Last Word on Football previews and offers a prediction for West Ham vs Manchester United at the London Stadium in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off as the Premier League moves into the busy festive season.
West Ham vs Manchester United – Both Sides Looking to Avoid Defeat After Recent Setbacks
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 21, 2023
Moyes Aiming to Take Hammers to the Next Level
David Moyes has done an incredible job leading the club to European success in the shape of the UEFA Conference League in the 2022/23 campaign. That run has continued into the Europa League, qualifying for the knockout stages as winners of Group A, picking up 15 points to prove that this team is ready to compete for honours regularly.
After a disappointing league campaign last season, the East London outfit have enjoyed a reasonably successful run to eighth in the table and sit just one point behind Manchester United heading into this fixture. There are concerns defensively, as only the bottom three have conceded more than West Ham heading into this round of games and the average rate of 1.76 goals against per game is not sustainable if the club are to compete for the European places.
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There has never been universal acclaim from the supporters that Moyes is the right man for the job, and this led to him speaking out after the heavy 5-1 Carabao Cup defeat to Liverpool:
“We’ve won seven out of the last nine. Don’t forget how well we’ve been doing. What do you expect from West Ham?
“Would you expect us to win a European trophy? Be challenging for the Champions League?”
‘We’ve been doing well for what we are. We keep trying to win the games, to challenge the top teams, and we will try to win cups when we get the opportunity. Tonight was a tough game for us.”
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This team is full of talented players that are entering their prime so expectations are high for this term. They must avoid the type of heavy defeats they suffered against Liverpool and Fulham recently to keep the supporters onside heading into the business end of the season.
Manchester United Near Breaking Point
A run of just one win in six games and three consecutive goalscoring blanks has thrown the Red Devils into another crisis. All of the off-the-field issues have to be put to one side as results have to improve or the season is going to be a write-off which would be a bitter blow for Erik ten Hag after a reasonably successful first campaign in charge.
The result at Anfield was unexpected and following on from the Bayern Munich defeat there has been an improvement defensively but it has adversely affected the attacking output. The forwards are struggling to score all season and the defensive mindset adopted by the manager has yet to bear fruit in terms of victories but it has shown that the foundations may be there.
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The return of Raphael Varane has been a welcome boost to the back four and Captain Bruno Fernandes will return from suspension. Injuries continue to plague the manager’s options and it will be the case again this weekend with up to 11 first-team players unavailable as Manchester United go in search for a first away success against a side currently in the top half of the table.
It is hard to find any real positives for this United side who look toothless in attack and timid in midfield. It will take a couple of tactical masterclasses to get results here and at home to high-flying Aston Villa over the next week but it is time for the players and managers to prove that they are up to the task.
West Ham were victorious in the last league meeting as a goal from Said Benrahma secured three points in May at the London Stadium. This ended a run of three successive Manchester United victories that included two 1-0 home Premier League wins. The Red Devils did come away with three points away from home in September 2021 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard. Benrahma had once again opened the scoring on this occasion.
The other meeting to take place this calendar year also went the way of Manchester United as a 3-1 FA Cup win featured goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Fred after Benrahma had continued his rich vein of form against the club by scoring the opener.
West Ham vs Manchester United Prediction
On paper with the players available for both sides, West Ham looks to be the better side here with more players in form but the performance in the defeat at Liverpool was shambolic at times. Jarrod Bowen’s incredible consolation goal was their only shot on goal throughout the entire 90 minutes.
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The manager may be fired up to get one up over his old employers but he must be able to pass that motivation on to his players, who looked uninterested at times in the reversal at Anfield.
There is a cause for concern for the away side this weekend as it is difficult to see how they will keep West Ham out and manage to provide an attacking threat based on performances over the last two weeks. There will be gaps to exploit as evidenced by their opponents’ defensive record but if they are to go full throttle to get three points themselves, there is concern that gaps will open at the other end.
This has all the hallmarks of being a tight and edgy affair with both teams not willing to accept another defeat. The greater quality in the final third may give the Hammers the edge, so we predict a narrow home win.