Matchday 14 of the Premier League serves up a thrilling battle between Manchester United and West Ham as we edge closer to a long World Cup break in November.
Man United goes into the fixture after a comfortable 3-0 cruise against Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League on Thursday night and, domestically, The Red Devils remain 6th in the league with 20 points. As for West Ham, their last game was also a Thursday night European game with a 1-0 victory against Silkeborg in the Europa Conference League. The Hammers sit 10th in the table and six points behind Man United with 14 points after twelve games.
Manchester United remain in good form recently, losing one game in their last nine in all competitions and have finally established some momentum in the league. West Ham has also gained some great form, winning eight of their last eleven games in all competitions and look more than prepared to take on any side that faces them.
When and Where?
Date: 29th October 2022.
Venue: Old Trafford.
Time: 16:15 BST.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistant referees: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin.
Fourth official: Jarred Gillett.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Steve Meredith.
For Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to return to playing in the league after his suspension in their last game against Chelsea appears to be cleared and looks favourable to feature in the game. Former Champions League winner, Raphael Varane, will miss out on the game with doubts of him even playing again for United before the World Cup after a hamstring injury in the Chelsea game. Harry Maguire and Donny van de Beek both seem to have recovered from injury after featuring on Thursday and the only fitness issues manager Erik ten Hag will have to worry about are knocks to Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Anthony Martial.
Several players remain doubtful for David Moyes, with midfield starlet Lucas Paqueta picking up a shoulder injury against Southampton and Craig Dawson looking to recover in time from a knock. Summer signing Nayef Aguerd finally made an introduction to West Ham fans with playing time on Thursday’s game although Moyes has suggested that he won’t be able to play. Jarrod Bowen has yet another injury scare as he missed out on West Ham’s last game and seems unlikely to feature with an ankle injury.
Manchester United’s style of play has completely altered under Ten Hag. There is no longer a side that would sit back, absorb pressure and counterattack, but now it is the team that will dominate possession of the ball and look to be the main threat between the two sides – only Graham Potter’s Chelsea side has averaged a higher percentage of possession in games this season. As a result of United’s unusual attacking formation, Ten Hag’s team frequently switches from a 4-2-3-1 shape to a 3-2-5 or even a 3-1-6 formation depending on the game’s intensity. The United fullbacks frequently take up more central positions, almost as if they were midfielders, and give priority to the wingers to extend the play and put the fullbacks of the opposition in one-on-one situations. The signings of Christian Eriksen and Casemiro in the summer have been instrumental in the United team by having a playmaker to break down sides effectively and a shield as good as Casemiro to recover the ball should United lose it in a threatening area.
West Ham can occasionally play in a defensively minded 5-4-1 or 3-4-2-1 style, although David Moyes’ tenure as manager of the club has been characterised by a strict 4-2-3-1 system. As the attacking midfielder teams up with one of either Michael Antonio or new signing, Scamacca, to press up the field during defensive phases as the shape of the team frequently shifts from a traditional 4-4-2 to a 4-4-1-1 Unsurprisingly, in attack, the fullbacks frequently charge forward one at a time to increase attacking numbers, forcing the inverted wingers further inside to create more opportunities close to goal.
West Ham can display a great level of grace when in possession, especially when players like Declan Rice or now Lucas Paqueta in midfield are involved. However, Moyes’ team typically takes a straightforward approach in which they eventually search for their striker and then take advantage of his superb hold-up play to include others closer to goal. That’s especially simple to accomplish on counterattacks since the striker floats toward the side of the ball to receive and drag defenders with him, holds the ball up, and enables others to run into the empty space. This is something that will undoubtedly trouble Manchester United in the game and it is something that West Ham must exploit to try to win the game.
Fernandes has seen a big drop in form over the last season or so, particularly in goalscoring. However, he looks to have settled nicely as a chance creator under Ten Hag – the Portuguese midfielder has registered 16 key passes and 5 big chances created in his last three games although didn’t get any assists, creating a question as to whether the only problem is the finishing department for these chances.
The West Ham game will be a big test for the United midfield as having that balance between attacking and breaking down the defence and also having the correct reading of the game to prevent any passes slipped into wide areas will be crucial. Bruno Fernandes has a solid chance of being the main man for United in this game to change the game with his ability to create something out of nothing.
Rice has always established himself as a top footballer for West Ham and he could easily make the difference in the game between the two sides. His intelligent reading of the game, combined with his ability to pick out a pass and drive forwards will be a key tool to hurt the Manchester United midfield and even completely shut it down entirely.
It’ll likely be a very busy day for Rice in midfield but if he can get in ahead and establish some authority in the game, it might generate enough confidence for West Ham to take the game to United and pin them back enough. One thing is guaranteed in the game; it’ll all come down to the battle of the midfield and if one team can have that slight advantage of the presence in there, they could be the favourites for the game.
Manchester United predicted lineup vs West Ham: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Shaw, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford.
West Ham predicted lineup vs Manchester United: Fabianski, Johnson, Zouma, Kehrer, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Fornals, Downes, Benrahma, Scamacca.