In a showdown that was billed as a pivotal meeting in this year’s Champions League chase, Manchester United managed to claim maximum points thanks to a last-gasp winner on Saturday afternoon.
With Marcus Rashford bagging a 93rd-minute winner at Old Trafford, the former Premier League champions leapfrogged West Ham courtesy of their 1-0 victory as they at least briefly found a route back into the top-four.
While United might have once again struggled to find top gear with much stability in what was a largely uneventful affair at Old Trafford, there is no doubt that they will head into their winter break riding a real wave.
In what could easily turn out to be one of their most crucial victories of the season, we have taken a look at the key talking points after Saturday’s contest.
United fire their way back into the top-four
Picking up some perfect momentum away at Brentford earlier in the week, Manchester United would have simply been desperate to avoid another Old Trafford blip when they returned home on Saturday afternoon.
However, while it seemed almost certain that the former Premier League champions might be heading for another frustrating outcome here, there was time for Marcus Rashford to send the sellout home support into overdrive.
While the England international might have endured some public struggles so far this season, Rashford popped up at the back stick in the 93rd-minute as he fired his side into pole position to clinch another top-four finish.
Although United might have once again struggled to find top gear on home soil, they showed plenty of their famous resolve and were probably a worthy winner on Saturday.
With Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line despite suffering a neck injury earlier in the week, there were signs that United are starting to find their feet under Ralf Rangnick.
Moyes’ transfer dithering costs the Hammers
Putting in a defensive horror show at home against relegation outsiders Leeds last weekend as they suffered a 3-2 defeat, David Moyes made it clear that he was calling on an immediate response from his West Ham side on Saturday afternoon.
However, making his return to Old Trafford without a single win at his former employers in the away dugout, Moyes’ wait only continues as his side put in what was a largely toothless display against their top-four rivals.
Despite welcoming back both Kurt Zouma and Tomas Soucek here, many Hammers fans would have been left scratching their heads over not just Moyes’ tactics on Saturday, but his whole plan throughout January’s transfer window.
With Michail Antonio looking a shadow of the player who opened the 2021/22 campaign enjoying a stellar purple patch, it has been no secret for almost two years now that West Ham are crying out for a new attacking option before the window slams shut in a matter of days now.
Missing out on a maiden top-four finish last season but just two points, many around the London Stadium had earmarked this month’s window as the most important of Moyes’ tenure.
However, now in a real uphill battle if they’re to claim a Champions League spot, West Ham are yet to add a single new addition to their squad and questions will be asked of exactly what Head of Recruitment Rob Newman has been doing over recent months.
A successful week for Rangnick
Brought to Old Trafford to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær back in November following Manchester United’s 4-1 drumming against Watford, it is fair to say that the Reds have struggled to immediately find their feet under Ralf Rangnick.
Coming in on an interim basis until the end of the season, the highly-touted German coach has enjoyed what could be a defining week.
Eventually breezing last Brentford earlier in the week thanks to a 3-0 win, Saturday’s victory against their Champions League rivals certainly offers them a real boost when heading into a brief winter break.
Finding their way back into the top-four at the expense of the Hammers, Rangnick has still suffered just a single defeat across all formats from any of his first 13 matchups in the Old Trafford dugout.
While the one-time RB Leipzig boss might know that he hasn’t got his new squad quite firing on all cylinders, he should take plenty of positives away from their performances over the past week.
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Maguire, Varane, Telles, McTominay, Fred, Greenwood, Fernandes, Elanga, Ronaldo
Subs: Cavani, Martial, Rashford
West Ham: Areola, Coufal, Dawson, Zouma, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Lanzini, Fornals, Bowen, Antonio
Goals: Rashford 93’
Yellow Cards: Manchester United: Maguire – West Ham: Rice
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: John Moss
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