Manchester United will be hoping to continue their unbeaten home record this season as they take on West Ham United, who have not won in four Premier League outings.
As expected, the Red Devils had the majority of the possession in their last match away to fellow high-flyers Leicester City, but were again uninspiring and rarely looked like creating anything meaningful from open play. After having fallen behind as a result of being caught on the break, they relied almost solely on set-pieces to provide the route to goal, and it came as little surprise that Bastian Schweinsteiger’s leveller on the stroke of half-time came from a corner.
While Louis van Gaal declared himself disappointed with the 1-1 draw and insisted that his side was dominant, he will surely be aware that they lacked the incisiveness and arguably the killer instinct to secure all three points. Anthony Martial showed flashes of speed an trickery but since being deployed in a wide position has become less effective, while captain Wayne Rooney was hauled off midway through the second half after a thoroughly miserable individual performance.
Despite their proud Old Trafford record, a number of supporters continue to find Man Utd’s current brand of football far from satisfactory to watch, and a similarly ponderous showing here will only play into West Ham’s hands. After a terrific start on the road, the visitors have lost their last two away matches and so are looking for an improvement of their own. A return to form did not come on Sunday, as despite taking the lead and bossing the first half they were forced to settle for a point against West Bromwich Albion.
A marvellous free-kick from Mauro Zarate lifted the match from its forgettable early exchanges and from then until the interval they were unable to make the most of their superiority, which eventually came back to bite them. The inclusion of Zarate in the starting XI appears to be Slaven Bilic’s trump card at present, as that goal was his fifth in the six games he has begun this term. and his efforts against the Baggies as well as his link up play with the in-form Manuel Lanzini means he has a good chance of retaining his place.
Rooney is missing for United with an ankle injury, joining Ander Herrera, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo on the treatment table. On the bright side, Jesse Lingard is back after being unavailable for the trip to Leicester.
West Ham are likely to replace the injured Diafra Sakho with Andy Carroll. Elsewhere, James Collins and captain Mark Noble are both back from suspension.
Last Meeting: With Wayne Rooney having been sent off for a cynical challenge on Stewart Downing, Man Utd clung on to a narrow 2-1 win in September 2014, with West Ham’s Kevin Nolan denied a late equaliser by a narrow offside call. Midway through the first half it seemed to be plain sailing for the hosts as they went two goals up through Rooney and strike partner Robin van Persie, before Diafra Sakho pulled one back.
Played for both – Rio Ferdinand: The highly decorated central defender broke into the West Ham first-team as a teenager and made an impressive 127 appearances before leaving in 2000. He became Man Utd’s record signing in 2002 amid a media furore, and lived up to his fee by being an instrumental part of six championship winning sides and helping to win the Champions League in 2008. He left in 2014 having appeared in 312 Premier League matches and scored seven goals.
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