West Ham United vs Manchester United: Preview

Fresh from World Cup draw fever, the attention will once more be focused on the Premier League. Manchester United have the rare occurrence of a Saturday, 3pm kick-off, and the lucky recipients of a visit from Sir Alex Ferguson on his 1,300th game in charge of the Red Devils are West Ham United. That’s 3pm GMT at Upton Park or the Boleyn Ground if you prefer.

The Hammers are fresh from the 5-3 victory over Burnley last weekend, at one point 5-0 up. But former United reserve Chris Eagles was the catalyst for the Clarets as they looked to make the score more respectable and ultimately demonstrate the weakness of West Ham’s defence. Having not had a clean sheet since August and scoring in each of their last eleven matches, including an impressive 8 in their last three games, a goal fest should ensue.

Matthew Upson should have recovered from a hamstring injury to help repair the leaky defence that has conceded at least two goals in 9 of their last 10 Premier League matches. Reported United target Carlton Cole is out until the New Year and Alessandro Diamanti is doubtful with a thigh strain.  This means Zavon Hines will start upfront for the Hammers,

Long-term absentees Calum Davenport, Dean Ashton and Luis Boa Morte are all still sidelined. Valon Behrami is also out after minor knee surgery. Forgotten man Kieron Dyer should be on the bench after playing 75 minutes for the reserves on Monday.

Gianfranco Zola has the Hammers playing an attacking brand of football, a brand of entertaining football that has led his side into a relegation dogfight. One player who is always up for a battle is Scott Parker, he has matured into a more holding role during his time with West Ham and is a vital component of Zola’s team, he will look to impose his game on our midfield and is also a threat when he ventures into the opposition half.

United go into the game on the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the Carling Cup. With Ferguson selecting a second string side, the young lads will have definitely put themselves into first team contention, Darron Gibson being a case in point.

Edwin Van der Sar, who has saved 83% of all shots on target, a league high, has recovered from a knee injury and will force Tomasz Kuszczak back onto the bench.

Patrice Evra will return to the back line to join Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown in an almost unchanged unit. John O’Shea and Jonny Evans are still out with thigh and ankle injuries, respectively.

The biggest headache for Ferguson is the midfield, Anderson was impressive against Spurs, Michael Carrick had a late cameo but Darron Gibson stole all the headlines with two wonderful goals and surely deserves to keep his place in the side. Antonio Valencia, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs should all return to the team, and Paul Scholes is also in with a shout.

Wayne Rooney who bagged a hat-trick last week, will almost certainly partner Dimitar Berbatov, leaving Michael Owen out in the cold once more.

There have been more goals at Upton Park than at any other Premier League ground this season. We do not have a great record at Upton Park with two defeats in our last three trips to east London, though last season we completed the double over the Hammers. We should expect nothing less than a victory to keep the pressure on Chelsea, who face a tricky tie against that ‘massive club’ from across the way.

Prediction: 3-1 United

Probable Line Up: Van der Sar, Neville, Brown, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Fletcher, Gibson, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov

Exclusive! Manchester United fans can get 25/1 on a victory over West Brom on Sunday by clicking here before 2:15pm!

245 Comments

  1. After beating Arsenal, the Chelski scum were all mouthing about how invincible they were. The have now lost 2 games on the bounce, 🙂 and not looking good at all.
    I think the next 6-7 weeks will be a great window of op for us to overtake the bums. We face fairly lightweight opposition until we meet Arsenal at the end of January.

  2. @Redrich: Well that arguement alone would justify Nani being given as much opportunity as can be availed. He makes and scores goals frequently. It won’t come as a shock to me the thing about goals but if I am assessing a player’s performance I do it holistically. He is not Inzaghi,who can only appear at one point and score,he is a midfielder with other responsibilities. Now.you should take note that as recently as yesterday I was aggressively defending Gibson saying he needs time to settle in and learn and polish up other aspects of his game. This was a match assessment and rating for this specific game. I cannot say I rate Gibson at 9 because he scored a goal and that’s all that matters and also because he will do better next time. I know he will but he was poor TODAY. Anderson was at best average but I know he will play better next time,but people will definitely switch off once I rate him at 8.5 because he got an assist and he will play better. Cheers

  3. @Shami: He’s is like a Canada Goose getting ready for take off. He’s migrating from good to poor!! 🙂

  4. I did it!!! :mrgreen: I managed to score the Owen vs City goal on FIFA 10!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: How good am i?! 😎 Gonna work on the video tomorrow, will probably be up during the course of the week. Stay tuned…

    And good night by the way. 🙂 I`m tired, it`s 03:40 here… 😳

  5. @jpg: My point was that I would not lose sleep over PIG as our number one for a while. Of course there are better goalkeepers in the world than him, but I do not think it is a position of priority for our club right now, so as long as we do not have the likes of Roy Carroll kicking stopping shots back there I will have no complaints. Personally I would like to see PIG continue to get a run of games. You can see his confidence building and his United teammates support him. I think he could prove you wrong that he is a number one…

  6. @CraigMc: It will be a sad day for me if Nani does leave. Granted, he did not make the most of his opportunities when he played, but the boy needed more than a game or two every month to prove his worth. I think Sir Alex has let him down and we will regret not giving him a long run of games. Please tell me why he could not play three or four games in a row on the left and Valencia on the right? Sir Alex, when speaking of Nani, said that it was Valencia’s form that has kept Nani from playing. Well that is bollocks…when Ronaldo was here Nani played on the left…therefore Valencia has nothing to do with Nani not playing… 🙄

  7. @Grognard: Your right. January would not be a good time for him to go, as far as the price we would get for him is concerned. However, I am of the lot that believe getting rid of Nani, be it January or over the summer, is a mistake. Look, if Nani had a run of four or five games and was bollocks for the most part then I might come on board with those who feel he is not United material, but Nani never gets that opportunity to prove his worth. I just think Sir Alex is handling Nani the wrong way and we are going to look at Nani playing for some other club where he is able to get a run of games and he will be electric. Aside from Ronaldo, especially in Ronaldo’s absence, Nani was the best player for Portugal during the World Cup run. Yet he comes back to United and does not even make the bench! I just do not get it…

  8. @RichmondRed: PIG is a fairly solid keeper. His Achilles is his kicking game, as evidenced today, but his decision making is quite good and I would put up with bad kicking if he was making the right choices in the box.
    He seems to have improved with age (as do most keepers) and his reflexes are sharper than ever. He can command great respect with the teams back line and I just wonder, if at some point before, his English skills let him down with communicating with them.
    He is clearly a better choice than Foster, based on this seasons appearances, but is he our next number one? – too soon to judge.
    However, with the fickle nature of GK’s, this could be a case of better the devil you know!!

  9. @Jay wire: Spot on Jay…PIG has been just as consistent in my opinion when he has the chance as VDS has this season. I also agree that some of our defenders are responsible for PIG’s kicking woes. However, I have observed the PIG brings much of this upon himself as well. There has been plenty of moments where a quick ball with pace is kicked back to him and PIG does not even come close to finding a single target in the field of play. Plus, when he gets the ball to his feet and he is looking for someone to pass to he moves the ball around as if he has a potato sack wrapped around his feet. Now I for one have been spoiled by the fluid motion VDS uses when the ball is at his feet. But then again, not many are as good at VDS when it comes to that kind of ability. However, does this shortcoming of PIG lead to goals scored aginst us? No. And yes, kicking the ball out of the field of play makes us lose possession, but so does kicking the ball to Rooney when he is fighting upfront all by himself with no support! The point is, I like PIG and as long as he is stopping shots and keeping clean sheets, then an occassional ball kicked out of play while frustrating, will never have me calling for Foster to come and take his place. 😀

  10. @Grognard: OMG! thats a first! haha :mrgreen:

    @Grognard: been watching too much sesame street and hence came up with the reference…. blame my 2 year old niece and my sister for making me baby sit her…

    @Red Ranter: i know it was not a venom fill post, which is why i was joking with him. haha maybe my humour didnt flow through with the sesame street reference and smilies.. haha but i was definitely trying to be funny…

    guess i failed haha 😳

  11. @Jay wire: Can’t say I am thrilled with all the other clubs you enjoy watching, but for certain, if their is any other club that has always had my attention over the years it is Juventus. Nice to see that someone else on here pulls for the Bianconeri…great match today…Forza Juve…

  12. @Wink: I certainly can relate to your Sesame Street situation…my two year old needs it like I need United…

  13. @RichmondRed: I have lost all respect for italian football… they are nothing but corrupt politicians dressed up as cheating club owners. Juve, Milan, Fiorentina, and Inter Milan are on my naughty list… I can stand Roma but that is as far as I take my love for italian soccer. I sincerely hope Italy falls flat on their face in June — Materazzi/Zidane killed any Italian romance for me. Cannot stand Italy or their clubs.

    I enjoy German football for the physical nature of their game and their die-hard loud fans.

    Spanish is a 2-horse race every year and the players are diving cheats and lack any physicality in their game. A shoulder barge and they drop as if they have been shot. El classico was a good game and if I have to support a team, I pick Sevilla for my FM-crush for Kanoute. How can you not like a team with Jesus on it?

    French soccer is boring and outside of Lyon and Bordeaux/Marseille/PSG their league seriously lack quality.

    Danish soccer is worth my time when I am in Parken for FCK’s homegames, other than that their league lacks quality but physical game with true fan-dom intact.

    EPL is europe’s superior league and it will stay this way, even with Madrid’s spending spree. Physical, high-pace game with technical gems spread on every team.

  14. @RichmondRed: Like you said in your other post mate – Nani was Portugals best player in Ronnie’s absence in World Cup qualifying games. There are folk on here who do a lot of disputing that, but you can bet they didn’t watch any of Portugals qualifiers, and yet still they dispute – the mind boggles mate. But I really think Nani is very unhappy at United, and he had the opportunity to move to Spain at the time Ronnie went, but he said he wanted to try and make it at United 1st. He didn’t reckon on Fergie being Fergie and ICING him out in the cold. Berbatov and Rooney are a disgrace in their treatment of Nani too, and any unbiased observer of the attitude of these two towards Nani during games cannot dispute this – but they will 🙄 . I can tell you though, that Berbatov and Rooney were just making Nani and other of their team mates scapegoats for their own ineptitude many a time!

  15. @Redrich: I hope you noticed that the last 2 games lost were against NORTHERN teams, and Southerners are not able to overcome Northern warriors or their warrior fans 😀 .

  16. @CraigMc: To be fair, Nani had his chances in the beginning of the season and he petered out after 1-2 games and produced poor displays and got relegated to the bench. after a couple sub appearance where he failed to show why he deserves to play he was not longer on the bench. He will leave come June. If he leaves in Jan it will only be to bring in someone else.

  17. @Redrich: You are so right mate. I tried saying the same thing earlier. Who cares if Scholes is nice and tidy and if Anderson hustles. At the end of the day it’s about scoring goals and Gibson does that better than most on this team. And I for one do not think the rest of his game is all that bad. Just exactly what is Lampards game other than his finishing?

  18. @Redrich: It’s accurate too. If I was Fergie I would assign Gibson to tutor Anderson after practice every day and show him the finer art of kicking a football with pace and accuracy.

  19. @Redrich: Honestly I am starting to believe in our chances again. I still think we are lacking a lot and that we play boring football but we are more resilient than the rest and I have always said one positive thing in all my rants, we have great depth. This depth is going to start to show in the second half when the older teams like Chelsea and Liverpool start feeling the effects of a long season. If we can just get our back four back from injury, I think we will be fine. Fergie knows how to do one thing better than all of them, he understands how to pace a team for a long marathon of a season and he knows what tactics best work for the kind of squad we have. We play a boring unattractive game but this style is presently serving us well. I am not happy about a lot of things but at least I can praise Fergie in the areas where they deserve it. Grit, heart, focus and preparation. Now if we only had a little more improvisational world class talent, we would be hard to stop.

  20. @Jay wire: The more Gibson plays, the better he will get. But he needs to get the chance because the Reserves is where good young talent go to die.

  21. @Red Ranter: Like all geese the Canada goose is just an illegal immigrant who comes to Canada in the Summer and then leaves in the Fall. Disloyal little bastards. I say open hunting season on all of them. 😀 😀

  22. @Grognard: Precisely. As unattractive as we may be, one should never write us off. The resilience and Ferguson’s ability to conjure up things other managers would only dream of always makes us contenders.

    As I’ve always said, we are perhaps a real star creative player short of being a fearful opponent, we certainly aren’t the pushover many thought us to be.

    And whilst I still think the title race with Chelsea will be very tight, we’ll certainly not finish outside the top two. 😉

  23. @RichmondRed: The fact is that the team is Fergie’s and not yours mine or Craig’s. So for that reason Nani has to go. I like the little guy and I want to see him get a chance to play. Seeing as he won’t get it here, might as well let him go. What’s the old saying? “If you love him, let him go”. No need to prolong his misery because he will never get the fair shake from Fergie.

  24. @Wink: Don’t worry mate, I got the joke. Besides, I am a grouchnard and I know it so if I do come up with some positive stuff, I almost expect to get teased over it. 😀

  25. @Red Ranter: I still think Arsenal will mount a second half threat. We need to beat the Liverpool’s and Chelsea’s when we get them at home in the second half. I hate losing to the big three. We have perfected the art of winning ugly though. For many that’s enough, I just can’t jump on that bandwagon. I just remember too many years and too many better times to accept the style of play we offer these days. But I am less on Fergie’s case now because it’s obvious to me now that he is doing what he is doing because he doesn’t have the real money to improve the club. So he is definitely saving the club from the inevitable. I wonder what will happen once he retires?

  26. @Grognard: I agree.

    Also, I am sure you will remember a brief discussion we had in the past, where I said I’d take a season in transition where we rebuild and play football the right way rather than an unsure season where we’re being rubbish and going nowhere. And you said you couldn’t believe I would sacrifice glory for beautiful football. But when we’re winning and doing well I think I would take it and wouldn’t see a reason to complain while pointing out certain obvious deficiencies.

    However, I think subconsciously you have craved more for beautiful fearless football, although I think you also expect glory at the same time. But from a majority of your comments it seems like you crave more for beautiful football as a priority and glory as a by-product.

    Although on the surface of it, I think you will take an ugly title anyday.

    I hope I’m making sense with my half-baked, quasi-Freudian analysis. 🙂

  27. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Opti, thats where I disagree with most United fans who are always on Nani’s back. I don’t think he was poor in those games, but because as a team other players were poor in games, Nani was made the obvious scapegoat. He always will be the whipping boy of the fans, just like Fletcher was. Difference is, Fletch was willing to stay at United and get splinters in his arse on the bench for a good few seasons, whereas Nani and other foreign players won’t settle for that – they want to play to make their international teams!

  28. @CraigMc: Also Fletcher showed marked improvement in performance. Fans don’t take sadistic pleasure in getting on the back of players. They do because they feel frustrated by his performances that’s all. It’s not like they enjoy having a whipping boy. everyone would have loved Nani to step into the void left by Ronaldo when he left. But it’s not happened. And you can blame the fans, Ferguson etc all you like, but I think if there was something really that special about him the coaching staff would have spotted it. Either that or he’s on Fergie’s bad books.

  29. @Red Ranter: Of course I would take an ugly title. I already accepted that last season but I unashamedly also believe in the old adage of wanting mike and eating it too. I want beautiful football and I also demand winning. Why? Because that is what has been fed to me for most of Fergie’s tenure as manager and frankly, we have the players that with a few key additions would allow us to do that. Nothing wrong with wanting both. Winning ugly beats losing ugly. And this year I was pretty sure we would look ugly and have fewer points to show for our lack of style and substance. Fortunately our ugly ways have not transformed us into total losers or anything resembling Liverpool. But I still warn everyone that we are not finished half of the season and we still need to see how this club with it’s lack of world class play makers and goal scorers will fair in the second half. I think we will be fine because we are superior to the others when it comes to a key ingredient in marathons, that being depth.

  30. The full travelling squad is as follows which has travelled to germany:
    Ben Foster, Gabriel Obertan, Magnus Eikrem, Paul Scholes, Darron Gibson, Antonio Valencia, Oliver Gill, Michael Carrick, Matty James, Michael Owen, Darren Fletcher, Danny Welbeck, Ji-sung Park, Anderson, Patrice Evra, Cameron Stewart, Tomasz Kuszczak, Nani, Oliver Norwood.

    Will we be able to top our group taking into account our makeshift defence & young players? nani is travelling, I expect him to make a start or on the bench,sad for him, most probably sold in january.
    What do u guys think our starting 11 will be?

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