The most surprising thing that arose following Manchester United’s capitulation last Sunday was the astonishment from all corners of social media. Manchester United are still rubbish? How could this be? The recruitments made in terms of attacking personnel this summer has glossed over the fact that these so called ‘title-contenders’ have only won 2 games in a row twice (that’s not a typo) in 2014. Manchester United are still very far behind a lot of teams in confidence, physicality and tactical prowess. If you look at it from a pragmatic point of view, losing 5-3 away from home sounds about right.
That being said, the attacking options that Manchester United can now boast undoubtedly prevails over many title winning teams put out by Sir Alex Ferguson. The imbalance in Manchester United’s defence doesn’t require a footballing genius to spot, but if this team is playing an exciting brand of attacking football then that’s already a vast improvement from last year.
Nonetheless, Manchester United play a West Ham side who look a considerably better outfit than the one who finished 13th on 40 points last year, I don’t know a great deal about the East London club apart from the fact that their entire support choose to lambast their manager even though he keeps them well above hot water and seems to make good signings, and I remember that the last time they won at Old Trafford was back in May 2007; when Tevez scored the only goal of the game in which the entire United team were still hammered from their title party.
The attacking options added to their side this summer were much needed and seem to have hit the ground running; Enner Valencia and Cheikhou Kouyate have made West Ham look genuinely quite threatening, that much was signified with a convincing win over Liverpool last Saturday. The latter won’t play a part tomorrow following a groin injury; other absentees include Mark Noble, Andy Carroll, Joey O’Brien and Matt Jarvis.
As ever, Manchester United’s injury list is far more entertaining; the fact that only one CB is available tomorrow makes me want to laugh and cry simultaneously. Evans, Smalling, Jones all injured, Blackett suspended. Marcos Rojo will most likely play at the back alongside Blind, with Fletcher supposedly coming into the team. Carrick, Fellaini, Young and Lingard are all still injured.
That being said I severely hope that Ben Pearson gets a call up instead of Fletcher, or least gets some minutes. The energy and tackling ability Pearson possesses would be ideal for this upcoming encounter. Playing under such arduous pressure could be a slight baptism of fire for the youngster but the fact that he trained with the first team this week illustrates Louis van Gaal’s intentions to invest in youth and trust a player who continuously impressed under Warren Joyce last season.
On paper, it should be a formality. Despite West Ham’s impressive away record this season I expect all the momentum to come from a team littered with attacking talent who are desperate to rectify last weekend’s disaster.
Score prediction: Manchester United 4-1 West Ham