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Match Preview

Match Preview: Manchester United vs West Ham

Following a disappointing defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Chelsea and consequently getting knocked out of the FA cup, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are set to host a gritty West Ham team, who after convincingly defeating fellow relegation battlers in Norwich City and Watford in consecutive matchdays, look a sufficiently capable side who could very well spoil the Reds’ push towards securing a sure spot in the top 4. Although a fair few scenarios could play out favorably for Manchester United, nothing other than victory would be good enough for the manager as well as the supporters, who seem increasingly bothered by the recent loss, and more so by the manner, it came about. Apart from the obvious error-filled performance by a seasoned David De Gea, the team looked tactically inept to keep up with what was a largely superior 11, on the field if not as much so on paper. Solskjaer was not shy from admitting to what can only be called poor team selection and a switch back to the preferred 4-2-3-1 set up is to be expected for the huge game coming up at Old Trafford.

Having lost to the Hammers in the reverse fixture earlier this season, the Mancunians would be looking to return the favor, with the added incentive of gaining three points over 4th placed Leicester City, who they play on the final matchday. The Reds would look to increase efficiency and pace while on the ball and defensive solidarity looking keep the mercurial Hammers’ striker Michail Antonio at bay, who has been on a splendid goal-scoring run bagging crucial goals for his side to pull them further away from the drop-zone. Defender Eric Bailly is set to be out of contention after sustaining a strong blow to his head following an aerial clash with captain Harry Maguire, who is expected to start, as he has almost entirely through the season.

While still continuing to play out from the back, which has been the side’s preferred in-game tactic especially since the restart, Ole will be definitely counting on some fresh legs to bring most of the above-mentioned changes in the team’s play, having rested the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood against Chelsea, all instrumental in the team’s post restart resurgence, of course in addition to the talismanic new signing Bruno Fernandes – a name which seems almost impossible to be left out of the first team sheet. Arguably the biggest talking point foreshadowing the upcoming important fixtures, is the choice of goalkeeper, considering how the usual #1 has been concerningly error-prone this season, the fact being made increasingly unavoidable against the Blues three days ago, even so, in talking to the press, Solskjaer seemed to back the Spanish ‘keeper while lauding the mental toughness of his player, to come out of adversity stronger, and being fully aware of his role and what is expected of him at the club. Although it might come as a dismay to a vast section of supporters, De Gea seems to be in the manager’s plans for the starting 11, a choice that just might prove to be decisive for United’s Champions League ambitions.

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