Manchester United host West Ham United in the Premier League with the Red Devils hoping to maintain their title challenge. Despite their being plenty of talk being about Manchester United’s boring “style” of play, facts remain facts – United are unbeaten at home and are one point behind top placed Manchester City.
West Ham started the season very brightly and have beaten big teams in the competition (Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City). However, since losing Dimitri Payet about a month ago, their form has taken a bit of a dip and they find themselves in the midst of a five match winless run. A win against the Old Trafford outfit will be able to relieve Bilic and co. of some pressure and prove that they can cope without the influential Payet.
Manchester United are without striker Wayne Rooney because of an ankle injury, while Marcos Rojo is out with a dislocated shoulder. The side will also not be able to field Ander Herrera and Phil Jones who are out injured but Jesse Lingard is expected to make a return after a minor hamstring problem and may as well find himself starting the game. Marouane Fellaini will be back in contention after playing 90 minutes for the U-21 side.
West Ham United
For West Ham, injury worries are getting worse. Striker Diafra Sakho has been ruled out with a thigh injury for three months. Midfielder Mark Noble and defender James Collins will both be available after completing suspensions.
Smalling has made himself the most consistent of players and has arguably been the best defender in the league this season. His calming influence has definitely helped the side and it is no surprise that no team has been able to score at Old Trafford in the last five games. Not to mention, the side has conceded the least number of goals in the league so far (10). Smalling will lead the side in Wayne Rooney’s absence.
The 28-year-old free-kick specialist could be an attacking option who could prove his worth in the absence of Payet. The former Lazio player has scored in three of his four Premier League starts for West Ham this season. His gorgeous set-piece against West Brom must have given him plenty of confidence and he might be able to breach David de Gea’s goal through one of those, as well as provide impetus to the rest of the attack.
- Manchester United have taken 35 points from their last 13 Premier League games against West Ham (W11, D2).
- West Ham have won just two of their last 22 league games at Old Trafford – they lost the other 20.
- United and Tottenham are the only sides yet to lose a Premier League home match this season.
- Slaven Bilic’s side have scored in all but one of their Premier League games this term, a record bettered only by Leicester.
[Stats courtesy BBC]