Everything that you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s match:
(1) The unbeaten streak is over. In Sunday’s 3-1 FA Cup semifinal defeat, Chelsea took full advantage of Manchester United’s lack of rotation in recent weeks. Even with five changes, the Reds could not match their opponent’s energy. United looked leggy against Crystal Palace on Thursday and followed it up with an even more fatigued display at Wembley. (The extra 48 hours of rest for Chelsea didn’t hurt, either.)
(2) Even though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did his best to freshen up the side, it was such a physical game that Manchester United nevertheless left Wembley black and blue. Bruno Fernandes, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Mason Greenwood, and Anthony Martial all got banged up — although only Bailly had to be removed. After his second head injury in quick succession, the 26-year-old Ivorian left on a stretcher and went to straight to the hospital. He has since been released and seems to have escaped serious injury.
(3) The other relevant storyline from Sunday’s loss: the continuing struggles of David De Gea. The Spanish goalkeeper made a mess of Chelsea’s second goal and surely feels he should have done better on the first one, too. Everyone knows what DDG has meant to the club over the past decade, but this Champions League race might hinge on a single point (or even GD). Another display like Sunday’s could be fatal to the club’s top-four chances — and De Gea’s hold on the No. 1 spot.
Honestly, it really is sad how much David de Gea has declined in recent years. A couple of seasons ago, you’d be shocked if he made a mistake, but nowadays it’s happening on a regular basis. The club have a massive decision to make this summer regarding the No.1 spot at Utd. pic.twitter.com/U46n6a2OD2— Ryan. (@Vintage_Utd) July 20, 2020
(4) Nemanja Matic spoke to MUTV about the week ahead:
Our focus is on Wednesday against West Ham. We have to win that game to be in the Champions League. From this moment, we will focus on that and we spoke a bit in the changing room about that. In three days, we have another challenge and we have to recover as soon as possible.
(5) On Sunday, José Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur did Manchester United a massive favor with their 3-0 win over Leicester City. That result leaves Leicester even on points with the Reds, meaning that United can move into the top four with any points against West Ham. Plus, the lopsided Spurs win erased Leicester’s GD advantage.
Tottenham crush Leicester 3-0.— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 19, 2020
Jose does United a favour in the Champions League race pic.twitter.com/Q3Ze15w7zM
(6) West Ham last played on Friday, defeating Watford 3-1 behind first-half goals from Michail Antonio, Tomas Soucek, and Declan Rice. Those three points might just be enough for Premier League survival. The Hammers are six points (and a lot of GD) above Aston Villa in 18th. With only two matches left, they should be safe.
(7) The Watford win is the latest positive result in a superb month for West Ham. David Moyes’s side has only lost once in five July matches, racking up ten points over that span to ward off the clutches of relegation.
(8) Surprisingly — considering their manager — West Ham have turned it around with a fairly potent attack. The Hammers have scored 12 goals in July, scoring three goals or more in a match three times. Michail Antonio and Sebastien Haller are proven commodities, but Moyes has also coaxed winning performances out of January signing Jarrod Bowen and loanee Tomas Soucek.
(9) David Moyes deserves a lot of credit. The former Manchester United manager joined West Ham in late December, with the club just one point above the relegation zone. Now, with safety all but guaranteed, he can begin planning for a mid-table push in 2020/21. Helping his chances, Moyes seems to have the backing of his players — including a very good relationship with budding star Declan Rice.
(10) Moyes on the Manchester United match:
The big thing for me now is that we get ourselves recovered. We know the job — we’ve got a really tough game going to Old Trafford, but why not go and have a game and see if we can challenge them? There’s no celebration now. Even if there were, I’m not going to celebrate staying up. The position we’ve been in for long parts of the season might not have looked so good, but we’re very close to safety now.
(11) Crossing my fingers that this doesn’t happen...
If the following results happen, both Man Utd and Leicester will have identical points, identical goal difference, identical goals scored AND the same head-to-head record:— Goal (@goal) July 19, 2020
Man Utd 5-3 West Ham
Leicester 1-0 Man Utd
If that happened, a play-off would be needed to decide 4th! pic.twitter.com/7712gFthS1