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Match Preview: Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Manchester United host West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday. Here's the lowdown.

Michael Cooper/Getty Images

Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford on Saturday, with Louis van Gaal's men looking to end their run of consecutive draws and go back to the top of the Premier League table. For as shockingly dull as United have been for the majority of the season, they head into this match only a point adrift of both Manchester City and Leicester.

It's also quite a good time to play West Ham. Slaven Bilić made a wonderful start to life as a Premier League manager, though they've not won a game since a 2-1 victory at home to Chelsea in October. Their away record is generally pretty poor, and they've only won on the road against Crystal Palace since September. They're a talented team, and a considerably more entertaining one than United, but we can still rightly expect a victory.

Team news

The latest addition to United's injury list is Marcos Rojo, who has apparently suffered a "serious" shoulder injury. That means we're likely to see a defence unchanged from last weekend's draw with Leicester, with Daley Blind, Chris Smalling and Paddy McNair forming a back three. Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones are all doubtful.

West Ham have been grappling with some serious problems on the attacking front, with strikers Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho, and star playmaker Dimitri Payet all currently sidelined. Youngster Reece Oxford could also miss out. That should mean they too won't make any changes, with Manuel Lanzini set to start just off main centre-forward Andy Carroll.


Bilić has undoubtedly created a West Ham team in his own image, with this current Hammers side mysteriously alluring. They play direct football, but don't take that to mean an ugly Tony Pulis-esque approach. They're much more attack-minded than that, though look to draw their opponents onto them before transitioning from defence to attack as quickly as possible. They're a nasty team to play against, and will look to pepper David de Gea with shots at every opportunity.

Of course, United will have to be wary of the aerial threat posed by Andy Carroll on any crosses delivered into the box. But he's certainly not their only dangerman. Indeed, only the injured Dimitri Payet has scored more goals for the Hammers than 22-year-old Argentine Manuel Lanzini, whose wiry, schoolboy frame is rather deceptive. Meanwhile, Victor Moses and Mauro Zárate are both wingers with an eye for goal, and will look to take advantage of any space either side of United's back three.

United could find attacking joy out in the wide areas, with full-backs Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson both better attackers than defenders. However, unless van Gaal makes a surprise reversion to a back four for this match, it's hard to see the Reds making the most of this Achilles' heel. Instead we'll likely have to watch Wayne Rooney clogging things up in the middle of the pitch, clumsily trying to break down West Ham's defence like an artist attempting to recreate the Mona Lisa with a paint roller.

Predicted lineups

Manchester United (3-5-2): David de Gea; Daley Blind, Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair; Ashley Young, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Mata, Matteo Darmian; Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial.

West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Adrián; Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Carl Jenkinson; Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyaté; Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini, Mauro Zárate; Andy Carroll.