Injury-hit Manchester United will attempt to avoid the destiny of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City when they welcome West Ham to Old Trafford, and at the same time prove the doubters wrong with a convincing performance. The Hammers have been thoroughly impressive when facing the title contenders on the road, but their form has dropped a great deal over the past few weeks.
Looking at their results so far and current position in the Premier League standings, Manchester United would have every right to be happy with how things are going, but things are definitely not as they seem. And while Louis van Gaal has got to take credit for patching up the leaky back line, he has clearly failed to find the right balance in the side, which is why his side look thoroughly disappointing when going forward. The overly cautious approach does not exactly go hand in hand with the club’s tradition of nurturing attractive, attacking style of play, so it is hardly surprising that the fans are not too fond of their manager at the moment. The lack of goals would not be such a big issue if the Red Devils were carving out clear-cut chances, but with just one goal scored in the last two matches and not too many goalscoring opportunities created, the hosts don’t have too much reason for optimism at the moment. The latest injury crisis is another cause for concern as captain Wayne Rooney was added to the infirmary due to an ankle problem, with Marco Rojo, Ander Herrera and Phil Jones also on the sidelines. Jesse Lindgard should be back after recovering from a hamstring injury, but his recent performances have failed to prove he deserves to be in the England squad.
West Ham have become genuine giant slayers under Slaven Bilic, recording impressive away wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, while also defeating very good Crystal Palace side, and beating struggling Chelsea at Boleyn Ground. However, the Hammers face a tough task in an attempt to extend the amazing run, and not because Manchester United are a force to be reckoned with at Old Trafford, but rather due to their poor form. It is probably not surprising that the dip in form coincided with Dimitri Payet’s injury as the former Marseille playmaker was probably team’s best player in the opening exchanges. And with important attackers Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho on the sidelines as well, the West Ham could find it hard to break the Premier League’s strongest defence. The Hammers were pretty disappointing on their last two travels, suffering 2-0 and 4-1 defeats to Watford and Tottenham Hotspur, so chances are they will revert to a more defensive approach in an attempt to prevent Manchester United from scoring. The return of Mark Noble and James Collins from suspension will be a welcoming boost, but it remains to be seen whether Slaven Bilic’s men can end the barren run this weekend.
Manchester United remain tough to break as witnessed by mere 10 conceded goals in 14 league fixtures, but with Wayne Rooney out of the picture, their attack should be even more disappointing than before. West Ham, on the other hand, are expected to adopt a cautious approach at Old Trafford, so we highly doubt both sides will get on the scoresheet.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best Odds: 5/8