Old Trafford will play host to one of the biggest matches this weekend. Manchester United host West Ham United, with both teams competing to finish in the top four. It feels much more important for the home side, as they are playing catch up in the race. David Moyes will be hopeful that he can spoil the party on his return to the club. The visitors have been very good in matches against the traditional top six. They will be confident that they can get another win against one of their rivals for a Champions League finish.
Manchester United got their league season back on track with a win against Brentford during the week. It should give supporters encouragement that they can go on to finish in the top four, even if they remain outsiders in the race. A win on Saturday will see them move above their opponents, but Spurs and Arsenal both have games in hand over Ralf Rangnick’s men. This means their fate isn’t in their own hands. The talent is in the squad to finish the season strongly, but there are doubts about the structure under their interim coach. Saturday will be a huge test of their ambitions.
West Ham have been very good for the last two seasons. David Moyes has built an excellent football team and deserves a lot of credit for the overachievement at the London Stadium. Last weekend, there will have been disappointment about their failure to beat Leeds United. However, they won’t lose confidence about their abilities to finish in the top four. They have beaten Chelsea and Liverpool already this season. They will believe that they can get another statement victory at Old Trafford. For the lack of structure within the Manchester United team, the opposite is true for the visitors.
Only Leicester City (33) have conceded more goals than Manchester United (30) in the top half of the table.
West Ham United have scored at least two goals in each of their last five Premier League matches.
It has been an excellent week for Bruno Fernandes, as he has reminded the world why he is one of the most important players in the Manchester United team. He appears to have his swagger back and could be vital in the team’s attempts to secure Champions League football for next season. There have been doubts about his abilities to clique with Cristiano Ronaldo, but there were some promising signs against Brentford. Ronaldo chested the ball down to Fernandes, who sprang in behind the defence before assisting Mason Greenwood. It was a great attacking move and it will have encouraged Rangnick. There needs to be more link-up like that in the coming months. The 27-year-old has now contributed seven goals and five assists in the Premier League this season. It is unlikely he will match his returns from last season, but he remains a huge threat in the attacking half. West Ham have looked less secure at the back in recent weeks. An in-form Fernandes could cause them a lot of problems.
The last few weeks have been excellent for Jarrod Bowen, as he is now emerging as the talisman for West Ham. There have been links to Liverpool in the past, while he will surely be in contention for a call up to the England squad this year. He is proving that he can consistently perform to a high standard in the Premier League and he looks set for an excellent return for the season. At the moment, he has six goals and seven assists. The target will be to reach ten for both. If he can start to reach these numbers consistently, he will emerge as a player deserving of the Champions League stage. This is an opportunity for him to show his quality at one of the biggest stadiums in the country. It will be in matches like this one that he can convince Gareth Southgate that he deserves a place at the World Cup.
Jadon Sancho should be available after missing out in the week for personal reasons. Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw are both doubts, while Scott McTominay should be able to feature after being taken off during the week. Paul Pogba remains a few weeks away from a return.
It is hoped that Tomas Soucek will be available after a period on the sidelines. Kurt Zouma and Mark Noble are expected to be unavailable until next month. Said Benrahma remains at the African Cup of Nations.
Neither side look to be a convincing defensive unit at the moment, for one reason or another. There should be goals this weekend, as both have talent in attack. Manchester United haven’t looked convincing under Rangnick, therefore there is rightly doubt about their ability to beat a top four rival. West Ham were poor against Leeds, but they are a difficult team to play against and their balance should mean they have enough to win at Old Trafford. It is smarter to back the visitors at the moment.
Manchester United 1-2 West Ham United