What to Watch For: West Ham United Vs Manchester United

West Ham. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images )
West Ham. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images ) /

West Ham United play hosts to Manchester United at London Stadium on Saturday as they look to continue their good form.

It’s a rare meeting between the sides when West Ham sits above Man U in the table. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2014. Here are things to watch for: Matchweek 11.

Supporters in the Stands at London Stadium

For the first time since the pandemic, supporters will be allowed to attend Premier League matches this weekend.

At London Stadium, 2000 are expected to be on hand to watch West Ham in person for the first time since last March.  Some have put forth the idea that not having fans for some of their lesser performances has actually helped the Irons!  We all know what a vocal and demanding bunch they can be.

West Ham fans.
West Ham fans. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) /

But considering the circumstances across the UK and the world for the better part of the last ten months, it’s going to bring a fresh jolt of energy and excitement to the match that will most certainly trickle down to the pitch and players.

Man U Squad Rotation after UCL Midweek Match

One of the ‘advantages’ of not playing European football for an in-form West Ham side is that they can catch their opponents after a mid-week match. That’s the case here as Man U is playing their third game in 7 days.

Not only will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer be forced to rotate his squad to keep fresh legs in the side, he potentially has an injury to a key player to deal with.  Marcus Rashford went off against PSG with a knock.  If he can’t go, it’s likely that Edinson Cavani goes into the Staring XI in his place. Cavani has been in form, scoring a goal or creating one for every 32 minutes of game time.

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Outside of Rashford, United rolled out their A team for the Champions League on Wednesday. There doesn’t figure to be any changes to the goaltender or backline when they line up against West Ham here, but all of the midfield and attacking places could be under consideration from the Manager.

Solskjaer also needs to decide what formation he goes with and how much he respects WHU form and goal-scoring threat. He has generally chosen to go more defensive in midfield or attack—but not usually something balanced. Last time out vs Southampton it was Paul Pogba the odd man out in midfield. And Pogba did play in the PSG match.  Bruno Fernandes has been the only midfield automatic selection.

Is Michail Antonio Fit?

Michail Antonio, West Ham.
Michail Antonio, West Ham. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

Not only was Antonio deemed fit enough to make the squad vs Villa, but he also went straight into the starting XI. That was a mistake.

He was subbed off at halftime and prior to that, he did not pass the eye test. Or the leg test.  He ended up playing out wide left vs through the middle. If Antonio doesn’t have his power and pace, which he didn’t, he really has nothing to contribute.

Sebastian Haller scored after coming on and the expectation here is that Haller starts again. (After all, Moyes won’t change a winning side, right?!) Antonio makes the bench.

How Does David Moyes Line Up

For the first time in a while, the Manager got it wrong to start the match vs Aston Villa. The 3-4-3 (5-4-1) wasn’t working out. When Said Benrahma came on, it was for Arthur Masuaku and Moyes moved Aaron Creswell to a traditional left-back and adjusted to a 4-2-3-1.  Even though the result was there due to individual skill, that change didn’t do much else to ignite the Irons.

It will be interesting to see what Moyes does here vs Man U.  It’s possible a change of formation does get Benrahma onto the pitch along with Fornals and Bowen, rather than in place of one of them. He certainly has made his presence felt each time he has come into the game, and for my money deserves a chance to start a match.

There is no reason to fear Man U in this spot. Just like almost any other club in the PL, they can turn mistakes into opportunities and get results. However, since 2014, West Ham have beaten them three times and drawn points in another five, out of the 11 matches played. There is no reason they can’t get a result here if Moyes employs the correct tactics from the start.

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Where to Watch

West Ham vs Manchester United TV Coverage   UK: Sky Go UK   NOW TV  Sky Sports Premier League   USA: NBC CAN: DAZN  AUS: Optus Sport CHN: QQ Sports Live MEX: Sky HD  UAE: BeIn Sports HD1