United bathed in the glory of a four nil win at home to QPR; bathing in the glory of certain redemption following a torrid start to the season. Now, they must accomplish second redemption after shipping five, and one man, at the King Power Stadium against Leicester last Sunday.
“They’ll be really fired up to make sure that they try and perform like they did against QPR and beat us. I’m thinking a backlash.”
Sam Allardyce fears that West Ham will be the unlucky victims of Manchester United’s lethal backlash. With Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao and Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata all available for selection he has reason to worry.
Yet when it comes to defence he can expect to ease past a side who has already conceded 8 in the league and a further four in the league cup against sides of a lower or similar standard to Sam Allardyce’s Hammers.
REFEREE: Lee Mason
“We have nine injuries and one suspension with Blackett,” – Louis van Gaal
The defence which has fallen short of expectations is no longer available though, every single one of them has an injury keeping them out of Saturday’s game.
Louis van Gaal confirmed in his press conference on Thursday that Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were all out while Tyler Blackett is suspended following his red card against Leicester City last weekend.
“Evans’ bone is bruised. Smalling left yesterday’s session because he had stiff legs. I won’t take risks with players.” he said. Phil Jones is set to return to action against Everton on October 5th.
United have four players returning for the North-West derby at Old Trafford against Everton in early October. Midfield duo Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini will both be fit for selection then but remain unavailable for tomorrow’s home match. Chris Smalling should also come back from his hip/thigh on said date, accompanying Phil Jones. Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young are the two other first team players on the injury list. That list now totals up to seven players, and including Tyler Blackett’s suspension, eight meaning only Aston Villa and Newcastle United have more players out.
West Ham aren’t among the lucky few with just 1 or 2 injuries, they have 5 of their own problematic injuries with Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis both out as well as club record signing Andy Carroll. Joey O’Brien has a knee injury while Cheikhou Kouyate is out till November.
With so many injuries totting up on the table, van Gaal has been forced to turn to his youth system even further than expected.
“All three of my right-sided centre-halves are out, so I’ll have to go to the youth system.”
The Dutchman is renowned for his use of younger players after his remarkable European Cup win with Ajax two decades ago and has already used Tyler Blackett, Reece James, James Wilson and more academy players. Now, with all three right sided defenders injured, the younger players have a chance to step up.
Van Gaal has three options to play as a right-sided centre back after ruling out Daley Blind playing in such role.
Tom Thorpe, U-21 captain, has yet to play a first team game is in the first team squad this weekend and seems the most likely candidate after a dominating season of last.
Paddy McNair is a regular when it comes to centre-back crisis’. He was signed by United three years ago from Northern Ireland but was moved to centre-back when the U-21 side had their own injury crisis. He’s a fast, powerful mover with the ball and could feature in a role similar to Yaya Toure, but in defence.
Darren Fletcher is a more household name than Thorpe or McNair and the United vice-captain could prove key after being shunted out of midfield with the arrivals of Ander Herrera, Daley Blind and Angel di Maria. He’s been moved back to defence by both David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson and could be classed as comfortable in the position.
Aside from the defensive problems, we’re likely to see the same attacking line-up as against Leicester. Di Maria, Blind and Herrera in a midfield three with Wayne Rooney selected over Juan Mata in attacking midfield and Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao upfront. Van Persie’s form has been questionable of late and he could be replaced by Rooney with Mata slotting in behind the two strikers but so far van Gaal has seemed inclined to give him time.
West Ham have had some key outstanding players so far this season with Eder Valencia and Alex Song shining out in particular. They should line-up in a similar formation to Manchester United in a 4-1-3-2 and with similar personnel to their superb 3-1 victory over Liverpool aside from taking out Kouyate due to his groin injury.
While Sam Allardyce is wary of the situation at Old Trafford, Mark Noble has been taunting Louis van Gaal’s side, labeling them as a team with chinks in their armour.
“Whereas as in previous years we have had to ‘park the bus’ due to their quality, we are going up there now with a good chance of getting something out of the game,” Noble wrote in West Ham’s official blog.
“The club, the staff and certainly the players are looking forward to it.
“Don’t get me wrong, they are still a fantastic team with world class players and we are certainly not going to underestimate them. Coming back from that incredible 5-3 game with Leicester they will be hurting and looking to bounce back.
“Having said that we know they’ve got some chinks in their armour and we’ll be looking to exploit them come Saturday. We are in good form, we’ve got good players and we’re feeling confident.
“We’ll take that onto the pitch at Old Trafford and hopefully come away with a positive result.”
Allardyce is set to issue a warning of carelessness to his West Ham side, saying that although the situation is a weaker one the United side will be hurting and looking to punish the Hammers.
“They will be hurting and they know the only way they can put that right is to get out on to the field and punish us for it.
“We will have to be careful about that.
“A draw would be great for me, anything more than a draw would be outstanding as far as I’m concerned.
“My players have got to look forward to a tough game at Old Trafford now and test their skills and test their ability at a stadium that can obviously be daunting for some players.”
After last weekend’s 3-1 lead was thrown away in the last 30 minutes, United captain Wayne Rooney remained confident of United’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League this season; “When I look around our dressing room and see the quality we have and the manager’s unbelievable attention to detail I have no doubts this team will be successful.”
Manchester United have taken a huge 31 points from their last 11 Premier League games against West Ham, that’s an average of 2.8 per match.
The Hammers have won just two matches in their last 21 visits to Old Trafford in the top flight – and all the other matches were defeats.
West Ham have scored nine goals in 18 Premier League games at Old Trafford and never more than a single goal in a single game.
United have made their worst ever start to a Premier League season with five points from five games. Winning just one of their last 6 games in all competitions.
Louis van Gaal’s side are yet to face a team who finished in the top half of the table last season, having played Sunderland, Swansea and all three promoted clubs.
They have lost 10 of their last 25 home games in the league. The previous 10 defeats came across a period of 148 games.
Wayne Rooney needs one more goal to reach 175 and become the outright third-top scorer in Premier League history, overtaking Thierry Henry who he is currently level with.
West Ham have scored five goals in their last two away games. That is one more than they managed in their previous six matches on the road.
Sam Allardyce’s side have kept just one clean sheet in their last 17 Premier League matches.
Latest posts by Harry Robinson (see all)
- Opinion: Angel Di Maria must stay at Manchester United - July 19, 2015
- Opinion: Time for English football to learn the real lesson - May 29, 2015
- Xavi – A tribute to ‘the’ Spanish footballer - May 21, 2015