the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday afternoon. Tomas Soucek (Illness) has a 75% chance of being fit for this match but as he has been out for a while, his fitness might be an issue for this match. In that case, David Moyes will need to find a way around his absence, if that is the case. United need to be beating the Hammers to have a good chance of breaking into the top four this season. The Hammer sit two points clear of them in fourth place, having played one more match than United at this stage of the season.

Predicted Starting XI: Ronaldo, Elanga, Greenwood and Fernandes to start against the Hammers; McTominay and Fred to keep their places with Varane and Jones in defence?

Rangnick will need to ensure he selected the right bunch of players for this match. Against Brentford, United were the second-best team on the pitch in the first half but that changed in the second as they scored three goals – conceding one. The Hammers are a different team and as United found out in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford earlier this season, they can get something quickly from the match. West Ham sit above United in the top four and a win over them, with United also having a game in hand, they could help them out of the top four, although both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are pushing for a place in the top four too.

David De Gea will keep his place in goal despite the criticism he has been getting with his distribution. His saves have kept United in matches, although Dean Henderson needs to be given a chance sooner rather than later. In defence, Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles will likely continue as the fullbacks because of injuries and illness. Phil Jones and Raphael Varane should be tested again in the centre of the defence. Scott McTominay should play the defensive role in a midfield three, if fit with Fred and Bruno Fernandes featuring, with the latter further forward. Anthony Elanga and Mason Greenwood should flank Cristiano Ronaldo in attack.

Match Prediction: West Ham are a tough team to beat as United have found out. They did the double over them last season and have already won at the London Stadium but the defeat in the Carabao Cup looms.

Last season United did the double over West Ham, also beating them in the Emirates FA Cup. In the first match last season, which was played at the London Stadium, it was a 3-1 victory for United with Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford scoring the goals. At Old Trafford, it was a 1-0 victory for United with Craig Dawson scoring an own goal. United also beat the Hammers in the third round of the FA Cup with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal of the match. The Hammers are a tough team to beat and this will be a big test for United, as has been shown this season already.

Back in September, United faced the Hammers at the London Stadium, winning 2-1 with Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard scoring the goals or United. However, at the end of the match West Ham won a penalty, which could have taken away a victory for United but David De Gea made the save to deny the Hammers. Just three days later, the two teams faced at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup with West Ham winning 1-0 with Manuel Lanzini scoring the only goal of the match. United will need to be at the top of their game against the Hammers as beating them could be the key to breaking into the top four this season, which is important.

Manchester United 2-1 West Ham United

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.