Manchester United remain unbeaten at home when West Ham United travel to Old Trafford in the afternoon kick-off.
The Red Devil’s are third in the table with the top five separated by four points and as the festive period comes with as many games in the space of a week, earning all three points leading up to the New Year is important to stay within the title race. So United will be looking to build on their run of form and stay close to the pack at the top. On the other bench, West Ham started the season in style and have reached a brick wall. They are eighth in the league and would be chasing for a European place for next season.
Van Gaal will be satisfied with the result last weekend against high flyers Leicester and a draw was more than what they deserved. It was always going to be difficult to get a result on the form Leicester have been on and United have not been stepping into another gear especially controlling the games through possession. The playing style is causing issues and a lack of chances up front. The wide players are not feeding the strikers and the injuries are mounting up.
Slaven Bilic could set West Ham with a Premier League first if they get a victory at Old Trafford as they have won at Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City in the same season. So this something he would love to set a record with. He would have to do his best as United are yet to face a defeat at home this season.
Rooney misses out due to an ankle injury and Marcos Rojo is out after dislocating his shoulder in training. Phil Jones and Herrera have not recovered with their respective injuries and are added to the list with Shaw and Valencia. Lingard is available after missing out through a hamstring injury. West Ham have Carroll to make a start as Sakho has been ruled out for three months. He joins Payet and Valencia on the injury list. Noble and Collins are available.
With Rooney missing out, it could do United a favour as many have seen him not hit his previous form whether it is a confidence or playing style issue. He has had to adapt to Van Gaal’s tactics and this has tarnished his qualities in attack although his team work ethic is effortless. So it could see Fellaini make his start and West Ham being a traditional physical side, he can provide his height up top. It is unfortunate that United do not have any other strikers and that is something they will need to address in the winter transfer window, seeing Wilson has left the club on loan.
One thing West Ham will be lacking is their pace in attack with Payet and Valencia missing. But they make up for it with Moses and Kouyate who are able to cause trouble towards defenders. Carroll would be starting and he can give Blind a hard time with height difference. So Smalling will need to be stepping up to help his partner out. It is disappointing to Memphis start on the bench as fans thought he would be capable of adjusting to life in the Premier League. He has been working alongside Giggs and getting tips from him but we need him to get minutes on the field.
I do not expect many goals in this fixture and West Ham will be defensive in their approach and play on the counter as United will be in control of possession. If Martial can get in the box and the others driving forward, United could create more chances although, finishing them would be another matter. Unless they are getting set pieces.
Possible starting XI:
Man Utd; De Gea, Darmain, Smalling, Blind, Young, Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Fellaini, Memphis, Martial.
West Ham; Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Collins, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble, Moses, Lanzini, Zarate, Carroll.