Manchester United vs West Ham United Preview

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Image from Man Utd Fan Blog
The Premier League returns for Manchester United after a ten day break as United host West Ham United on Saturday evening. Here's everything you need to know:

Teams: Manchester United vs West Ham United
Location: Old Trafford
KO: 13th April 17:30 GMT (Live on BT Sport)
Managers: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini
Referee: Graham Scott

How do both teams go into this game?
Manchester United may have had some poor performances recently with two defeats to Wolves, a toothless loss at the Emirates and a narrow and undeserved win at home to Watford. But, their 1-0 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday was the most promising of United's last five games, as United were truly the better side on the night. Scott McTominay, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Fred were the star performers against the Catalan giants and while United were relatively poor in the final third, they dominated Barcleona for the majority of the game everywhere else. United may have poor form of late but hopefully the performance on Wednesday sparks something in this difficult run of fixtures. 

West Ham United have been very erratic lately and cannot build any momentum from their victories. For example, they beat Newcastle 2-0 at home and lost to Cardiff away the next week, then came from 3-1 down to beat Huddersfield 4-3 and then lost to Everton (H) and Chelsea (A) 2-0. Their season is really over after losing to Wimbledon in the FA Cup and with four of their five remaining  games against teams above them (Man United, Leicesterm, Spurs and Watford) it will be difficult for them to progress further up the table.

How have these teams fared against each other recently?
Earlier in the season West Ham punished a sorry United side 3-1 at the London Stadium with a terrific (but offside) opener from Felipe Anderson, a Victor Lindelof own-goal and after a stunning flick from Marcus Rashford, an emphatic finish from Marko Arnautovic sealed the win for the Hammers. Last season however, United smashed West Ham at home in the first game of the season with a debut brace from Romelu Lukaku, a composed finish from Anthony Martial and a sumptuous strike from Paul Pogba to send United top of the table on day one. In the reverse fixture last season, a goalless draw granted David de Gea his Golden Glove award with his 18th clean sheet of the season in a heated game which ended the game on a sour note. 

Team News:
Manchester United will be without Luke Shaw and (thank god) Ashley Young, after Shaw received his tenth yellow card of the league campaign against Wolves and Young was sent off with 30 minutes to play. It seems likely that Diogo Dalot will play right back and Marcos Rojo will play left back as he did against West Brom U23's. Alexis Sanchez is back in training but not 100% ready Solskjaer claims and the Chilean will more likely be ready for the trip to the Nou Camp rather than this game. Matteo Darmian is back from injury but club-captain Antonio Valencia looks set to miss the rest of the season in what looks to be his last in the United red. Eric Bailly, Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic are all out and so the centre-back and midfield choices may remain the same. 
West Ham look set to be without Carlos Sanchez, Andy Carroll and Andriy Yarmolenko with long-term injuries. Carroll has been unfortunately sidelined for another long period after reluctantly agreeing to an operation on his ankle. Samir Nasri is also a doubt after sustaining a calf injury recently and although Jack Wilshere is back in training and has an U23 game under his belt, I doubt he will be risked against United and may be set to return against Leicester next weekend. 

Other Interesting Stats:
  • Manchester United haven't lost at home to West Ham United in 13 games in all competitions (W10 D3) with their last loss coming in May 2007 - Carlos Tevez winner that saved West Ham from relegation.
  • Anthony Martial has six goals against West Ham since joining United in 2015, four of which have come at Old Trafford
  • Romelu Lukaku has only failed to score against West Ham in two of his last twelve appearances and has eleven goals to his name against the Hammers
  • Referee Graham Scott will be in charge of a Manchester United game for the first time this season in his fiftieth Premier League appearance with his last game for United coming against Bournemouth in a 2-0 win at Dean Court. He has refereed three West Ham games this season, their losses to Arsenal and (more recently) Cardiff and the reverse fixture against the Welsh side in which West Ham won 3-1
  • Felipe Anderson has played in all but one of West Ham's league games, no other outfield player has played more league games for the Hammers than the Brazilian this season
  • Manchester United have scored 61 goals this season, the fourth highest in the league but have conceded a joint eleventh highest number of goals with 43 goals conceded level with Crystal Palace (12th place) and Newcastle (15th place)
  • While Manchester United may have struggled to keep a clean sheet this season, West Ham have a meagre five clean sheets - only Fulham have fewer (2)
Team Selection and Prediction
McTominay was easily the best player on the pitch against Barcelona and should remain in the squad, alongside Paul Pogba who wasn't at his best against Barcelona but should dominate in midfield against West Ham. Fred is a puzzling one, he was excellent against Barcelona and PSG but awful against Wolves and Palace. I still don't think he's ready for the aggression and strength of the Premier League and so Pereira should come into the midfield three or perhaps change to a 4-2-3-1 to include both Mata and Lingard. I reckon Pereira should get his chance in a midfield three as the anchor this time. Solskjaer said there may be changes to the team and perhaps that means the front three who were not good enough against Barcelona. Rashford needs a rest, he looks out of ideas and is lacking  composure and clinicalism. Lukaku needs to stay in the side, it is all well and good having pacy players but when you put crosses into the box for a target man, you need a target man! Lukaku offers strength, power and a bit of pace on the side and has an excellent record against West Ham so keep him at no.9. Anthony Martial was unlucky not to score against Barcelona and would have if not for the excellence of Gerard Pique, if he starts as a left forward, Lukaku on the right hand side and Lingard or Mata as a no.10, United will have enoguh pace, energy, composure and strength to rip West Ham apart. 

Predicted Lineup:
De Gea, Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Rojo, Pereira, McTominay, Pogba (c), Lingard, Martial, Lukaku

PREDICTED SCORE: 4-0 to United


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