Preview: United v West Ham United

Old Trafford takes in a rare midweek Premier League game, with high-flying West Ham United in town on Wednesday as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team aims to consolidate a one point lead in the table. Manchester United’s renewed Premier League supremacy came amid few positives from a lethargic display against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday – a scenario Ferguson is keen to avoid against the Hammers.

Once again, on Saturday, United fell behind, only to secure victory over QPR with a three goal burst inside 10 second half minutes. It is a pattern that has repeated all season, although the Reds’ lifelessness for much of Saturday’s tie will definitely certainly concern United’s manager.

West Ham travel north following defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, but lying in a healthy eighth place in the Premier League, with Sam Allardyce’s outfit just two points off a European qualification place.

This is a performance that brought fresh support from Ferguson for his old friend Allardyce. The former Bolton Wanderers manager has rarely enjoyed universal support from Hammers’ fans during an 18 month spell at the club.

Meanwhile, United will make at least one change from the weekend’s line-up, with veteran midfielder Paul Scholes absent through suspension.  Anderson, who impressed in a 30 minute cameo on Saturday, could start just his seventh game of the season against Allardyce’s outfit.

Ferguson has plenty of dilemmas ahead of kick off, with neither Ashley Young, Nani, nor Antonio Valencia in form for the Londoners’ visit. In any case Valencia’s hip problem could rule out the Ecuadorian once again, while Nani has missed matches against Aston Villa, Norwich City and QPR with a hamstring problem. Young, jeered off on Saturday, could drop to the bench.

“We’ll see what Antonio is like today and tomorrow,” admitted the United manager.

“Nani is still going to be out [but] Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were on the bench on Saturday and they’re available. It’s good to have them as back-up and in the back four things are much healthier. We’ve got plenty of options in the midfield and up front – it’s just the two wide positions.”

Manchester United v West Ham United - Premier League, Old Trafford - Wednesday 29 November 8.00pmInjuries and form could see United once again deploy a narrow midfield, with Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck also in contention to start alongside the Reds’ oft-errant Brazilian, Anderson.

Yet,  the big-boned midfielder, with Javier Hernández, changed Saturday’s game for United – the pair adding urgency and dynamism as the Reds won the fixture with a short burst in the second half. The player has often frustrated at Old Trafford, but a 30 minute substitute appearance has renewed hope that the former Porto star could fulfill his potential.

“I thought Ando won the game for us,” said Ferguson after United’s 3-1 victory on Saturday.

“His performance was outstanding. He took the game by the scruff of the neck and he was so positive and determined in his play that he picks himself on Wednesday.”

However, much focus will also be on United’s opponents at Old Trafford, with £35 million on-loan striker Andy Carroll likely to draw the Stretford End’s jeers. The Liverpool forward, on loan at Upton Park for the season, has scored just once this season after a near disastrous campaign with the Merseyside club last year.

Still, United’s inability to come up with more than three clean sheets in 20 matches this season means Carroll is an undoubted threat on Wednesday night.

“I am sure if you ask any defender, they find it difficult to play against someone like that who is good in the air and on the floor,” said fellow striker Rooney who should return to United’s starting line-up against the Hammers.

“He is physical and he makes it difficult. That type of player doesn’t always get all the goals but they can cause trouble up front and create problems. I am sure that is what Sam Allardyce wants him to do.”

Whether Carroll’s presence induces yet another comeback performance is yet to be determined, although Ferguson is unlikely to tolerate another lesson in mediocrity. While United’s defensive performance against QPR was far better than at times this season, with Jonny Evans impressing at centre half, the team’s lack of urgency was deeply concerning.

Meanwhile, Allardyce is without suspended midfielder Mark Noble, while left-back George McCartney is a doubt after suffering an ankle injury against Spurs. Yossi Benayoun, Jack Collison and forward Ricardo Vaz Te are also ruled out though injury.

Whatever West Ham’s short-term problems, Ferguson says Dudley-born Allardyce has already exceeded his remit in brining stability to the east London side.

“Big Sam went to Upton Park a year and a bit ago and the cynics said he’s not a West Ham manager as he doesn’t play football,” said Ferguson.

“What was his mandate? To get them up into the Premier League as quickly as possible and he got them up within a year. Tell me someone else who could’ve done that? He’s also had to rebuild the team and get two or three players out because of their salaries. He’s very underrated, it’s as simple as that.”

Whether Allardyce can lead his men to victory is another matter. While memories of Fabian Barthez raised right hand and Paulo di Canio’s cup goal are fresh, so too are eight victories for the Reds in the past 10 meetings between these sides. Old Trafford expects nothing less than a repeat.

Match Details
Manchester United v West Ham United – Premier League, Old Trafford – Wednesday 28 November 2012, 8.00pm

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Anderson; Cleverley, Rooney, Welbeck; van Persie. Subs from: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Powell, Wootton, Buttner, Fletcher, Hernandez, Henríquez.

West Ham (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Reid, McCartney, Tomkins, O’Brien; Nolan, Diame, O’Neil, Taylor, Jarvis; Carroll. Subs from: Spiegel, Collins, Demel, Taylor, Moncur, Cole, Maiga.

Referee: M Jones
Assistants: R Ganfield, G Beswick
Fourth official: J Moss

United: WWWLLW
West Ham: WLDWDL

Head to Head
Last 10: United 8, West Ham 2, Draw 0
Overall: United 56, West Ham 42, Draw 24


  • Hernández remains the league’s most productive goalscorer in terms of the average time per goal strike – one every 69 minutes is unmatched by any other forward;
  • Robin van Persie failed to add to his tally against QPR, but performed well enough to usurp Carlos Tevez as the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index‘ leading player – on 276 points to Tevez’ 275, with Juan Mata in third-placed on 244;
  • The Dutchman’s philosophy is certainly more than ‘style over substance’ – he covered 6.39 miles at the weekend, more than any other United player for the third consecutive game;
  • United is the only team in the league to have won six of the last seven games, yet in nine of the past 13 league matches Ferguson’s men have fallen behind;
  • Darren Fletcher returned from a long-term absence at the weekend – his first league start in over a year – and covered 6.29 miles in 90 minutes, more than all but three of his team mates;
  • Meanwhile, West Ham head to Old Trafford just two points off Everton in fifth-place, with Kevin Nolan key to the Hammers chances at Old Trafford – Nolan is the league’s most accurate finisher according to the Index, with 70 per cent of 30 shots on target this season;
  • Defender James Tomkins has won 93.8 percent of his tackles this season – more than any other league player;
  • The Hammers suffered a tough day against Spurs last weekend, but Andy Carroll’s goal means that the east London club has failed to score in just three matches this season;
  • Carroll has split fans’ opinions this season, but has 13 on target from twenty attempts.


Sharing is caring


  1. Jinomoja says

    I wonder if, given enough games, the Cleverley-Anderson partnership can reach the heights of early last season.
    At least, it’s an energetic pairing and possibly much better than a midfield pairing containing either Giggs or Scholes.

  2. han says

    Thanks Ed
    It would be great to keep a clean sheet but just don’t see it happening
    But as long as the mentality is let them score 1, we’ll score 3, I won’t mind…good chance for our resident wimpey sponsored midfielder to shine in the absence of scholes

  3. marlon says

    Might do something weird like bring in Smalling to deal with the aerial threat. Carroll will definitely be pulling onto Raf and Evra for crosses.

  4. Sidsidney says

    There’s gonna be an odd selection or three because of Reading away at weekend, I just hope it’s not too horrific

  5. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    This one’s in the bag… Fergie’s been tickling Big Sams belly in the press…

    He’s talked a bit about Carroll which in theory should gee the cunt up for it tonight (providing he’s not out getting pissed)

    He also said Dalglish should have done his homework on the cunt before he shelled out. I’m sure he just turned on Sky Sports and bought all the top top top English players the pundits approve of.

    Btw watch tonight’s game in mute because when Carroll plays he is all the commentators talk about. Handful. Focal point. They reduce football to a strength contest.

  6. bman says

    Commenter said:
    does anyone know why DDG isnt playing ? is it due to injury or is it just rotation ?

    Because Andy Carroll is playing and DDG can’t handle crosses and big strikers, would be a recipe for disaster. I really hope DDG works out, because he’s great in other areas of the game, but it’s not sustainable to have a goalie who can’t deal with crosses, it’s ridiculous.

  7. Sidsidney says

    bman said:
    Because Andy Carroll is playing and DDG can’t handle crosses and big strikers, would be a recipe for disaster. I really hope DDG works out, because he’s great in other areas of the game, but it’s not sustainable to have a goalie who can’t deal with crosses, it’s ridiculous.

    Carroll is shit with his head though. The Guardian said he’d scored one goal in something like 40 odd headers. And at the Euros statistics show us Welbeck did a better job of playing as a centre forward (flick ons, trapping the ball, laying it off etc.) than the bigbigbigman – despite not very big.
    He has spells in games where he putshimselfaboutalot and makes things happen on the back of it. But that lasts no more than half an hour before the daft twat gets knackered and starts ambling.
    We will make him look better than he is though because we’re shit at the back and we’ve struggled against big players in the past.

  8. Leroy Cain says

    Instead of the narrow diamond and bearing in mind the form & fitness of the wingers I’d like to see more of a 4-3-3:

    Midfield with two out of Fletcher/Cleverley/Carrick and then with Anderson just in front.

    Then either Young or Wellbeck to the right, RVP up top and Rooney to the left.

    Come on United – Let’s stuff the Mockneys

  9. Sidsidney says




    van Persie

    SUBS: De Gea, Ferdinand, Buttner, Jones, Fletcher, Young, Welbeck

  10. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    sidney said:
    If Nolan gets to do that chicken dance celebration then the game has been a disaster no matter what the score is

    LOL Sid, what link you using?

  11. marlon says

    Smalling Evans could be dodgy. The future, but both play much better with experience alongside them at this point. Exciting mid though. Definitely a diamond though, which seemed to confuse Anderson last time vs. Braga. Better if our strikers and fullbacks provide the width

  12. AnantaxAnantax says

    Rafa doing v well. Ando also playing well. Clev energetic but just cant buy the telling pass at the moment.

    Great start, but afterwards its energetic without creating too many (or any real) chances…

  13. says

    Why is Rooney not on the left and Cleverly on the right of this no-wing formation that way Anderson can be central and at least Rafa can get some protection. I think Diame and Jarvis might prove too much for Rafa in the end.

  14. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    we’ve got most of the right players out there, so thats some of the battle won

    njust need taggart to line them up in some kind of cohesive setup and not this mish mash diamond bollocks

  15. Auntymingefaceforcuntssake says

    I’ve never hated watching United as much as I currently do. I don’t remember what a United team used to be like! We’d make a pub team look good, utter dogshit

  16. marlon says

    Defence did well. Impressive without Rio. I’d like to see Rooney move forward again. He’s getting less and less effective in this deeper role.

  17. AnantaxAnantax says

    Might be bit harsh – but i feel Hernandez has v little impact when starting. Except for one shot, think he was missing,

    We looked lost without wingers, and when one came on he was absolutely shite

    Ando was good though, and a clean sheet.

    But concerns on no end product remains…

  18. marlon says

    The diamond relies on the 10 to create and Rooney wasn’t great. Cleverley was a bit anonymous, although there was no one on the bench I would have preferred to start.

  19. han says

    another chance to score a stack full goes begging
    not sure i like this new 1-0 business
    scored too early ffs and then descended into indifference

  20. sheesh says

    I have to say, I’ve not been overly impressed with Cleverley’s contributions whenever he’s played this season. He’s not really kicked on after the swashbuckling start he made at the start of last season, although he obviously suffered from injury. Still, I expected him to offer more for us this season in terms of making things happen with passing and quick tempo.
    Bit worrying that we look so poor against these riff raff sides. Fergie keeps banging on about goal difference but we don’t look like a side that can win games comfortably. Even with a decent side out, we looked pretty ordinary.
    The City game really worries me. They’re not playing well themselves but they are excellent defensively. It’s only a matter of time before their forwards click.
    Oh well. At least Anderson played.

    • Clive says

      We usually win when Cleverley plays, and also usually look like a proper team too with quick accurate passing – I don’t think its a coincidence.

      He gets a hell of a hard time from some people on this site. I would say however that he is a player that needs to get into a rhythm but Fergie won’t let that happen!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *