Verdict: away win
Best odds: 4/5
This weekend is the fifth round of the 2021-22 Premier League season and on Sunday afternoon West Ham United will welcome Manchester United at the London stadium in the wake of the very different results the two teams achieved in Europe over the week.
West Ham United
After looking like serious contenders for a top four finish for much of 2020-21, the Hammers finished sixth in the league and booked a spot in the Europa League. They emerged victorious from the first round of their season in the competition by beating Dinamo in Zagreb 0-2, thanks to goals from Michail Antonio in the 21st minute and Declan Rice in the 50th minute. Speaking after the game, former Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma expressed the whole team’s satisfaction with the performance and the result, but manager David Moyes warned his players not to get carried away after winning a match in Europe.
The Croatian away game followed two wins (2-4 away with Newcastle and 4-1 at home to Leicester City) and two draws (2-2 at home against Crystal Palace and 0-0 away with Southampton) in the Premier League, a series of which has West Ham currently in eighth place with eight points. However, the top of the table is so dense at the moment that all of the teams (Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton) that occupy the top four are just two points above, with Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur squashed. in the middle.
Moyes doesn’t have too many selection worries for this match, even though the team is certain they will miss Antonio early. The 31-year-old striker is suspended after taking his second yellow card in the fifth minute of added time against Southampton. The only player absent due to injury is defender Winston Reid, who will be out of action for a while longer.
Rice has been among the most talked about players over the summer and the 22-year-old is sure to provide protection to his team’s defensive line against a team he has recently been closely linked with, alongside Tomas Soucek. Captain Mark Noble has long since lost his place in the starting eleven.
It remains to be seen what Moyes will do without Antonio upfront, but it looks very likely that 31-year-old Ukrainian international Andriy Yarmolenko will get the nod. It will also be interesting to see if his good midweek performance brings Zouma to the team ahead of Angelo Ogbonna or Craig Dawson. Lukasz Fabianski’s place in goal is not in danger, as is Aaron Cresswell’s on the left back. Vladimir Coufal should instead return to formation in place of Ryan Fredericks on the right.
The last week must have been a huge emotional roller coaster for Manchester United fans.
Among them, as well as in the press, there has been a lot of talk about Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the club after 12 years of incredible success, and the Portuguese achieved great results in his second debut, scoring twice in the 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday. last. The hopes of fans, as well as those within the club, of finally winning their first Scudetto since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 skyrocketed, but the joy didn’t last too long.
They were brought back to their feet on Tuesday when Ronaldo’s goal proved insufficient to push Swiss Young Boys back into the Champions League after Aaron Wan-Bissaka was shown a straight red in the 35th minute. Moumi Ngamaleu equalized shortly after the quarter-hour, and Jesse Lingard, who spent the second half of 2020-21 on loan at West Ham, made a big mistake in the closing seconds of the match by sending a wrong back pass that put Theoson Siebatcheu is aiming for victory for the hosts.
Back in the Premier League, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team are in the lead, but as has been said they are level on points with Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton, with Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham looming closely. So far, they have beaten Leeds United 5-1 at home, drew 1-1 away to Southampton, won 0-1 away to Wolverhampton Wanderers and beat Newcastle at home.
The Young Boys game saw Paul Pogba move higher and Donny van de Beek start in the middle of the park with Fred. This should, however, see seasoned Nemanja Matic return and play alongside Pogba, with Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho on the flanks. Ronaldo is ready to continue in attack, closely supported by Bruno Fernandes. Like Matic, Raphael Varane is likely to return to formation and take his place at the heart of the defense with Captain Harry Maguire.
Solskjaer cannot count on forwards Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford. The Uruguayan expert is expected to return to training early next week, but Rashford will likely take another month to fully recover from his shoulder surgery over the summer. Winger Amad Diallo, midfielder Scott McTominay and left-back Alex Telles are also out.
Manchester United will be extremely keen to put the Young Boys disappointment behind them on Sunday and will be looking to produce a much stronger performance. They will certainly need it against a very good West Ham against which they are still favorites. What happens three days later, when these two teams meet in the Carabao Cup, is something else.
Verdict: away win
Best odds: 4/5