Manchester United 1-1 West Ham United. Another worrying display from the Red Devils after a disappointing loss on Sunday, but they earned a point that takes them to 3rd (with Chelsea vs. Liverpool not yet played), and gives them a top 4 spot going into the final weekend of the season.
Manchester United applied pressure early and often, quickly forcing West Ham back into their own goal area, and in just the 2nd minute Anthony Martial had a decent look at goal from a tough angle. Mason Greenwood, who became the youngest player since Ryan Giggs to reach 50 senior appearances for the club, followed up with another attempt a minute later, but it was a fairly simple shot to reach for Fabianski.
Bruno Fernandes, who struggled to stay involved in a more forward role against Chelsea, was back to his influential best early. Rashford even found him with a beautiful cross in front of goal, but a poor first touch let him down and lost a good chance to open the scoring. Rashford had a few positive moments early in the first half, as did Martial. The two were by far the most positive performers against Southampton and Crystal Palace last week, and only a couple stray touches prevented them from getting United a goal before the first cooling break. All the possession, but no real test of Fabianski.
After the drinks, West Ham came out with much more control in their game. They threatened a couple times around the half hour mark, and tried to take advantage of United’s poor recent form defending aerial balls. Rashford launched a decent shot from range, likely frustrated by his side’s inability to break through on goal, and forced a decent save from Fabianski. Brandon Williams created a nice opportunity as well, cutting it back at the touch line and sending it in towards Greenwood, but Angelo Ogbonna got a block in at the last second.
Michaill Antonio, in good form in recent matches, forced a dangerous chance that De Gea saved, and was brought down by Timothy Fosu-Mensah a couple minutes later to give Anthony Cresswell a free kick in a decent position. It was laid off for Declan Rice, who hammered in a shot that Pogba blocked with his hands inside the area. Penalty. Antonio calmly converted, giving West Ham a 1-0 lead just before half time.
United came out in the second half again getting the better of possession, but again failing to create meaningful chances from build up. However, Aaron Wan-Bissaka came on for Fosu-Mensah, providing a more talented player on the right wing in both attack and defense, a positive move by Solskjaer that was immediately noticeable. United beginning to settle down and create better chances.
In a great moment for both Mason Greenwood and members of The Busby Babe Podcast group text, the 18 year old converted his 17th goal of the season to bring United level in the 51st minute. 1-1. It was what United needed on the scoresheet and for their confidence. They settled in well, Pogba and Bruno started running the show in midfield, and they were cutting off West Ham’s few looks to go forward. Wan-Bissaka was a key part of this, and probably should have started in the first place. De Gea was forced to save a deflected shot by Jared Bowen, but didn’t look too uncomfortable and nothing came from the resulting corner as well.
West Ham started getting some more decent looks at goal, and perhaps the second drinks break came at a good time for Manchester United. Both teams only needed a draw to get into the positions they desired in the league table, but still a very worrying position for United to be in playing such inconsistent football against a poor opponent.
Going into the final 10 minutes the sloppiness continued, and in addition to turnovers United started giving away set pieces in their own half again. Bruno was given a yellow for arguing a free kick decision, which led to some more dangerous possession for the Hammers. In an attempt to add a goal threat, Odion Ighalo was brought on by Solskjaer in the 84th minute, replacing Rashford, who had struggled in the second half. The Nigerian no. 9 nearly netted with his first touch, but sent it just wide.
The game would finish 1-1. It was a pretty poor performance from United, but the point was enough to get a top 4 spot going into the penultimate, season-deciding match against Leicester City on Sunday. With Chelsea still to play later today, United are currently 3rd, but are by no means guaranteed a Champions League spot.