The Big Match Preview: Manchester United vs West Ham United

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Saturday 5th December – 15:00 – Old Trafford

West Ham United will be aiming to make Premier League history tomorrow when they visit Old Trafford. No team has ever won at Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United in the same Premier League season, but the Hammers are three quarters of the way there. Wins against those first three times saw Slaven Bilic’s side start the season very well, but they have dropped off slightly of late, having not won since beating Chelsea at the end of October. United meanwhile, have not lost since the start of October, and sit in third place just one point behind league leaders City. Despite this, their playing style has faced some criticism, with Wayne Rooney in particular coming under fire. The Red Devils will be hoping to create a more positive atmosphere in the home section of the crowd on Saturday afternoon, especially with a crucial Champions League encounter with Wolfsburg coming up next week.

Team News

Manchester United

  • The Red Devils are without striker Wayne Rooney because of an ankle injury, while Marcos Rojo is out with a dislocated shoulder.
  • Jesse Lingard returns after a minor hamstring problem, but Ander Herrera (hamstring) and Phil Jones (ankle) remain unavailable after picking up injuries against Watford a fortnight ago.
  • The hosts’ long term absentees are Luke Shaw (leg) and Antonio Valencia (foot).

West Ham United

  • Striker Diafra Sakho (thigh) will be sidelined for three months and is set to be replaced by Andy Carroll.
  • Sakho joins Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia (both ankle) on the sidelines, but skipper Mark Noble and defender James Collins are available after completing suspensions.
  • Mauro Zarate’s goal against West Brom is set to cement his starting spot alongside Manuel Lanzini and Victor Moses in the three attacking midfield positions in Bilic’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system.

The Key Battle: Chris Smalling vs Andy Carroll

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Manchester United have the best defence in the Premier League this season, conceding just 10 goals and keeping clean sheets in five successive home games in league and cup.

Chris Smalling has had a huge part to play in that, starting all the league games and proving to be a rock at the back in a superb season. The 26 year old’s performances have even earned him a nomination for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for November – no easy feat for a defender.

He should be prepared for lots of aerial battles with Andy Carroll tomorrow though, with West Ham likely to try and find the 6ft 4in target man as often as possible.

Carroll has struggled with injuries over the last couple of seasons, and has scored one goal in three starts so far this campaign – the winner against Chelsea in The Hammers’ most recent league victory at the end of October.

Previous Meetings

Manchester United wins = 61/ West Ham United wins = 42 / Draws = 27

*According to http://www.11v11.com

Last Meeting: West Ham United 1-1 Manchester United (8th February 2015)

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Daley Blind rescued a point for Manchester United with a 93rd-minute equaliser after Cheikhou Kouyate’s sublime volley put West Ham ahead. Kouyate juggled the ball twice, swivelled, and volleyed in, after Mark Noble’s free-kick dropped in his path. United looked to be running out of time when Blind volleyed home from 16 yards after Angel Di Maria’s cross. The visitors finished with 10 men, as defender Luke Shaw was sent off for a second yellow card. [BBC]

Managers Quotes

Louis van Gaal: “He [Slaven Bilic] always has them well organised and he plays always more or less from out of the defensive organisation. So they will be difficult to beat and they have proved that already because they have won more games away than at home and also against top teams.”

Slaven Bilic: “I don’t find [Manchester United] boring – they are hard to beat. I watch them a lot and every game they have more chances and more ball possession than the opponent, and in every game the opponent has only one or two chances. They’re different from the Alex Ferguson era where they were quicker, more electric, and bombarding the box. They are winning and not conceding goals.”

The Referee – Mark Clattenburg

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/HARRY ENGELS
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/HARRY ENGELS
  • Last Premier League game: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Arsenal (21st November 2015) – 5 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Manchester United game: Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City (25th October 2015) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last West Ham United game: Crystal Palace 1-3 West Ham United (17th October 2015) – 5 yellow cards, 1 red card

Stat of the Match

West Ham  have scored 10 goals in 19 Premier League games at Old Trafford and never more than one in a single game, but have scored in all but one of their Premier League games this term, a record bettered only by Leicester.

Where can I Watch it?

As the game kicks off at 3pm, there is no UK TV channel that is showing the game live. There should be however, streams on the internet, whilst if you want to go for the safer options, there’s live commentary of the match on BBC Radio 5 Live or the highlights will be on BBC One’s Match of the Day which is on Saturday evening at 10:25pm.

My Prediction: Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United

CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

With both of these sides lacking creativity in the attacking third of the pitch at the moment, I expect this game to be a close affair. However, I do think that Manchester United will win it 1-0, with the solitary goal coming from Anthony Martial. I do think though that if the likes of Payet and Sakho were fit for the Hammers, it would have been a different story.

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