Manchester United away. Always an interesting game, whether it be Paolo di Canio’s famous ‘offside’ goal in the 2000-01 FA Cup or West Ham staying up on the final day of the 2006-07 season thanks to the efforts of a little Argentinian going by the name of Carlos Tevez.
Saturday’s match is also building up to be a cracker and West Ham fans will feel they’ve got their best chance in years to get one over Manchester United in their back garden. A poor start to the season coupled with defensive injuries and uncertainties will do nothing but boost the Hammers confidence going into their visit to Old Trafford. Smalling, Evans, Jones, Carrick and Fellaini are all doubts for United, however the summer signings of Falcao, Herrara and Di Maria to name a few will help to shore up Manchester United’s team.
Meanwhile the Hammers have concerns of their own – £7 million man Cheikhou Kouyaté was confirmed by the club to have suffered a groin injury in the 3-1 victory against Liverpool and will face sitting on the sidelines for up to six weeks, whilst captain Kevin Nolan and record signing Andy Carroll are also unlikely, especially the latter, to feature against United. A 4-3-3 (or 4-3-2-1 if you consider Valencia and Downing played out wide) formation was used in the win against Liverpool, however with the absence of Kouyaté it’s likely that last Saturday’s formation will be tweaked giving Manchester United a new headache in terms of guessing how the Hammers will line up.
Against Leicester United employed a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, something has rarely been seen before and is now in use due to the new summer signings and the arrival of Louis van Gaal as the manager. Such as the case with West Ham, Manchester United may also look to change how they line up due to the rumours that they could enter the match without any recognised centre backs. One up front breathes and air of familiarity for West Ham however Manchester United may find the constant changing of players and formations too much to handle and subsequently suffer under the already established pressure.
West Ham come into this match off the back of an impressive 3-1 win against Champions League outfit Liverpool with two out of the three goals being netted by summer signings Diafra Sakho and Morgan Amalfitano. Manchester United, despite being 3-1 up with just 30 minutes left to play, suffered a 5-3 defeat at the hands of newly promoted Leicester City.
Whilst the Hammers sit four places above United in 8th place the home side are the favourites for obvious reasons, one being the sum of £150 million that has been spent on apparently improving the side. It’s quite hard to predict who’ll triumph at 4:45pm on Saturday due to the spluttering start Manchester United have had whilst West Ham have surprised critics by playing more passing football than last season. Personally I’m going for a 1-0 win to Manchester United nevertheless that’s not to say West Ham won’t get a draw, or maybe even another famous win.