Few would have predicted this fixture as being a fight for Champions League football, but West Ham United have been excellent under David Moyes. He will return to Old Trafford with his reputation restored and he will be looking to get one over on his former employers. Manchester United’s victory over Manchester City was a surprising one, but it has given them a cushion to the chasing pack and they will feel relatively confident that they will finish in the top four. That said, they won’t want to get complacent and will see this weekend as another opportunity to consolidate their position.
West Ham have been the surprise story of the season, especially after a poor start. In the opening weeks, there was national discussion on where their first win would come from. Then, a few big victories steered them clear of danger and they haven’t let up since. In recent weeks, they have shown their consistency and they will go to Old Trafford looking for three points. They are two points below Chelsea with a game in hand, while a win on Sunday would move them within three points of Manchester United. They are in with a chance of beating the odds to finish in the top four.
Manchester United will need to guard against complacency this weekend, as they need to build on the result against Manchester City. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been praised for his tactical approach in big matches, but to take the team to the next level, they need to perform at that level more consistently. They may have one eye on the second leg of their Europa League tie against AC Milan, but a loss on Sunday would drag them back into the battle for the top four. They need to focus on West Ham.
This will be the 50th meeting between Manchester United and West Ham United in the Premier League. The former have won 29 of these.
David Moyes has failed to win in his last 14 matches at Old Trafford as a visiting manager.
He will be one of the front runners to win the PFA Player of the Year award due to his consistency throughout the season. The Portugal international has been the talisman for Manchester United since his signing and he will have a big part to play as they attempt to have a successful finish to the campaign. They are still in the Europa League and the FA Cup, while they will be hoping to maintain their current Premier League position. If they are to win either competition, they will be reliant on Fernandes to provide the attacking quality. He currently has 16 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League. On Sunday, Manchester United will be facing a huge battle to dominate in the midfield areas. Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have been one of the best partnerships in the league this season. If Solskjaer’s men are to get three points, they will need Fernandes to pick up pockets of space and cause problems for the West Ham midfield.
It has been an excellent individual season for Declan Rice. Many expected him to move away from West Ham to achieve his ambitions in the game, but he now has the chance to help West Ham reach the Champions League. It is likely that he will leave at some point, but he will be desperate to play for the Hammers in Europe. There are few better central midfielders than Rice in the Premier League, as he adds battling qualities and leadership to David Moyes’ team. He averages 1.9 tackles and 1.9 interceptions per game, while his pass accuracy currently stands at 87.6%. In addition to what he offers out of possession, he has developed his game on the ball, as he is more willing to step forward with the ball and play threatening forward passes. If West Ham dominate the midfield areas on Sunday, they have a great chance of a positive result.
Anthony Martial is a major doubt, while Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani are both still on the sidelines. Amad Diallo could be in line for his first Premier League start following a goal in the Europa League during the week. David de Gea could be back involved following his trip to Spain.
The big absentee for the visitors is Jesse Lingard, as he is ineligible to face his parent club. Angelo Ogbonna is out, but Arthur Masuaku is getting close to a return.
West Ham United have a great chance of going to Old Trafford and recording a crucial win in the battle for Champions League football. They have the benefit of being able to focus entirely on the league season, while Manchester United may have one eye on their Europa League tie. The Hammers should be well rested and they will be facing a home side without a number of key attackers. David Moyes may finally get a win at Old Trafford as a visiting manager.
Manchester United 1-2 West Ham United