Having negotiated the elements against Stoke on Wednesday night, United turn their attention to the Premier League which, this weekend, sees the arrival of Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United at Old Trafford and of another set of fans whose hatred for United overcomes even that normally destined for their local rivals.
As East London’s finest make the journey up, David Moyes is left counting his injured player like a kid counting down the days to Christmas Day, albeit with a complete different attitude.
Having lost Robin Van Persie for a month, the United manager will have to do without Nani tomorrow – which, given his performances, might be a blessing in disguise – as the Portuguese winger has suffered a hamstring problem which could keep him out for part of the festive period.
Wayne Rooney, however, has a chance to feature tomorrow and West Ham must be sick of the sight of him, as the United striker has netted seven goals in the last six league meetings against the Hammers, who haven’t scored against United in six of their last eight Premier League meetings.
Profligacy in front of goal has been a recurring theme for both sides, with United scoring just eight in their first eight league games at Old Trafford this season, while West Ham haven’t found the net in nine of their first 16 league outings, which hasn’t helped their dismal away record which has seen them winning just once away from Upton Park this season.
With their striking options virtually non-existent given the long term injury to Andy Carroll, Big Sam is likely to deploy his usual strategy which, nine times out of 10, consists of parking the bus in front of the penalty box in the hope of weathering the storm, before nicking a goal on the counter.
That and United’s diabolical performances at home against Everton and Newcastle do nothing to dismiss the theory that it could be another long afternoon at Old Trafford, but consecutive away wins at Villa and Stoke leave some room for some, extremely controlled and very prudent, optimism.
Should Rooney not be passed fit, Danny Welbeck will be expected to lead the line again up-front, with Phil Jones and one between Tom Cleverley, who delivered a much needed improved performance against Stoke, and Ryan Giggs set to take their place in the middle of the park, unless Moyes opts to give Marouane Fellaini his monthly runout.
Having registered two consecutive clean sheets, Moyes isn’t likely to change much at the back, but one between Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic could replace Chris Smalling, while Jonny Evans will have to take care of former United Academy’s bad boy Ravel Morrison, who’s impressed since moving to London.
With Arsenal and Chelsea hopefully taking points off each other on Monday night and with Spurs facing a testing trip to Southampton, United – whose 16 points are their worst return after 16 games since they picked up 24 over the same amount of games in the 2001-02 season – could make up some ground and make the Christmas turkey taste just a little bit better.
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Tags: Match Preview