Matchday: West Ham ‘entertain’ Manchester United

The other United take their bus to the London Stadium for today’s late kickoff.

West Ham Man UtdThe visitors to the London Stadium today are Manchester United who, in terms of revenue, continue to be the biggest club in the Premier League. Given the strong correlation between money and success the Manchester club have underperformed since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and this season, under third post-Fergie manager, Jose Mourinho, are once again off the pace from the leading pack. Coming into today’s game on a run of 5 straight wins they remain 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and 7 behind second place Liverpool.

Mourinho has brought his 19th century tactics and introduced the traditional siege mentality to the Old Trafford club and we will need a strong performance from referee Mike ‘Penalty King’ Dean this afternoon.

“We played a good game. I’m very disappointed, angry, frustrated we lost. They started better, we knew they were going to start aggressively and for the first 20 minutes they deserved the goal. I’m very disappointed but we played a good game and that makes one part of me satisfied. We look good but that final product wasn’t there.”

– Slaven Bilic on defeat at Leicester

West Ham’s mini-revival was brought to an abrupt halt in the East Midlands on New Year’s Eve and it will require one of those ‘obscene’ performances to repeat last year’s rousing victory in the final Boleyn encounter.

Head to Head

West Ham’s home record against Manchester United is a reasonably healthy one although last year’s success was the first in the league since 2007. It was also the only victory against the Red Devils in the last 12 meetings home and away.

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

62

26

21

15

103

90

WLDLDD

Away

65

13

11

41

60

148

LDDDLL

 

127

39

32

56

163

238

 

Team News

There are no new escapees from the treatment room and Mark Noble has become a new inmate after getting a whack on the knee in the Leicester game. It has become very difficult to anticipate Slaven Bilic’s selection decisions and, for all I know, he may be plotting something revolutionary like playing rush-goalie. The logical changes, for me, to the team that lost on Saturday would be to recall Pedro Obiang to centre midfield and start with Manuel Lanzini instead of Andre Ayew. I am much happier with a back 4 and the added protection that Obiang provides provided that Angelo Ogbonna stays awake for the whole game. Also time for Dimitri Payet to step up and put in a performance to impress the visiting manager.

“It’s a challenge for everybody but Chelsea, as they play only on the 4th, Tottenham played Sunday and then on the 4th. For us and West Ham it’s the same – difficult. Middlesbrough play at 12 o’clock, so less than 48 hours. It’s very hard, especially when you see the intensity of this game.”

– Jose Mourinho on everything being so unfair.

Manchester United are without their best defender Eric Bailly who has already left for the Africa Cup of Nations and may be without Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney. Fingers crossed that Rooney is not involved and is thus unable to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal-scoring record on our manor. Mourinho’s side are more a bunch of individuals than a cohesive team but they do have some exceptional talent; we will do well to get anything from today’s game.

The Man in the Middle

Welcome for the second time this season Mike Dean from The Wirral (just down the road from Manchester). He previously officiated in our match at White Hart Lane where he sent off Winston Reid. Reid is the season’s top penalty giver with 10 awarded to date. In his 16 games he has flourished 72 Yellow and 4 Red cards.