By Imran Kardar
Manchester United will come up against West Ham United at Old Trafford looking to make sure that they too are not rolled over by the London club. To date West Ham has beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea. Quite a list that and they surely will be looking to add Manchester United to it! United are facing problems of their own with injuries hitting the squad right when the games will start to come thick and fast.
United will be without 6 senior players in Wayne Rooney, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw for the game against the Hammers. The two names there who will hit the team hard are Rojo and Rooney. With Luke Shaw out with a broken leg, Marcos Rojo was doing a good job substituting at left back. He has had a few bad games in that position as well however he adds stability and a physical presence. With him out injured, that too long term with a shoulder dislocation in training, United and LVG have a serious problem. Rooney, though not playing well, is still a key player for United with his ability to link the midfield with the attack. Also with Wilson having been loaned out and Rooney out injured that leaves only Martial as the only striker in the squad. Daley Blind can substitute at left back and has played there before this season but then someone will need to come in and take his place at centre back and with Jones also out injured that leaves LVG with no other choice than Paddy McNair. Unless LVG decides to play Carrick at centre back, this is one solution. Another and most likely solution is that he will go with three at the back with McNair, Smalling and Blind. I have serious reservations of the three at the back formation because whenever United play that formation they concede goals and don’t look comfortable defending.
Team line up should read as this DDG, McNair, Smalling and Blind to make up the defensive unit. Darmian and Young to start as wingbacks. Expect Schneiderlin to come back in for Carrick and get the start alongside Schweinsteiger. Mata to be deployed as the No.10 and Memphis and Martial to lead the attack. This sounds like a real chopped and change line up that could unsettle the team. But then the Red Devils cannot risk having a bad game and must bag three points.
With the festive fixtures due thick and fast United can set the early pace by winning this game. After this game United will travel away to Bournemouth, before hosting Norwich at home, then are away to Stoke before the big one to end the month at home against Chelsea. The Red Devils need to get the maximum number of points from thee fixtures to enable them to be top of the table come Christmas. So it’s all to play for starting with West Ham, who themselves have some injury concerns biggest of which is Payet who will miss the game.
There has been a lot of talk after the Leicester game last weekend where again United has been called dull and boring. There have been reports that the players are unhappy and that LVG needs to go back to the attacking way of Manchester United. Surely he will be feeling the pressure ahead of this game. But having experience on his side and also having the ability to not care about what is being said around him, I expect LVG to tell the players to express themselves in this game. Yes, LVG would want to ensure that the points are in the bag but I have a feeling that for this game he’ll demand the players get the three points and also play attacking football. Hence, I’ll go with a 2-0 win and United to keep pressure on the league leaders. GGMU!