I can’t remember the last time I wrote a match preview with so much optimism about the club.
Last week’s win over Liverpool was the product of exactly what we as fans have been craving for so long. Fight, passion, team work, attacking football, goals. Everything came together and the demands of the owners placed on Sam Allardyce don’t look as impossible to achieve as first believed.
You have to give credit to Allardyce, too. Most managers would’ve remained stubborn and stuck to their own ideologies when under so much pressure from all angles to change. But he’s embraced a new challenge, brought in the right players and then executed his plans brilliantly.
Aside from the Southampton defeat, there hasn’t been a disappointing performance from the team. Even the Spurs defeat wasn’t particularly deserved, with the performance pleasing on the eye and worthy of at least a point.
But now we visit Manchester United at possibly the best time. Their defence is almost non-existent and we’ve got an attacking force that looks like it can score at any time. United may have one of the most impressive attacking lines in the Premier League – with Angel Di Maria and Falcao no doubt their biggest dangers for us today – but that doesn’t mean to say we have to fear them.
If Allardyce sets up for a draw then we’ll no doubt lose the game. But if he sets us up to take the game to Man United form the first whistle, like he did against Liverpool, then there’s a chance of leaving Old Trafford with all three points and possibly a nose bleed due to us being so high in the league table.
There’s no doubting we can today. It just all depends on whether Allardyce wants to continue his new life as an exciting, attacking manager.
Verdict: Will take a point, but all three points are there for the taking.
Manchester United (12th, 5 points)
Louis Van Gaal only has Marcos Rojo available as a fit central defender, with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans injury, and Tyler Blackett suspended.
That means debuts could be handed to youngsters Tom Thorpe and Paddy McNair, as well as big money summer signing Luke Shaw.
West Ham United (8th, 7 points)
West Ham are without midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, who picked up a goring injury in the win over Liverpool last weekend.
Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis are not yet ready to feature despite returning to training earlier this week.
Potential starting XI
Last 10 Meetings
|22 Mar 2014||Premier League||Boleyn Ground||L 2-0|
|21 Dec 2013||Premier League||Old Trafford||L 3-1|
|17 Apr 2013||Premier League||Boleyn Ground||D 2-2|
|16 Jan 2013||FA Cup 3rd Round Replay||Old Trafford||L 1-0|
|5 Jan 2013||FA Cup 3rd Round||Boleyn Ground||D 2-2|
|28 Nov 2012||Premier League||Old Trafford||L 1-0|
|2 Apr 2011||Premier League||Boleyn Ground||L 4-2|
|30 Nov 2010||League Cup 5th Round||Boleyn Ground||W 4-0|
|28 Aug 2010||Premier League||Old Trafford||L 3-0|
|23 Feb 2010||Premier League||Old Trafford||L 3-0|
Match in Numbers
31 – Man United have taken 31 from points from their last 11 top-flight meetings with the Hammers
2 – West Ham have won just two off their last 21 visits to Old Trafford
9 – The Hammers have scored just nine goals in 18 visits to Old Trafford and have never managed to score than once in a game
1 – United have won just one of their last six games
175 – Wayne Rooney needs one more goal to become the Premier League’s outright third-top scorer in league history with 175 goals.
5 – West Ham have scored five goals in their last two away games
1 – The Hammers have kept just one clean sheet in their last 17 Premier Leaguematches
3 – Stewart Downing already has three assists this season. He managed just two for the entire campaign last term
Head-to-Head (all competitions)
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||For||Against||GD +/-||Win %|