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Idols: Wayne Rooney Captain, Leader, Legend

On the 31 August 2004, Manchester United signed 18-year-old Wayne Rooney from Everton in a deal worth £27 million. Throughout the month, Everton received an offer of £20 million from Newcastle United after Rooney rejected a new contract worth £50,000 per week. He also handed in a transfer request two leave Goodison Park. United had paid the highest transfer fee at the time for a player under the age of 20. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knew the type of player Rooney could become after his exploits with Everton. Since emerging as a 16-year-old, scoring 17 goals in 77 appearances before leaving for United.

Rooney had become now of the most sought-after players in Europe following his two seasons at Everton. Also having a starring role for England at Euro 2004, in which he scored four goals, matching new United teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy’s efforts for the Netherlands. Perhaps Ferguson knew what Rooney could achieve at United? If he continued to work hard and develop. The legend would spend 13 seasons at United and win all the major honours at the club, helping United to reach the pinnacle of European football once again under the reign of Ferguson, who did so for the second time in his career.

Rooney made a total of 559 appearances for United, scoring 253 goals and 146 assists. This meant that he offered a goal every 2.21 matches and a goal contribution every 1.40 matches. Rooney had a hand in 399 goals for United, which is a great figure for a player that really played in quite a few roles at the club. He played the main striking position. Also as a second striker, attacking midfielder, a winger. He even played as a defensive midfield at the end of his career. Rooney offered everything he has for much of his United career, keeping United ticking and earning the plaudits. Rooney also played 12 matches for England, scoring 53 goals.

Coming to United as a player with lots of talent.

In his first season at United, Rooney showed what he could become. On his debut for the club, against Fenerbahce in the UEFA Champions League, Rooney scored his first hat-trick for the club as United beat the Turkish club 6-2, scoring 17 goals and six assists in 43 appearances. Rooney averaged 19.46 goals for the club each season and regularly hit around the 20 goal mark each season. During two seasons (2009/10 and 2011/12) he scored 34 goals for the club. In his final season at the club (2016/17) he scored just eight goals for the club. In total, he scored eight hat-tricks for United, scoring four goals in one match, which showed his ability.

His hat-trick against Fenerbahce will be special as it was his first at United, on his debut and playing in the Champions League. He also scored hat-tricks against Bolton Wanderers (twice), and Portsmouth in the Premier League. Two other special ones will be prevalent though; the one against West Ham United on the 2 April 2011 and the one against Arsenal on the 28 August 2011 as United beat the North London club 8-2. Rooney was known for driving the mentality of the club forward, always wanting to win and win trophies. In the summer of 2010, a certain transfer request from Rooney could have chanced everything.

Rooney was being linked to Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City. He said it was never an option to sign for City and he would have chose Barcelona over Real Madrid. But the Madrid club were the likely destination. Of course, he never left United, signed a new number contract at the club and continued his career. As Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, he confirmed that Rooney had handed in a transfer request once again. David Moyes, Rooney’s former manager at Everton would need to solve that problem. Rooney was sold to Everton in the summer of 2017 just after Jose Mourinho’s first season at the club.

Chasing the clubs goalscoring record and moving on.

At United, Rooney was chasing the goalscoring record set by the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton. He scored 249 goals for United in 758 appearances. Rooney broke that record by scoring his 250th goal in January 2017, scoring three more goals for the club before leaving United. Rooney also broke Charlton’s record for England too, having scored 49 goals in 106 appearances with Rooney scored 53 goals in 120 appearances. He broke the record in 2015. Rooney was a player that craved success and guided United to many trophies with his teammates. His goals were something that helped United massively along the way plus his desire to win.

Rooney won five Premier League titles at United. He also won one FA Cup, three League Cups, and four FA Community Shields. The UEFA Champions League (playing in three finals), one UEFA Europa League and one FIFA Club World Cup were the cream of the crop. Rooney captained United taking over from Nemanja Vidic in 2014, handing the captaincy over to Michael Carrick in 2017. Since his departure, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young (who have both left) and Harry Maguire have captained the club. Rooney may be a distant memory for United now, a player that has played a part in the clubs history but he will always be remembered.

After United, Rooney went back to boyhood club Everton, staying at the club for one season before heading to the MLS in the United States of America. He played for DC United and scored 25 goals and 14 assists in 52 appearances. Rooney then returned to England signing for Championship club Derby County in 2019. He was eligible to play for the club from the 2019/20 season. He is currently the manager of the club. In the future the name Rooney might be heard against at United again as the club signed 11-year-old Kai Rooney last month, for the clubs academy. He will be sure to keep the family name alive at the club, providing he makes it there.

Written by John Walker

Ratings: Luke Shaw the Man of the Match in Hammers victory; Greenwood, McTominay, Fernandes, Lindelof and Maguire all did well

Manchester United beat West Ham United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. It was a tough match for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and was nearly a carbon copy of the Emirates FA Cup clash at the start of February in which United needed extra time to find the winner. However, in the 53rd minute, it seemed like Scott McTominay had scored United’s winner but looking at the replay, his header was deflected into Craig Dawson, who beak Lukasz Fabianski, scoring the only goal of the match. United had a total of 15 shots on goal with four of those on target. The Hammers had just seven shots, none on target and all in the second half.

From the very start of this match, it seemed like it was going to be a carbon copy of the Emirates FA Cup clash between the two sides, which was a 0-0 draw, needing extra time to find a winner. Obviously, there is not extra time in the Premier League so the two sides will need to try and win the match. The Hammers got the first chance after Mikhail Antonio drove down the left, forcing Victor Lindelof to concede a corner, which was delivered towards the far post and went straight out for a goal kick. Luke Shaw then powered down the left into the box, passing to Mason Greenwood whose flick hit Craig Dawson before dribbling into Lukasz Fabianski.

In the fifth minute of the match, Declan Rice seemed to have become injured but the soon got up to his feet and continued, which would have been a relief to David Moyes. It seemed that this was going to be a match that would see patience pay off. In the 18th minute, the Hammers were on the attack and Dean Henderson rose through a crowd to meet the ball with Jarrod Bowen coming off worse from a collision with the Hammers midfielder needing some treatment but was alright to continue. Shaw powered into the box again in the 22nd minute but Tomas Soucek got back, conceded a corner with the Hammers holding firm.

In the 25th minute of the match, Greenwood had a good chance, working himself some space on the right edge of the box, before crossing the ball into Marcus Rashford, whose header was glanced wide of the target, which should have perhaps been a much better finish from the forward who has scored 18 goals in all competitions so far this season. Two minutes later, is was Harry Maguire’s turn for some treatment after a collision with Antonio with Maguire needing some treatment to a possible facial injury. He was fine to continue, which was a good sign for United. Greenwood then found more space by Mark Noble was there to intercept the danger.

Greenwood then had a chance dead on the half hour mark of the match, getting free on the left byline but Fabianski was there at the near post, at the second attempt, to gather the ball and nullify the forward’s attack. United then started to step up the pace with Rashford now trying his luck from distance but it was deflected behind for another corner, which came to nothing. Shaw then played an over-hit pass to the left but Dawson was there to clear the line. Aaron Wan-Bissaka was booked in the 35th minute for hacking down Antonio on the left, which was his second league booking of the season.

Greenwood then forced a save out of Fabianski in the 37th minute after he raced through on goal but the Polish goalkeeper stuck out his hand to put the ball behind for another corner, which again, nothing came from it. Two minutes later, Bruno Fernandes’ clever lofted pass picked out Rashford’s run in the box but the forward could not get enough on the ball to threaten the Hammers nor trouble Fabianski. The minutes were added on at the end of the half with it ending 0-0. The Hammers had no shots on goal with United having eight; with two of those on target. This was United’s match to win based on these stats.

Scott McTominay became the second United player to be booked after he pulled back Antonio inn the 49th minute of the match after it seemed like the forward had crossed the halfway line on the attack. The Hammers then decided to test United, not that they had done so in the match so far, registering no shots on goal in the match to this point. It makes you wonder whether Moyes is holding out for a point as his side does not seem to be pushing for a victory. In the 53rd minute of the match, United broke through with Greenwood sliding a cross into Rashford, who was lurking in the box but Vladimir Coufal was there to conceded another corner.

Fernandes took the corner, curling it into the near post with McTominay rising to head the ball into the back of the net but it coming off him and then into Dawson, who beats Fabianski, conceding the first goal with the United midfielder claiming the goal, what was given as an own goal. United then tried to double their lead in the 60th minute with Fernandes’ low drive heading for the bottom corner but Fabianski performed a wonderful save to deny the Portuguese magnifico another goal this season. United kept control of the ball but the Hammers have had five shots on goal, none of them on target with just over 16 minutes left to play.

Rashford was booked for a late challenge on Coufal in the 76th minute of the match with three United players now on a yellow card in this match. Greenwood then had a chance to double United’s lead in the 78th minute after a brilliant junking run down the left, getting into the box and taking on Dawson only for his shot to his the post, which was a shame. However, it was good to see United pressing the Hammers, who deserve nothing from this match for playing passive football at times, especially during the first half. United won a corner which Fernandes took in the 81st minute but Fabianski punched it clear with United regaining possession.

The Hammers were getting players forward in the last few minutes of the match, seemingly trying to get an equaliser, but having a shot on target was the only way that could happen. United’s defence were doing their jobs and keeping the Hammers from creating credible chances. Manuel Lanzini drove into United’s area before trying to play Antonio into space but the ball took a deflection and looped up with Lanzini forced to improvise, resulting in the ball being fired over the crossbar. Daniel James showed his pace as United rushed for was minutes later, whipping the ball in the penalty area but Fabianski dived out and failed to cling onto the ball.

The Hammers seemed frustrated as the match entered the final minutes of play with United doing all they needed to win all three points after their goal in the 53rd minute of the match. James was booked in the first minute of added time, the fourth player to be booked in this match for United. In the end though, United did all they needed to do, beating the Hammers home and away this season, also beating them in the Emirates FA Cup. It was the first double over the Hammers since David Moyes managed United in the 2013/14 season, which seems like another record broken after that dreadful season for the club.

Solskjaer used no substitutes in this match, which will keep some players fresh for the visit to the San Siro when they face AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg with the gave 1-1 with Milan scoring an away goal last week. United will need to turn their attention to that match, seeking to reach the quarter-final draw ons Friday. United then face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday evening, aiming to reach the semi-final, which is a sore point for Solskjaer after losing four consecutive semi-finals; three last season and one so far this season.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Kept his 11th clean sheet for United this season. Not that the Hammers actually tried to score though with seven shots on goal, none of them on target and all in the second half. He will be pleased with his effort though, especially after a tangle early on in the match.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

United largely attacked on the left flank with Shaw which did not give Wan-Bissaka much credit but he did have some involvement in the game both defensively and in attack.

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2 Victor Lindelof

This was an impressive performance, especially against Antonio. Some suggest that Lindelof gets bullied by the more physical players but that did not happen again this evening. He's put in a few good performances recently too.

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5 Harry Maguire

Suffered a head injury in the first half and was shouting at his teammates, which was good to hear, in a leadership perspective. Got the result that was needed, which was another three points on the board to see United got back into second place ahead of the International break with just the Europa League and FA Cup matches to come in the next week.

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23 Luke Shaw

Man of the Match once again for me. United were attacking on his side with him being the most potent player on the attack. He offered a lot of width inn a season which has shown his strengths. He made an important block at the end of the match, keeping United in a winning position. This is a cracking season for Shaw.

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39 Scott McTominay

Duelled with Rice and his physical play gave him and Noble competition. He initially claimed the goal, which came off him, then onto Dawson to beat Fabianski. It was a shame it was not his goal, which would have been his eighth of the season.

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17 Fred

He covered a lot of ground and ran his heart out but in terms of something actually offered in the match, there was little. He needs to find some good form again, which will gain him the credit that he deserves.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Provided Rashford with a good chance, which was wide of the target. Came close to scoring from Fernandes' brilliant pass and hit the post in the second half. His luck will come this season.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

He played a deep role throughout some of the match, aiming to get some influence in the game. His corner resulted in the only goal of the game being scored, despite it being an own goal with no assist. He played a brilliant ball into Greenwood for his great chance in the first half. It was a shame he could not have scored.

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21 Daniel James

Showed his pace and had a few good moments in the right flank in the second half. He was not really an outlet that would have provided a goal though, despite trying.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Put in a lot of effort in the game despite not being fully fit to face the Hammers. Should have perhaps scored at least once in the first half. He played to the end which was admirable and shows what he will do for the team. I long to see a fully fit Rashford though.

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Goals: Craig Dawson 53′ o/g

Assists: N/A

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; James, Fernandes, Rashford; Greenwood

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Bishop; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Matic, Shoretire

Bookings: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 35′, Scott McTominay 49′, Marcus Rashford 76′, Daniel James 90+1′

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Marcus Rashford starts against West Ham United; Diallo on the bench with United seeking victory

Manchester United return to Premier League action at Old Trafford when they welcome West Ham United this evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have had a tough season and despite results not being great, they are not unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions. David Moyes’ side is in fine form at this stage of the season with the club seeking to finish in the European places, which would be a great result for the club and something they will strive to complete as long as they stay in with a chance of achieving that. Jesse Lingard has been a good loan signing for the club, but he won’t be able to feature against United.

United had a poor result at Old Trafford against AC Milan on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg in which Milan scored twice in the opening 11 minutes of the match; the first being ruled out of offside, the second for a hand ball. United scored in the 50th minute of the match with Amad Diallo coming on at the start of the half and scoring his first goal for the club in five minutes. United led until the penultimate minute of added time with Dean Henderson punching Simon Kjaer’s header into the back of his net with the away goal finally being scored, which puts Milan in an advantageous position ahead of the second leg.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

McTominay, Fred;

James, Fernandes, Rashford;

Greenwood

Substitutes:

Grant, Bishop; Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe; Diallo, Matic, Shoretire

West Ham United:

Fabianski;

Dawson, Diop, Cresswell;

Coufal, Rice, Noble, Soucek, Johnson

Bowen, Antonio

Substitutes:

Martin, Trott; Balbuena, Alves; Lanzini, Coventry; Benrahma, Odubeko

United and the Hammers have played 49 times in the history of the Premier League with United winning 29 times, drawing 13 times and losing just seven times. United have scored a total of 98 times, conceding 45. The Red Devils have won five penalties, scoring four of them with the Hammers winning three and scoring all of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets against the Hammers with the London club keeping just seven. In terms of disciplining, United’s players have been shown a total of 58 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammer’s players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

Earlier this season, United beat the Hammers at the London Stadium with a 3-1 scoreline with saw Tomas Soucek open the scoring in the 38th minute of the match. Paul Pogba equalised in the 65th minute, Anthony Martial put United ahead in the 68th minute and Marcus Rashford completed the scoring in the 78th minute of the match to claim all three points. In this fixture last season, is was a 1-1 draw with Michail Antonio scoring a penalty in added time at the end of the first half and Mason Greenwood equalising in the 51st minute. United and the Hammers met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in February with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Diallo, Fernandes and James to support Greenwood in attack against West Ham; Rashford to have some involvement?

Manchester United return to Premier League action at Old Trafford when they welcome West Ham United on Sunday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have had a tough season and despite results not being great, they are not unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions. David Moyes’ side is in fine form at this stage of the season with the club seeking to finish in the European places, which would be a great result for the club and something they will strive to complete as long as they stay in with a chance of achieving that. Jesse Lingard has been a good loan signing for the club, but he won’t be able to feature against United.

United had a poor result at Old Trafford against AC Milan on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg in which Milan scored twice in the opening 11 minutes of the match; the first being ruled out of offside, the second for a hand ball. United scored in the 50th minute of the match with Amad Diallo coming on at the start of the half and scoring his first goal for the club in five minutes. United led until the penultimate minute of added time with Dean Henderson punching Simon Kjaer’s header into the back of his net with the away goal finally being scored, which puts Milan in an advantageous position ahead of the second leg.

How United have faired against West Ham United in the Premier League.

United and the Hammers have played 49 times in the history of the Premier League with United winning 29 times, drawing 13 times and losing just seven times. United have scored a total of 98 times, conceding 45. The Red Devils have won five penalties, scoring four of them with the Hammers winning three and scoring all of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets against the Hammers with the London club keeping just seven. In terms of disciplining, United’s players have been shown a total of 58 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammer’s players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

Earlier this season, United beat the Hammers at the London Stadium with a 3-1 scoreline with saw Tomas Soucek open the scoring in the 38th minute of the match. Paul Pogba equalised in the 65th minute, Anthony Martial put United ahead in the 68th minute and Marcus Rashford completed the scoring in the 78th minute of the match to claim all three points. In this fixture last season, is was a 1-1 draw with Michail Antonio scoring a penalty in added time at the end of the first half and Mason Greenwood equalising in the 51st minute. United and the Hammers met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in February with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal.

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

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

David De Gea is back in the country but must isolate for five days before having a coronavirus test, then he will need another to get back into a stadium – both must be positive. It is unlikely that he has had the time out before this match so Dean Henderson will keep his place, which will be the longest run he has had in goal at United. It has been largely positive for him, apart from conceding that goal against Milan on Thursday evening, which would have annoyed him. Henderson is a capable goalkeeper and I like the fact he is very vocal but he is also inexperienced and playing for United will help that. He should relish the competition at the club.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United have kept four clean sheets in the last six matches, conceding two goals, which is good form, despite some of the results being 0-0 draws. Solskjaer’s defence is stronger than the rest of the team at this present time with up to seven players on the sidelines through injury. Eric Bailly faced Milan on Thursday, which suggests Victor Lindelof will be back in the team tomorrow. Alex Telles also started against the Italians, so Luke Shaw will probably be back in the team. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire will keep their places against the Hammers with United needing a victory to make it easier to finish inside the top four this season.

Midfield: Fred, Scott McTominay

The midfield is rather depleted at tis stage of the season with just Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic fit to face the Hammers. Matic played against Milan on Thursday, as did McTominay with both players playing 90 minutes. Matic would be a poor pick to start again in a few days, so McTominay and Fred should start together. It may not be ideal but it is the best option right now with neither Paul Pogba or Donny van de Beek likely to be involved due to injury. United had good squad depth in the midfield this season but injuries cannot be helped. Perhaps Solskjaer will draft in a youth player, but their injury woes are not much better right now.

Attacking Midfield: Amad Diallo, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James

It might be a bit much expecting Amad Diallo to start against West Ham but with the injury crisis as it is at the club right now, United have few options. I would like to see him eased in so that he does not get affected by the quality in the league but I think he has what it takes to get something for his club, as was shown with his goal against Milan on Thursday, which he achieved five minutes after replacing Anthony Martial. Bruno Fernandes is a dead cert in this match and after a busy period, he might be feeling the pressure, which is something he will thrive on. Daniel James should be the other starter, playing well in the recent matches.

Forwards: Mason Greenwood

It would seem that Mason Greenwood might be the only fit forward to face West Ham this weekend. It is a shame that it has come to this, which might place a lot of pressure on the forward but he has the skills, the ambition and the determination to succeed and it might just be the right time for hims to shine. Of course, there are rumours that Marcus Rashford could be fit enough to face the Hammers but it may not be all that ideal as if he makes his injury worse, he could be missing for a longer period of time. United should have enough to show their presence against the Hammers but they really need to win this match.

Substitutes: Lee Grant; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Axel Tuanzebe; Nemanja Matic, Ethan Galbraith, Shola Shoretire; Marcus Rashford

Solskjaer may struggle to fill his substitutes bench with up to seven players likely to miss this match but I managed to think of nine to fill the bench. Lee Grant will be the replacement goalkeeper with the absence of David De Gea. In defence, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe offer something, if needed. In midfield, which is the weakest area right now, Nemanja Matic, Ethan Galbraith and Shola Shoretire could find some involvement in this big match for United. Marcus Rashford could be available on the bench in attack with rumours suggesting that he cold have recovered enough to have some involvement.

Written by John Walker

Preview: United need a reaction from the Milan malaise and beating the Hammers will be a major positive

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 14 March 2021, KO 19:15 GMT

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Gary Beswick, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Martin Atkinson

VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn

Manchester United return to Premier League action at Old Trafford when they welcome West Ham United on Sunday evening. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have had a tough season and despite results not being great, they are not unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions. David Moyes’ side is in fine form at this stage of the season with the club seeking to finish in the European places, which would be a great result for the club and something they will strive to complete as long as they stay in with a chance of achieving that. Jesse Lingard has been a good loan signing for the club, but he won’t be able to feature against United.

United had a poor result at Old Trafford against AC Milan on Thursday evening in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg in which Milan scored twice in the opening 11 minutes of the match; the first being ruled out of offside, the second for a hand ball. United scored in the 50th minute of the match with Amad Diallo coming on at the start of the half and scoring his first goal for the club in five minutes. United led until the penultimate minute of added time with Dean Henderson punching Simon Kjaer’s header into the back of his net with the away goal finally being scored, which puts Milan in an advantageous position ahead of the second leg.

Manchester United: DWDDDW

AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D, Chelsea 0-0 D, Real Sociedad 0-0 D, Newcastle United 3-1 W

West Ham United: WLWWLD

Leeds United 2-0 W, Manchester City 2-1 L, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 W, Sheffield United 3-0 W, Manchester United 1-0 L, Fulham 0-0 D

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes is well ahead of West Ham’s top scorer, Tomas Soucek who has scored just over one quarter of the goals the Portuguese magnifico has scored this season.

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Daniel James, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

United have managed to get some good results recently despite many draws, which is a positive. It is also something that you would expect when many of the senior players are on the sidelines due to injury. In their last six matches, United have won twice and drawn four, scoring six goals and conceding two, keeping four clean sheets, one of those against Premier League leaders Manchester City last weekend. The 101 draw with AC Milan was a big blow, conceding in the penultimate minute of added time. United will need to show their spirit and get a result in this match to keep them en-route to an easier top four finish in the Premier League.

West Ham United Goals: 8 – Tomas Soucek, 7 – Michail Antonio, Sébastien Haller, 5 – Jarrod Bowen, 4 – Craig Dawson, Jesse Lingard, 3 – Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko, 2 – Angelo Ogbonna, Robert Snodgrass, 1 – Oladapo Afolayan, Felipe Anderson, Fabián Balbuena, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks, Ben Johnson, Manuel Lanzini, Declan Rice

The Hammers are riding high this season. They sit fifth in the league at the time of writing, two game in hand over Chelsea, who drew 0-0 with Leeds United on Saturday. This means that if they beat United and continue winning, they could topple Chelsea when they have played their game in hand, which could see them in the top four. David Moyes’ side will be seeking European football next season and they are in a great position to succeed in that respect. In the last six matches, the Hammer have won won three, drawn one and lost twice, scoring eight goals, conceding four and keeping three clean sheets.

Team News: United have four players ruled out and are sweating on the fitness of three others with the Hammers having four players ruled out with the fitness of another in doubt.

Phil Jones (knee), Paul Pogba (thigh), Juan Mata (other) and Donny van de Beek (other) have all been ruled out of the match against West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday evening. Edinson Cavani (other), Marcus Rashford (ankle) and Anthony Martial (hip) all have a 25% chance of featuring against the Hammers and David De Gea (paternity) who recently became a father, is back in Manchester isolated for five days in line with the coronavirus regulations. He will need a negative test both at club and Premier League level to be inn contention to play for his club again. That is not expected to happen this weekend but he could be back for Thursday.

Darren Randolph (groin-hip), Andriy Yarmolenko (knee), Angelo Ogbonna (ankle/foot), Arthur Masuaku (knee) have all been ruled out of the visit to the Theatre of Dreams through injury. Ryan Fredericks (groin/hip) has a 25% chance of being fit to face United this weekend, which means that David Moyes’ side could be without five players due to injury. Jesse Lingard, who has scored four goals for the Hammers this season, is not eligible to face United so will also miss the match. Moyes’ side have been in good form this season and at the time of writing, sit in fifth place in the Premier League, six points adrift of second-placed United.

Predicted Starting XI: Amad Diallo to start his first match for United with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side depleted by injuries ahead of Sunday’s Premier League encounter with West Ham United?

Solskjaer has a few problems ahead of this clash with West Ham United, namely injuries. Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford could all be out of action due to injuries. Also, Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata are also out of contention, giving United problems across three areas of the pitch. David De Gea will also be missing because of isolation following his return to the UK from Spain after the birth of his daughter. It is possible that there could be some surprises with Solskjaer keeping his cards close to his chest, but United look set to be without some major names, which will be a massive blow.

Match Prediction: 49 matches played in the Premier League between United and the Hammers; United have won 29 times, unbeaten 42 times, losing just seven.

United and the Hammers have played 49 times in the history of the Premier League with United winning 29 times, drawing 13 times and losing just seven times. United have scored a total of 98 times, conceding 45. The Red Devils have won five penalties, scoring four of them with the Hammers winning three and scoring all of them. United have kept 18 clean sheets against the Hammers with the London club keeping just seven. In terms of disciplining, United’s players have been shown a total of 58 yellow cards and four red cards with the Hammer’s players being shown 72 yellow cards and two red cards.

Earlier this season, United beat the Hammers at the London Stadium with a 3-1 scoreline with saw Tomas Soucek open the scoring in the 38th minute of the match. Paul Pogba equalised in the 65th minute, Anthony Martial put United ahead in the 68th minute and Marcus Rashford completed the scoring in the 78th minute of the match to claim all three points. In this fixture last season, is was a 1-1 draw with Michail Antonio scoring a penalty in added time at the end of the first half and Mason Greenwood equalising in the 51st minute. United and the Hammers met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in February with Scott McTominay scoring the only goal.

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United

Written by John Walker

Ratings: McTominay the man to lead United to the quarter-finals; the Hammers played poor defensive football and United needed inspiration

Manchester United beat West Ham United 1-0 in the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. It took extra time for United to find the after the Hammers seemingly played for a point in a game that would never see it happen. To play this defensive in a cup match was poor. Victor Lindelof had the best chance of normal time seeing Lukasz Fabianski save his effort in the first half. Mason Greenwood played well and Marcus Rashford missed an easy effort once again, seemingly needing to make things simple again. Scott McTominay opened the scoring seven minutes into the first half of extra time. United will find out who they face in the quarter-final draw which will take place on Thursday evening.

It was a pretty uneventful first half for United against the Hammers. United had the majority of the ball (69.4%). United had eight shots on goal, just one of those on target which was from Victor Lindelof and saved by Fabianski. Mason Greenwood looked in the tone at times, as did Alex Telles, who played well in his first appearance for a while. If United were to make it to the quarter-final of the FA Cup this season, they would need to find some improvement. I felt that the Hammers were playing the game to win a point, which was never going to happen, this being a knockout cup competition. Perhaps the second half would show a better brand and style of football from both teams?

At the start of the second half, United started well but found the Hammers defending well and in numbers. Minutes later, West Ham started to break forward and seemed to be showing the right signs and were asking questions of this United side. Solskjaer will need to make a change or too soon to give United a chance to get something from this match. United made a double substitution in the 73rd minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay replacing Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic. Edinson Cavani then replaced Mason Greenwood. It was a dire second half, worse than the first half. United had five more shots, one of which was on target. They ended the 90 minutes with 64% possession and entered extra time.

At the start of extra time, Solskjaer made another double substitution with Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw replacing Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles. United took the lead with the first goal of the game in the 97th minute of the match. Anthony Martial led the counter before Fred found the ball on the overlap. His lofted cross was deflected away to Marcus Rashford who laid the ball off to Scott McTominay, whose run was almost perfect to the edge of the box, burying his shot inside the near post. It is a shame that it took this long for a goal to be score. Many will praise the Hammers, whose zero shots on target to this point showed how much they wanted to win this match.

Manchester United

26 Dean Henderson

Will be happy with his fifth clean sheet for United in his 11th appearance for the club. He was not really tested and had one shot on target, which he gathered easily. It was good to see him back in the team. Perhaps he will play again this weekend?

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Played well against the Hammers, despite being largely frustrated with the way Moyes' side played the game. He was replaced by Williams just before the start of extra time.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Did what he needed to do defensively. He could have scored the first goal of the match, which was saved by Fabianski. It was not the best game for United but the Hammers defended deep and it was a poor brand of football.

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5 Harry Maguire

The BBC game hit the Man of the Match award. He played well in defence but United were not tested by the Hammers, having one shot on target and that came late in extra time. He led his side well and did what he needed to do, which was good to see. Someone will find something to be unhappy about him though!

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27 Alex Telles

Played well and had a fair few chances in the first half, showing his ability to break forward as well as defend. The Hammers were poor during the entire 90 minutes and did not pressure the Brazilian. He was replaced by Shaw at the start of extra time.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Did well for United and offered something to shield the defence, not that the Hammers had many clear-cut chances to win the game. It seems at times that they were playing for a point, which was never going to happen in a cup match.

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17 Fred

Resurgent in midfield. Kept running and helping his team break forward and ward off the Hammers, who did not have a single shot on target in normal time. Good to see him get more game time and he will surely get more this season.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Showed glimpses of his ability throughout the match but not enough to break down this defensive Hammers side. He will be pleased to have another chance to announce himself this season. He was replaced by Cavani in the 86th minute of the match.

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34 Donny van de Beek

It was good to see him start but to expect much from his was too much. He's hardly played this season and will be rusty, needing a run of matches to find some sort of form. Hopefully, with Pogba on the sidelines for a few weeks, he will get his chance.

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10 Marcus Rashford

I think he needs to start playing a simple game. He is missing the easiest of chances and it is frustrating to watch. He looked to have injured his back at a point, but the initial worries were forgotten as he recovered from the knock. Not the greatest game for the player who made his 250th appearance for the club tonight.

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9 Anthony Martial

Made his 250th appearance for the club tonight, just like Rashford. He played well at times, despite seeing United unable to breakdown this defensive Hammers side, which is an embarrassment to football. Why defend so well in a game that not scoring will see you knocked out.

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Substitutes

18 Bruno Fernandes

Replaced Van de Beek 73'. United needed some inspiration and it did not happen instantly for United. They did get their goal but Fernandes was not the goalscorer.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Matic 73'. Won the game for United with his sublime finish. It was good to see him score his seventh goal of the season for his club. Maybe those who constantly slate him with start to place some respect on his name?

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7 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Greenwood 86'. He's got to be United's best forward at the club this season, but even he could not find a way to find a goal awaits the Hammers, who defended for two hours, which was pointless.

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33 Brandon Williams

Replaced Wan-Bissaka 90'. Came on at the start of extra time, giving Wan-Bissaka a break after a hard-fought 90 minutes. He did what he needed to do and United got the win, which was important.

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23 Luke Shaw

Replaced Telles 90'. Came on at the start of extra time to replace Telles, who played a good game and had a fair few chances. Shaw has been in great form for the past month or so and that continued as United got the goal they needed to win the match.

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Goals: Scott McTominay 97′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 97′

Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 90′), Lindelof, Maguire, Telles (Shaw 90′); Matic (McTominay 73′), Fred; Greenwood (Cavani 86′), Van de Beek (Fernandes 73′), Rashford; Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Tuanzebe; Diallo, James

Bookings: N/A

Written by John Walker

Confirmed XI: Martial, Rashford, Greenwood and Van de Beek start against the Hammers; Diallo on the bench

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup this evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

Manchester United:

Henderson;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles;

Matic, Fred;

Greenwood, Van de Beek, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Grant; Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Fernandes, Diallo, James, McTominay; Cavani

West Ham United:

Fabianski;

Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell;

Soucek, Noble, Rice;

Bowen, Yarmolenko, Fornals

Substitutes:

Trott; Balbuena, Alves, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson; Lanzini; Benrahma, Odubeko

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Written by John Walker

Predicted XI: [4-2-3-1] Cavani, Rashford, Fernandes and Greenwood in attack? Van de Beek and McTominay in midfield? Henderson in goal?

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

How United have faired against West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup.

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…

Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson should start against West Ham United on Tuesday evening. David De Gea’s form is starting to pose similar questions as it did ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea last season. United lost that match because of errors caused by the goalkeeper. Henderson has the talent to succeed at the club and perhaps he should be given the chance, which might help De Gea work in the background to rediscover his form once again. Henderson played twice against the Hammers last season, drawing 1-1, conceding a goal scored by Robert Snodgrass, at the London Stadium, helping his side win 1-0 at Bramall Lane. Henderson is a confident player and has played most of his football in cup competitions this season, so should be involved once again.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United conceded three goals against Everton at the weekend and they will need to keep the Hammers at bay. Earlier this season, David Moyes’ side opened the scoring at the London Stadium with United having to come from behind, which they did, winning the match 3-1. Eric Bailly has a small chance of featuring for United at the moment which means Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw will probably start once again. Wan-Bissaka and Shaw have both performed well of late with the main problems seemingly in the centre of defence. Solving that problem and returning to winning ways is necessary for United to prevail this season. They have as good a chance as any to win the Emirates FA Cup this season.

Midfield: Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek

Paul Pogba looks set to be on the sidelines for an unknown period fo time after suffering from a thigh injury against Everton at the weekend. With this in mind, Solskjaer should probably give Donny van de Beek a chance to start for United, seeing if he can fill the void Pogba will leave after his period of form over the past month or so. Scott McTominay should partner him as he is also in some good form at this stage of the season, scoring his sixth goal of the season against Everton, scoring twice in his last two matches. The midfield is an area that has many talented players to pick. Fred played well against Everton, but on this occasion, he should be on the bench to add something later on in the game, if he is needed.

Attacking Midfield: Mason Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford

Bruno Fernandes scored his 18th goal of the season against Everton at the weekend and it should be a goal of the month contender for February and possibly in the list for potential goals of the season. He really has turned this United team into something to be contended with. He has bags of talent and despite a handful of poor performances, he always seems to find something out of nothing to make things so much better, which was the case for his goal which put United 2-0 up just before half time against the Toffees. Marcus Rashford has bagged 16 goals so far this season but at times his decision-making needs to see some improvement, as well as his finishing. Mason Greenwood played a good game at the weekend and should keep his place in the team.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani is everything that is needed in a Manchester United striker. He knows how to position himself, where to find the goals and his headers into the back of the net are something that has been missing at the club for a few years now. Cavani will turn 34 next Sunday but the form he is in makes his age just a number – nothing more. Anthony Martial bagged two goals against Southampton earlier in the week as United ran riot, winning 9-0 but he was unused against Everton, which might be telling with regards to his overall form this season. Of course, he might start against the Hammers but it seems to be working the way it is for United right now so if it is not broken, why should it be fixed. Martial might be able to come on late in the game to add something.

Substitutes: David De Gea; Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Fred, Amad Diallo, Daniel James; Anthony Martial

Nine substitutes will be able to be named one the bench, the same for the Premier League and the Carabao Cup but in the Emirates FA Cup, up to five substitutions are able to be made in three different periods (not including the half time break) throughout the match. If extra time is needed, a sixth substitution could be used. David De Gea should be on the bench for this match after his form deteriorated against Everton. In defence, Eric Bailly will hopefully be fit to play a part, however small, Alex Telles and Brandon Williams could add to the fullback areas, should a change be needed. In midfield, Juan Mata, Fred and Daniel James could be involved with Amad Diallo on the bench if Solskjaer feels the timing is right. In attack, Anthony Martial should be available as the only attacking player on the bench.

Written by John Walker

Preview: Edinson Cavani to lead United’s attack against West Ham in the Emirates FA Cup? Henderson to start ahead of De Gea?

Manchester United -v- West Ham United

Emirates FA Cup

Old Trafford, Manchester

Tuesday 9 February 2021, KO 19:30 GMT

Referee: Paul Tierney Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis and Ian Hussin

Fourth Official: Lee Mason

VAR: Craig Pawson Assistant VAR: Richard West

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup on Tuesday evening. This will be the thirteenth time that United and the Hammers have been drawn against each other in England’s oldest domestic trophy. Both United and the Hammers are in good form with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United scoring 12 goals in their last two matches and David Moyes’ Hammers coming back from a defeat to Liverpool to beat Aston Villa during the week, which saw loanee Jesse Lingard score a brace to help win the match. A draw with Fulham put them on a similar path to United, who also had a win and a draw in their last two matches. This will be a fight of the fittest and the hungriest team will reach the quarter-final stage.

Lingard is not eligible to face United in the FA Cup as he featured against Watford in the third round of the competition earlier this season, so is cup-tied. If he had not played, he could have featured against United should their have no nothing stated in the contract forbidding that. United will be eager to get back to winning ways after having victory over Everton snatched from their grasp at the death on Saturday evening, which made the 3-3 draw feel like a defeat. Solskjaer will need to work with his players in the days ahead to find the problems and hope that they can be solved before kick off at the Theatre of Dreams on Tuesday evening. United will be seeking to put their semi-final defeat to Chelsea last season behind them and aim to win the cup this season.

Manchester United: DWDLWW

Everton 3-3 D, Southampton 9-0 W, Arsenal 0-0 D, Sheffield United 1-2 L, Liverpool 3-2 W, Fulham 2-1 W

West Ham United: DWLWWW

Fulham 0-0 D, Aston Villa 3-1 W, Liverpool 3-1 L, Crystal Palace 3-2 W, Doncaster Rovers 4-0 W, West Bromwich Albion 2-1 W

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes (18), Marcus Rashford (16), Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial (7) have outscored West Ham United so far this season. The Hammers have scored a total of 45 goals in all competitions. United have scored 75 goals so far this season.

Manchester United Goals: 18 – Bruno Fernandes, 16 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, 6 – Scott McTominay, 4 – Mason Greenwood, Paul Pogba, 3 – Daniel James, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Own Goal, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Donny van de Beek

Over the past six matches, United have won three times, draw twice and lost once. Solskjaer’s side have scored 18 goals, conceding eight and keeping two clean sheets. Twelve of the goals have been scored in the last two matches with United beating Southampton 9-0 and drawing 3-3 with Everton, which saw United go 2-0 up, with Everton coming back to 2-2 in seven second half minutes with United taking the lead once again, only to suffer a draw at the very death of the match. United’s defence needs some improvement and in goal, David De Gea will need to face his demons and find the root cause of his problems with confidence and a lacking ability to go out and grab the ball, rather than welcome the shot, which tends to be a mistake.

West Ham United Goals: 8 – Tomas Soucek, 7 – Sébastien Haller, 5 – Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, 3 – Craig Dawson, Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Angelo Ogbonna, Robert Snodgrass, 1 – Oladapo Afolayan, Felipe Anderson, Fabián Balbuena, Ben Johnson, Manuel Lanzini

Over the past six matches, the Hammers have won four times, draw once and lost once. Moyes’ side have scored 13 goals, conceding seven and keeping two clean sheets. Moyes has the Hammers playing well this season and at the time of writing, the club were fifth in the Premier League, which is a good position for them to be in at this stage of the season. United have beaten the Hammers already this season, winning 3-1 at the London Stadium at the start of December. Tomas Soucek scored the opening goal for this club but Paul Pogba, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford scored to give all three points to United, keeping their away record in the league unbeaten this season.

Team News: Phil Jones and Paul Pogba to miss the Hammers clash with Eric Bailly having a 25% chance of featuring. David Moyes to be without Arthur Masuaku and maybe even Darren Randolph. Tomas Soucek red card might also keep him out of action, unless the club wins their appeal. Jesse Lingard is cup-tied so cannot feature against United.

Phil Jones (knee) and Paul Pogba (thigh) have both been ruled out of the clash with West Ham United in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. Eric Bailly (knock) currently has a 25% chance of featuring against David Moyes’ side. Pogba’s injury looks like a tough one which could see the player on the sidelines for a number of weeks, but there severity of it has not yet been discovered so there remains a chance that he could be out for a lesser period of time. Amad Diallo seems to be enjoying his football at U23 level right now and despite the fact many would like to see him make his debut, him enjoying his football at the level he’s currently playing in might be best for him, unless Solskjaer has plans for him soon, which was intimated.

Tomas Soucek (suspended) is currently set to miss the clash with United at Old Trafford after being sent off by Mike Dean in the 0-0 draw with Fulham on Saturday. The red card seems harsh and Aleksandar Mitrović’s reaction was unsportsmanlike to say the least. The Hammers have appealed the red card, so if it is rescinded, he could feature against United. Arthur Masuaku (knee) has been ruled out of the match and Darren Randolph (knock) is currently being assessed and has a 25% chance of being fit to face United. Jesse Lingard is not eligible to play against United as he is cup-tied in the competition, having already played for United in the 1-0 victory over Watford at the start of January.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to lead the attack against the Hammers; Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay in midfield? Dean Henderson in goal?

Solskjaer will need to look into whether David De Gea has what it takes to lead United into the Emirates FA Cup with a view of making the quarter-finals of the competition this season. Last season, after some poor performances, De Gea cost United in the semi-final against Chelsea with some big glaring errors similar to those against Everton at the weekend. Dean Henderson has played in the cup competitions so far this season, so should be given his chance to feature for United once again. Edinson Cavani is the main striker in this team right now, so should keep his place once again. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood will take the wide places with Bruno Fernandes in behind the striker. Donny van de Beek start with Scott McTominay in midfield.

Match Prediction: United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the Emirates FA Cup with United winning five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored 21 goals, conceding 15.

United and the Hammers have met 12 times in the history of the Emirates FA Cup. United have won five times, drawing three times and losing four times. United have scored a total of 21 goals, conceding 15. United have kept four clean sheets with the Hammers keeping two. United have lost just two of their matches against the Hammers in the FA Cup at Old Trafford – the last time being just over 20 years ago; a 1-0 victory for the Hammers in which Paulo Di Canio scored the only goal of the match. Prior to that, the other defeat at Old Trafford was in 1986 before Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club. Ray Stewart and Geoff Pike scored the goals for the Hammers back then.

United last faced the Hammers in the FA Cup back on the 13 April 2016 at Upton Park in the sixth round replay after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford a month prior. Dimitri Payet scored the opening goal in the draw with Anthony Martial equalising in the 83rd minute. At Upton Park, United won 2-1 with Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini scoring for United and James Tomkins getting a consolation for the Hammers. That season, under the management of Louis van Gaal, United went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton 2-1 at Wembley in the semi-final and then beating Crystal Palace 2-1, after extra time, in the final. It was the first major honour for United after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson three years prior.

Manchester United 3-1 West Ham United

Written by John Walker

Ranked: Every post-Sir Alex Ferguson season ranked from worst to best

On the 8 May 2013, the world of football was sent into a state of shock. Journalist rooms were sent into a state of frenzy and Manchester United fans sent into a saddened mood. Sir Alex Ferguson had announced his retirement. 

Fresh on the back of winning United’s twentieth English league title, his thirteenth, Sir Alex Ferguson would leave United needing a new manager for the first time in 27 years. After keeping his promise of knocking Liverpool off their perch, it would now fall to other managers to lead United into a new period of glory. 

Nearly eight years down the line and Old Trafford has seen four different managers (not including Ryan Giggs as interim manager) and success has been hard to find. Not many of the seasons that have followed that final Sir Alex Ferguson league title can truly be called successful. 

For the first time in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era, United can currently consider themselves in the title race. If they can keep at that current form, then it might go down as the best season since. Let me review each season since David Moyes became the first new United manager since 1986.

7. 2013/14 Season

Ah, poor David Moyes. It just wasn’t meant to be. Much has been made of whether United should have gone in for Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, in order to continue the success that Sir Alex Ferguson brought to the club. In the end the honour fell to fellow Scot, Moyes. Moyes had served a long apprenticeship at Preston and then Everton, the latter leading to many plaudits coming his way. He would leave Everton on the back of finishing in the top eight, eight seasons in a row. In the 2004/05 season, they would finish fourth in the league, however, Liverpool’s win in the Champions League, prevented a well-deserved European campaign. However, failure to win a trophy in that time, runner-up in the FA Cup would be as close as he got, was a slight worry as he made the short journey from Merseyside to Manchester. 

His United tenure started well. A win in the Community Shield and an opening day 4-1 win over Swansea gave United fans optimism that it would be business as usual despite the change. You could argue, however, that would be as good as it got. A home draw against Chelsea followed and then his first Liverpool game would end in defeat. A crushing defeat to City (4-1), would leave him 0-2 in Derby games. A home defeat against West Brom, a West Brom who hadn’t won against United since 1984, left United with their worst start after six games in 24 years. 

Many more of those records would be broken as the season went on and despite a seven-game unbeaten run after that West Brom defeat, inconsistency would plague the rest of the season. Four wins in a row just before the turn of year led to hopes they had turned the corner, but the rest of the season would be a tough watch. A penalty shootout defeat to Sunderland denied United a League Cup final and 3-0 home defeats to both Liverpool and Manchester City left Moyes on the brink. Hope of a shock win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League was quickly extinguished and despite back to back wins scoring four goals in both games, defeat away, cruelly ironically, to his former club Everton meant David Moyes would fail to see at his first season at the club. Ryan Giggs took the final four games and would blood in a few youngsters, a bright spark being James Wilson scoring twice on his debut. 

Moyes ripped up the backroom staff that had sent many years under Sir Alex Ferguson and knew the ins and outs of the club. In hindsight, it was a bad move, but you can’t blame him too much to want to stamp his on authority at a club where one manager had led for so long. Many would point to the squad not being the best it could have been when Sir Alex Ferguson left and that United failed to get in the player’s he wanted to boost the squad. Of course, it was also a first season for new executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward. Criticism over transfer dealings continue to this day but bringing in only Marouane Fellaini did not help the cause. Juan Mata signed in the new year, but it wasn’t enough to save Moyes from the chop and give United their worst season since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club. The emergence of Adnan Januzaj could not even paper over this shocking season. 

6. 2018/19 Season

What an odd season. Finishing second the season before, hopes of Jose Mourinho being able to bridge the 19-point gap between United and winners City, were high. That would be the only thing that would be high. Performance levels were low. League positions were low. Confidence was extremely low. A 3-1 defeat to Liverpool left United sixth with just seven wins in 17 games. Dressing room discontent, a toxic environment and a manager who felt he wasn’t backed was not tenable and Mourinho would leave before Christmas. 

Enter Ole Gunner Solskjaer. United legend. Scorer of the 1999 European Cup winner in THAT game against Bayern Munich. Everything he touched turned to gold. 10 wins in 12 games league games (the other two draws) including FA Cup wins over Arsenal and Chelsea, moved United into fourth place as they travelled to Paris for the second leg of the last 16 Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain. United had lost the first leg 2-0, the only defeat in the interim period. Incredibly a last-minute Marcus Rashford penalty sent United into the quarter-final despite being injury ravaged, missing 10 first team players, with Tahith Chong and Mason Greenwood finishing the game on the pitch as United chased a winner. 

The clamour for Solskjaer to be handed the job permanently became too much for the United top brass to ignore and the confirmation was announced soon after. In almost a complete reverse of his first 17 games, the next 12 games would yield just two wins. Numerous opportunities to secure fourth place came and went, and even victories over already relegated Huddersfield and Cardiff in the final two games of the season, would have led to Champions League football again. As we all know, two shocking performances would follow. United would finish sixth, incidentally the same position United were in when Mourinho was sacked. Worries were starting to circulate that Solskjaer was the wrong man for the job and the club were too hasty in his appointment. Solskjaer believed that the tough training that he had to put his players through, due to the low level of fitness that he found when he joined, meant the players ran out of the steam at the end of the season. Whatever the reasons, the season was plain bad. 

5. 2014/15 Season

As a sign of how quickly expectations had fallen since the horror show of David Moyes’ failed season at the club, United were keen to bring in an experienced winner who could get them back into the top four. Many fans wanted to see Giggs get his chance after his interim period but just before the 2014 World Cup, Louis van Gaal, then manager of the Netherlands, was announced as manager. United fans sat back to watch how the Netherlands would play in Brazil. To everyone’s delight, it was very good. In fact, it was better then very good. They made it to the semi-finals, playing some excellent football and Van Gaal seemed to know exactly how to get the best out of Robin van Persie, who wasn’t at his very best during the season before. One of the highlights that lived long in the memory of Van Persie’s diving header and his run to celebrate with his manager. The dream team that United hoped would fire them back to glory was on. 

Then Van Gaal would oversee six wins from six in pre-season, including wins over Inter, Real Madrid and Liverpool. Instead of praying for the top four, United fans were dreaming a lot bigger. The signings needed to bolster a weak looking squad came thick and fast. Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria, Marcus Rojo and Daley Blind all came in and yet the bubble quickly burst. Swansea would again be the opening day fixture, however, this time it was at home and it ended in defeat. United fans were understandably aghast. ‘Even Moyes beat Swansea’ was probably heard in every home of every United fan. Drab draws against Sunderland and then Burnley didn’t do much to allay early fears and when they lost to Leicester City, they had one win in five and were sitting twelfth. Throw in the League Cup humiliation, losing 4-0 to League One MK Dons, and United fans were wondering what had happened to their side in such a short period of time. 

There were bright moments in the season. A league double over Liverpool is always celebrated as is putting four goals past Manchester City. They would only lose two league games between the 8 November and the 18 April. By then they were comfortably in the Champions League spots, but one win in the last six left a sour taste in the mouths and dampened spirits a little going into the summer break. However, being back in the Champions League will have been the minimum target when appointing the Dutchmen and it couldn’t be any worse than the debacle the season before. 

4. 2015/16 Season

It is interesting to hear what is considered a successful season. Fans will likely deliberate this for the rest of time. It could probably be called the Arsenal conundrum. Arsene Wenger’s last few seasons at Arsenal would see them quality for the Champions League and that would be a success. If they could win a cup, then that would be the added bonus. However, many fans believe that the league is more important than the cup. That aiming for fourth place is not good enough. Your write has always tended to agree with that; however, I will probably contradict myself in this remaining article and that starts here. This season would see United lift their first piece of silverware in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era. (sorry Mourinho, the Community Shield doesn’t count). If there was ever a season that constituted as ‘one step forward, two steps back’ it was this one. More signings were made. Memphis Depay was exciting. Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin and serial winner Bastian Schweinsteiger bolstered the squad and the arrival of unheralded 18-year old Anthony Martial caught everyone off guard. 

In the league United would not win more than three games in a row but would complete another league double over Liverpool. The home win would see the arrival Martial, with that stunning solo goal and his form would continue to be the brightest of sparks throughout the season, finishing United’s top goal scorer. However, Liverpool would knock them out of the Europa League as United exited their return to the Champions League at the Group Stage. A group stage that should have been easy to advance from. 

Whilst the signing of Martial paid off, the Depay arrival hadn’t gone as well, and Van Gaal remained under pressure throughout the season. Losing to West Ham in their final game at Upton Park, handed the initiative to rivals City in the race for fourth place and with the goal difference being so far in City’s advantage, there win on the final game of the season consigned United to another spell in the Europa League. Heading into the FA Cup final, the impression was that if United won, Van Gaal would get another year. They did win. An extra-time win over Crystal Palace, however, Van Gaal didn’t get another year. Even worse, he was sacked immediately after the cup win. It is something that Van Gaal hasn’t let go to this day, however the football that season was poor. At points the fans were booing when United passed back to David De Gea in goal. Just 49 goals were scorer in the league, and it was clear that Van Gaal was no longer the right fit. The FA Cup though did make it a slightly better season then his first, by virtue of it being United’s first silverware for three years. 

3. 2019/20 Season

The last three seasons is where my contradiction kicks in. Last season was another strange season for United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was entering the season on the back of those shocking performances against Cardiff and Huddersfield. The defence that had been so poor the season before, was bolstered by the signings of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The season started so well. A 4-0 win over Chelsea with Maguire winning Man of the Match signalling hope that United were finally on the right track. As has been so often, it was a false dawn. United would only win one of their next eight games leaving them down in 14th place. After draws to newly promoted sides, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, Solskjaer was seemingly on the brink. Back to back wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City gave eased the pressure once more, pressure that would be back just a month after. Four defeats in the next eight games, culminating in defeat to Burnley at Old Trafford, looked the end for Solskjaer. Enter Bruno Fernandes. 

One signing transformed the side. Despite drawing with Wolves in his first game, a result that left them in seventh place, United would go undefeated for the rest of the season, either side of the break for the pandemic. They would end up finishing third, hugely important after failing the season in their quest for Champions League football. The 14 games unbeaten should have given reason for optimism heading into the new season, but failings in the semi-finals of all cups they were involved in left a sour taste in some fan’s mouths. The last being the Europa League, played over one leg because of the aforementioned pandemic, that they were expected to win. However, they looked tired as the season ended and the defeat to Sevilla meant the wait for Solskjaer first trophy would head into the next season. 

Some will argue that this season isn’t much different to this season and Van Gaal’s fourth place season. Both secured Champions League football, but when you factor in the three semi-finals and second half of season form, then it warrants it’s place high on the list. 

2. 2016/17 Season

The final two seasons are where the contradictions can get tricky. Jose Mourinho was a problem that the United board didn’t know how to solve. The born winner in Mourinho came out this season. In his first season he was backed. Paul Pogba returned to the club. A centre back, Eric Bailly, was signed. He was needed. Henrikh Mkhitaryan signed from Dortmund and of course Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined on a free transfer. Big statement signings. Big statement signings that saw three wins in a row to start the season. Excitement started building. Whilst Mourinho had been sacked from Chelsea, he was still seen a winner who would bring success to any club he took over. As seems to be the trend when the excitement levels build, United would win just one of their next six games, losing three. United wouldn’t lose again in the league until May. So United were surely in the title hunt? No defeat in six months? They must have been. Unfortunately, not. United could not win games. They would draw 15 times. Many against teams they should have beaten, including Stoke (twice), Burnley, Hull, West Brom and Swansea. United would finish sixth. Worse than both seasons under Van Gaal. They were in the hunt for the Champions League, but just one win in their final six games laid rest to that. 

Mourinho didn’t care though. He had the back up of the Europa League. United had already won the League Cup, three wins in a row now at Wembley, including the Community Shield (sorry Mourinho, still not a trophy). However, the Europa League was a big trophy now that it was his only route into the Champions League. Of course, his United side would win. Mourinho would run onto the pitch waving three fingers, in reference to his three trophies (yes, he included the Community Shield). 

This season, in league terms, wasn’t great. However, it was a return to the Champions League and a return to multiple trophy wins, and many believed that with this success, United could go on to bigger and better things, after all, Mourinho always wins the league after two seasons in charge.

1. 2017/18 Season

Alas, he wouldn’t win the title. He wouldn’t even win a trophy. So how does this rank as the best season you may ask? 

Well Mourinho himself called finishing second, with the squad he had, his best achievement. Things started to sour a little. Ibrahimovic was still out injured with the serious knee injury he had sustained in the season prior, so Romelu Lukaku was brought in for £74 million. Lindelof was also brought in, in hope that he would form a title winning partnership with Eric Bailly, who had been so impressive in his debut season. Many saw Nemanja Matic as the final piece of Mourinho’s puzzle, when Chelsea let him go. In reality, despite finishing second, United never really got close to Manchester City. The signing of Alexis Sanchez at Christmas, designed to put United in position to challenge the season after, will live long in the memory of all United fans. And not for positive reasons. He was a disaster for the rest of the season and for the rest of his United career. Losing in the final of the FA Cup, led some to think that Mourinho should go the same way as Van Gaal. The football wasn’t much better, and Van Gaal only had one trophy less than Mourinho when you match up their seasons. Of course, you’re not going to sack a manager after a second-place finish.  

The league should always be a priority. This is the season that United finished closest to top spot. For United fans it is a sad reality, however, it is the best season that United have had. The current United side have a chance to leapfrog all of these seasons and for United fans, the thought of title number 21 lingers on their mind almost every day. 

Written by Huw Rawlings

copyright: JW